Despite the absence of a number of players, Little Common Football Club produced a battling performance in a 1-0 defeat at Oakwood yesterday (Saturday).
Common were unable to make the elusive breakthrough their efforts deserved as they were edged out by fourth-placed opposition in Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One.
Common entered the match with six players unavailable, but player-manager Russell Eldridge did welcome back Jerome Smith and Steve Mote to the back four.
On an excellent playing surface, it was Common who just edged the opening exchanges with Steve Morris seeing a drilled free kick bounce off the post and into the hands of the home goalkeeper.
Jared Lusted’s effort drifted wide as the Commoners enjoyed some good spells of possession before Lewis Hole set up a chance for Jamie Crone, but after rounding the goalkeeper, the angle was too tight for him to get a shot away.
At the other end, Mark Gilbert saw a header flash wide before Jack McNab was unable to punish a slip from Smith, dragging his shot wide with just Matt Cruttwell to beat.
A hugely controversial moment in the match came in the 35th minute when the referee overruled his assistant’s flag for offside, playing an advantage which saw Common given a throw-in in the corner of the pitch.
Unable to clear their lines, it was left to Cruttwell to make a stunning save from a ferocious strike which was heading into the top corner. However, the resultant corner led to the only goal of the game when McNab rose unmarked at the near post to head the hosts into the lead.
Common looked for an instant response and a quick corner saw Eldridge with space in the area, but his effort was pulled wide of the near post.
It was the hosts who started the brighter of the two teams in the second half as they went in search of a second goal. A number of dangerous deliveries into the area were dealt with comfortably before an effort was blasted wide following a neat pull-back.
Common grew into the half and were soon on the front foot. A neat exchange of passes ended with Crone upended in the penalty area only for the referee to wave play on.
Crone twice saw efforts blocked and Hole had a chip palmed away. With time running out, Common camped in the Oakwood half and were once again denied a penalty when Hole was pushed in the back from a corner.
Some resolute defending kept Common at bay and shouts for a third spot-kick deep into injury time went unanswered when Smith had his legs taken from him in the area, but the referee was unsighted from his position on the halfway line.
Common: Cruttwell, Maynard, Mote (Robb), Eldridge, Morris, Smith, Curteis (Wells), Brown, Hole, Crone, Lusted.
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