We’ve done well, but not well enough’ was the verdict of Little Common player-manager Russell Eldridge after the football club’s gallant FA Cup exit.
The Commoners were edged out 2-1 away to higher grade Bedfont Sports in an extra preliminary round replay last night (Tuesday) following a 2-2 draw at home on Sunday.
Eldridge said: “We’ve done well, but we’ve not done well enough because we’ve not won the tie. There are a lot of positives, but we’re extremely disappointed as a group and you could see that on the boys’ faces last night. We could have and possibly should have won the tie.
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“Over the two games they’ve known they’ve been in a really good game against us and at times we’ve probably been the better team - and at times they were the better team as well.”
Eldridge felt Common’s best chance came during the first game when Bedfont had a player sent-off in the 37th minute (plus a second man dismissed shortly before the end).
“I guess over both games the opportunity was probably missed on Sunday when we had them down to 10 men at half time when we were at home,” he continued.
“We couldn’t quite get ourselves in the lead and when they scored it became difficult. In the end we were very happy to get back on level terms and give ourselves another chance.”
Despite having to make a long midweek journey to the Heathrow area at short notice, Common fielded an unchanged starting line-up for the replay.
All three goals came during the first half. Bedfont struck first in the 24th minute when Jason Nwachukwu reacted quicker than the Common defence to turn home the rebound after away goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell had made a good save from the initial effort.
Common levelled 13 minutes later. Eldridge played a quick free kick down the side of the Bedfont defensive wall and Wes Tate cut in before placing a fine finish into the far corner.
The away side was only on terms for four minutes, however, because Scott Harris grabbed what turned out to be the winner - and a contentious one at that - as Common unsuccessfully appealed for handball.
“We felt extremely aggrieved at the second goal,” said Eldridge. “It was a clear handball. The guy was running through and palmed it into his path before shooting.
“That’s not the reason we lost the game, but we had just got ourselves back into it and it came five minutes before half time. The guy was almost embarrassed that he got away with it.”
A second equaliser eluded Common during the second half, but it certainly wasn’t for the want of trying. Chris Cumming-Bart had a shot cleared off the line, Lewis Hole was denied by the home goalkeeper in a one-one-one situation, Eldridge hit the post with a free kick and Sam Ellis couldn’t quite turn the ball home at the end.
Bedfont also had their chances, particularly as Common were chasing the game, and although they didn’t add to their tally, the Eagles did enough to earn a preliminary round trip to Sevenoaks Town on August 25.
“First half last night we were probably disappointed with our defending and we were a bit sloppy in possession of the ball, whether that was the journey or a bit of fatigue I’m not too sure,” said Eldridge.
“We gave it a go second half and we had some really good opportunities. At times we played some really good football; we just couldn’t find the end product.”
It was a long evening for Common, who began their journey to Middlesex around 4.15pm and didn’t get back until gone midnight.
“I thanked the boys for their effort and commitment in making the journey to the game,” Eldridge added. “People gave up their time to do that and they should be commended for that. The effort towards the club was fantastic.”
Common: Cruttwell, Paul (Cumming-Bart), Parsons, Ward (Clifford), Willett, Eldridge, Tate, Penn, Hole, Crone (Ellis), Smith. Subs not used: Ryan, Maynard.
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