Little Common’s footballers produced a brave display as they were narrowly beaten in a league cup semi-final tonight (Tuesday).
The Commoners were edged out 1-0 by higher grade Lancing in a Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Peter Bentley Challenge Cup last four tie played at Eastbourne United AFC.
The only goal came from an 80th minute penalty as a Lancing side lying fourth in the Premier Division eventually shook off a Common team sitting seventh in Division One.
Common would have been keen to put on a show on what would have been the 82nd birthday of Ken Cherry, their club founder and chairman who died in January, and he surely would have been proud of their endeavours on a lovely spring evening.
The first half was packed full of chances and although Lancing fashioned the majority of them, Common came the closest to scoring when Lewis Hole’s 20th minute shot on the turn struck the base of the far post.
Lancing, nonetheless, would have been wondering how they failed to score in the opening 25 minutes. Common goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell denied a clean through Tom Caplin early on and player-manager Russell Eldridge then pulled off a brilliant goal-line block to keep out a Josh Spinks effort at a corner.
Will Berry’s first time shot from inside the box was held by the impressive Cruttwell, who subsequently stopped Caplin’s shot with his legs moments after Hole hit the post at the other end. Cruttwell then made a good save low to his right from Berry and thwarted Max Howell in the same attack.
Howell and Mike Williamson were off target for Lancing, as was Eldridge for Common, before Dan Estherby brought a fine save from Lancing stopper Josh Green diving to his right. Jake Sherwood headed just over from the resulting Liam Foster corner.
Howell drove into the side-netting and Fair’s low shot from just outside the area was well held by Cruttwell low to his left either side of Hole’s effort from an Estherby cross landing on top of the net.
Opportunities continued to come and go at the start of the second half. Cruttwell stopped Fair in his tracks as he tried to round him within a minute of the restart before saving Naz Rouane’s free kick low to his right and clutching a Williamson header. At the other end, Hole’s header from a Foster corner was blocked near the line.
Attempts at goal became less frequent after the hour. Foster and Fair flashed shots just off target at either end before Lancing landed the decisive blow. The referee pointed to the spot following challenges from Dave Ammoun and Eldridge (it looked as though either could have been penalised), and Fair duly sent Cruttwell the wrong way with the penalty.
Fair and Rouane fired over for Lancing thereafter, while Common had one last attempt deep into added time when Ammoun hooked the ball over the top from an Eldridge free kick. Lancing will take on Newhaven in the final on May 4.
Common: Cruttwell, Sherwood, Maynard, Eldridge, Ammoun, Mote (Denny 85), Foster, Brown, Hole, Crone, Estherby. Subs not used: Burgon, Lusted, Wells, Curteis.
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