Common boss: This is for you grandad
Little Common player-manager Russell Eldridge dedicated the football club's highest ever finish to its late founder and chairman Ken Cherry.
The Commoners clinched the runners-up spot in Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One courtesy of a 5-0 victory away to Midhurst & Easebourne in their final game on Saturday.
“This season was for grandad and I know he would’ve been extremely proud of the boys,” said Eldridge. “He would’ve been over the moon with what we’ve achieved.”
Common pipped East Preston on goal difference for second place after both teams picked up 75 points from their 34 league games, each winning 23 and losing just five.
“I think it’s a very big achievement,” continued Eldridge. “At the beginning of the season if someone had said ‘you’re going to finish runners-up and four points behind the team in top place’ we would’ve probably taken it.
“At any level to come runners-up you have to be consistent through the whole season. Your final position is where you deserve to be based on your performances as a whole. You have to perform consistently well and pick up points at difficult times throughout the season.
“I think it’s been one of those seasons where we’ve got the job done on most occasions really; I think that’s been one of the pleasing things. There’s been numerous games where we’ve scored five or more goals and that’s been a highlight as well.”
Common’s freescoring form has been a stand-out feature of their campaign and the five goals they scored at Midhurst took them to 103 in the league for the season.
The bulk of the goals were netted by three players who enjoyed superb seasons in front of goal. Lewis Hole netted 38 in all competitions (34 in the league) - the best of his career - Wes Tate bagged 28 (24 in the league, despite only signing at the end of September) and Jamie Crone 19 (16 in the league).
“To score 100 league goals is an incredible achievement,” Eldridge went on. “The front three have been exceptional and almost unplayable at times. It’s been a real collective effort, but we’ve had match-winners in the final third.
“The performance at home to Saltdean (Common beat the champions 2-1 in December) was a good one and I think that was probably the pleasing point where we went on that nine-game unbeaten streak in November and December. We kept on chipping away, working at it and got the wins.”
Common finished seventh in both of the previous two seasons so what does Eldridge believe has made the difference this time around?
“I think we’ve had a little bit of a better desire, more mental strength and more knowhow in terms of our game management; how to win games and see out games,” added Eldridge. “The players have all been exceptional and everyone’s contributed in their own way.
“I think the addition of Dan (Cruikshank, defender) has been a massive attribute to us. He’s a real defender and has shown his worth this year, and Wes has made a difference as well.”
Common won seven and drew one of their last nine fixtures, scoring 31 goals and conceding only seven to finish with the division’s joint best goal difference.
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