Common beat Bexhill in Easter derby
Little Common's footballers completed a league double over crosstown rivals Bexhill United for the second successive season.
Second half strikes from Lewis Hole and a late Wes Tate beauty gave Common a 2-0 victory in their final home fixture of the season on Easter Monday.
It also represented a triumphant farewell to their Recreation Ground base for Common, who will play their home games at Eastbourne United AFC next season.
But Bexhill gave a pretty good account of themselves in the absence of influential midfielders Kyle Holden and Gordon Cuddington, and strike duo Drew Greenall and David Pugh.
There’s generally no shortage of incident when these teams meet, but this was a fairly low key affair which had none of the usual blood and thunder associated with local derbies.
In fact, there wasn’t a single booking for either side in a contest which had a slight end-of-season feel to it on a bobbly and very grassy pitch.
Both teams had their moments during a first half which somewhat surprisingly ended goalless given some of the openings created.
More of the opportunities fell to Common, including three particularly good ones. Hole had a shot parried by Bexhill goalkeeper Dan Rose having been played in by Tate and moments later Hole got goalside of Bexhill defender Connor Robertson following a terrific ball from Tate only to see his shot well saved by the legs of Rose.
Right at the end of the first half, Adam Smith volleyed over Bexhill’s crossbar from just outside the six yard box as he stretched to get on the end of a good cross by Bradley Pritchard.
Bexhill carved out a couple of presentable chances themselves. Kevin Barden got goalside of the home defence, but could only lift his finish into the arms of Common goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell, who later did well to push Jacob Shelton’s shot round the post when the Bexhill forward was invitingly placed.
Other noteworthy attempts before the break included Hole heading into the arms of Rose from Pritchard’s cross, and Jared Lusted shooting wide of the near post from an angle and then seeing another angled strike following Hole’s clever pass blocked by Rose.
The first half was the livelier half from a spectator’s point of the view, even if both goals came during the second period.
After the turnaround, Lusted drilled an angled shot just wide of the far post following a nice pass from Tate, while a well-struck left-foot effort from distance by Brett Patton - who impressed on his Bexhill debut - whistled just over at the other end.
That happened just before Common opened the scoring in the 58th minute with a goal that was a touch cruel on Rose, who produced as good a save as you’re ever likely to see at this level to fingertip Tate’s first time shot against the inside of the post before Hole tapped in the rebound.
Bexhill responded well to going behind and had several attempts at goal in the subsequent few minutes. Wayne Giles blazed over from the edge of the box and Robertson shot just too high from outside the area before Nathan Lopez brought a save out of Cruttwell with a decent effort at the end of a determined run.
Bexhill didn’t threaten during the final quarter, though, after Common brought on Dan Cruikshank, who was his usual resolute self in defence even though he only returned to the country on the morning of the game.
At the other end, Craig McFarlane produced a great tackle to halt Pritchard’s surge into Bexhill’s box and Tate blasted just over at the near post following a good pass from the impressive Smith.
The game’s best moment was saved for last. In the first minute of added time, Tate controlled a long ball forward before unleashing a tremendous dipping shot over Rose and into the roof of the net - a glorious final senior goal at the Rec, for a year at least.
Common are guaranteed to finish in the top three and a three-goal victory in their final game away to Midhurst & Easebourne on Saturday would see them pip East Preston for the runners-up spot. Bexhill are 10th having now completed their programme.
Common: Cruttwell, Bristow (Cruikshank 67), Mote, Saville, Walker, Eldridge, Smith, Pritchard (Wells 89), Hole, Tate, Lusted (Crone 67). Subs not used: Tewkesbury, McEniry.
Bexhill: Rose, Robertson, Ottley, Kidman (Butchers 79), McFarlane, Patton, Gouet, Lopez, Shelton, Giles (Wheeler 76), Barden (Pickering 90+4). Sub not used: Sully.
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