Little Common Football Club produced a splendid performance to overcome third-placed Langney Wanderers despite playing for more than an hour with 10 men.
Goals from Sam Ellis and Wes Tate gave Common a 2-1 victory in a Macron Store Southern Combination League Division One first versus third derby at The Oval on Saturday.
The Commoners made one change to the starting line-up which beat Billingshurst the previous weekend, with Charlie Bachellier replacing Adam Smith in midfield. New signing Sam Winter began the match on the bench.
During a fairly even opening quarter, Common created the first chance. Lewis Hole’s strike beat the goalkeeper only to fall the wrong side of the post.
Langney came closest to opening the scoring with a header which rattled against the crossbar. Another close range header was glanced across the face of the goal before being cleared.
In the 28th minute, the Commoners were reduced to 10 men when Bachellier was shown a straight red card for retaliation after a collision in the centre of the pitch. Common reorganised and kept things tight to go in at the interval all-square.
Five minutes after the restart, the Commoners took the lead with a stunning strike from Ellis. The attacking midfield collected a pass from Russell Eldridge before driving forward and unleashing an unstoppable effort from 20 yards which flew into the top corner.
Common remained comfortable in their lead and were well-disciplined as they dealt with the aerial threat of the visitors. Jamie Crone went close to doubling Common’s advantage, but could only find the side netting from a tight angle.
At the other end, Matt Cruttwell produced a fine save to palm away a goalbound effort. Tate was penalised for a high foot in the area from the resulting corner, though, and Shane Saunders despatched the penalty to make it 1-1.
Tate became Common’s match winner in the 83rd minute, getting in behind the Wanderers defence and collecting a pass from Ryan Paul before slipping the ball past the advancing goalkeeper.
The Commoners saw out the remainder of the game without too many scares to secure three vital points.
Common: Cruttwell, Paul, Maynard, Ward, Parsons, Eldridge, Bachellier, Tate (Saville), Hole, Crone (Winter), Ellis (Smith).
Southern Combination League Division One top half (played-points): 1 LITTLE COMMON 17-43 (+40 goal difference), 2 Wick 17-39 (+33), 3 Langney Wanderers 16-37 (+32), 4 Lingfield 17-35 (+29), 5 Mile Oak 16-29 (+6), 6 BEXHILL UNITED 17-28 (+18), 7 Steyning Town 16-25 (+14), 8 Ringmer 17-24 (+10), 9 Seaford Town 16-24 (-3).