Common come from behind to beat Bexhill
Little Common Football Club overturned a half time deficit to win 2-1 away to local rivals Bexhill United this morning (Boxing Day).
Strikes by Wes Tate and Dan Cruikshank - two former Bexhill players - gave Common a seventh consecutive Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One victory and kept them top of the table.
Bexhill had earlier got off to a dream start by opening the scoring inside the first two-and-a-half minutes on a sunny but breezy morning at The Polegrove.
Common goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell came for but didn't get to a floated ball into the area and Drew Greenall flicked on for Gordon Cuddington to nod home from close range, the ball just crossing the ball before Cruttwell could get back and grab it.
With the wind at their backs, Common were much the better side during the remainder of the first half but poor finishing meant they were still behind at the break.
Jamie Crone flashed a shot just wide from outside the box before Common, who were playing some good football, had two great chances to equalise approaching the 20-minute mark.
Crone firstly turned Craig McFarlane and played in Lewis Hole, but the 20-goal striker mishit his shot from eight yards and Bexhill goalkeeper Dan Rose made the save. Tate then stepped his man, but he too failed to make clean contact with his shot and Rose saved.
Common player-manager Russell Eldridge struck a piledriver with his less favoured right foot from inside the D which Rose did well to tip over. Eldridge's resulting corner was headed back across goal by Hole and Tate nodded over.
Harry Saville then played a good ball through Tate, who took the ball perfectly in his stride with his first touch only to shoot wide of the near post with his second. Bexhill full-back Kyle Holden made a great tackle on Crone as he bore down on goal from Eldridge's ball over the top.
Bexhill enjoyed a better spell during the last 10 minutes of the first half. Cruikshank effected an important tackle on Greenall from Matt Cunnington's left wing cross and Common survived a bit of a scramble from the resulting corner.
Common had another decent opening towards the end of the half when Cruttwell's goal kick made its way through to Crone, whose first shot was parried by Rose and subsequent cutback in the direction of Tate was blocked by Holden.
Right at the end of the half, Greenall's well-struck shot went straight into the arms of Cruttwell and Cuddington fired over following a neat one-two with Greenall.
There was little goalmouth incident in the second half until Common equalised in the 65th minute. The officials deemed that Harry Saville was blocked off by Craig Ottley just inside the box on Common's right and Tate drove the resulting penalty into the bottom corner.
Cunnington shot just wide from outside the box before Common grabbed their winner in the 73rd minute. Cruikshank rose highest in a crowded penalty area to head home Eldridge's well-delivered driven corner from the left.
Common did a decent job of seeing the game out thereafter and you couldn't really see Bexhill conjuring up an equaliser. That said, the impressive Greenall fizzed a powerful shot from outside the D straight into the arms of Cruttwell and struck a volley just wide from the right-hand side of the area.
And there was a close call right at the end of the fifth and final minute of added time when Ottley's free kick from wide on the left struck the crossbar before being cleared.
Thankfully there was no repeat of the corresponding fixture last season when five players were sent-off, four of them from Bexhill.
On this occasion four yellow cards were shown - two for either side - and Common's two came deep into added time as things got a bit heated following a foul by Dom Bristow on Greenall.
Bexhill: Rose, Holden, Ottley, Kidman, McFarlane, B. Trickett, Gouet (Wheeler 74), Giles (Butchers 89), Greenall, Cuddington, Cunnington (Shelton 81). Subs not used: A. Trickett, Kane.
Common: Cruttwell, Bristow, Mote, Eldridge, Aston, Cruikshank, Saville (Lusted 90+2), Tate, Hole, Crone, Smith (Denny 83). Subs not used: Wells, Burgon.