A hat-trick from Lewis Hole saw Little Common Football Club all but seal a top three finish with a comfortable 5-1 win away to Lingfield on Saturday.
Hole’s treble blast took his tally of Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One goals this season to 30 and made it 34 in all competitions.
With Matt Cruttwell unavailable, Zack McEniry donned the goalkeeper’s gloves and Common player-manager Russell Eldridge named the same outfield 10 which drew 2-2 at second-placed Saltdean United seven days previously.
Lingfield enjoyed the better of the opening minutes, putting the Common defence under pressure without creating a clearcut opening or testing McEniry.
Common opened the scoring in the 17th minute, however, with their first effort of the match. Hole was given time in the penalty area to place a shot beyond the home goalkeeper which went in off the post.
Play had barely restarted when Hole doubled Common’s lead, taking time to set himself before slotting past the advancing goalkeeper following Eldridge’s quick free kick.
A similar throughball set Wes Tate through on goal, but his run was thwarted by the assistant’s flag. Dan Tewkesbury and Hole linked up well in the area to force a corner before Adam Smith was unable to connect with Tate’s ball across the box.
The home team showed signs of getting back into the match as the first half wore on and McEniry was on hand to tip a goalbound header over the crossbar before Lingfield saw a penalty claim for handball waved away.
Knowing the next goal would be crucial, Common began the second period on the front foot and added a third in the 53rd minute. A delivery into the box from Tewkesbury was flicked on by Hole for Tate to tap into an empty net.
Three soon became four when Dan Cruikshank headed home from a free kick as tempers began to flare among the home players.
Hole saw a goalbound effort blocked following some neat football on the edge of the area, while Bradley Pritchard’s driving run and cross in the box was cleared to safety.
Lingfield pulled a goal back with just under half-an-hour to play when the Common defence failed to clear a delivery into the box.
The hosts went on to enjoy a good spell of possession and forced numerous corners as they looked to find a way back into the match.
But Common completed the scoring in the 90th minute when Hole - the division’s second highest scorer - raced through to complete his hat-trick.
Common: McEniry, Bristow (Walker), Mote, Pritchard, Cruikshank, Eldridge, Smith (Saville), Lusted, Hole, Tate, Tewkesbury (Wells).
Southern Combination League Division One top half (played-points): 1 East Preston 32-74 (+54 goal difference), 2 Saltdean United 32-73 (+50), 3 LITTLE COMMON 32-69 (+47), 4 Mile Oak 33-66 (+35), 5 Steyning Town 34-60 (+17), 6 Lingfield 31-54 (+17), 7 Selsey 30-49 (+15), 8 Midhurst & Easebourne 30-44 (+3), 9 BEXHILL UNITED 33-44 (-6).
See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!