Little Common Football Club finally ended a four-month winless run tonight (Tuesday).
After seven draws and nine defeats in their previous 16 Southern Combination Football League Premier Division matches, the Commoners rediscovered the winning formula with a 1-0 victory at home to East Preston.
Ryan Alexander’s first half goal earned Common three precious points in their quest for survival, moving them up a place to fourth-from-bottom of the table.
See also: * Little Common set for vital home clash
* Little Common out of relegation zone after away draw
* Little Common set for two key games in four days
It might not have been pretty, but Common showed all the qualities you would want to see from a side fighting relegation. They defended doggedly, worked tirelessly and ground out a result against a side which beat them by the same score in August’s reverse fixture.
Common gave a debut to Danny Andrews, who is dual registered with Hollington United, on the right-hand side of midfield in a fixture which went ahead at the third time of asking having been postponed twice previously within an hour of the scheduled kick-off.
A young and bright East Preston team which played some good football made the stronger start and David Beaney saw a 25-yard free kick well tipped over by Common goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell.
Midway through the first half Beaney delivered a free kick from which a Lewis Jenkins header was saved by Cruttwell diving to his left. Jenkins was whiskers away from getting on the end of the resulting corner at the far post.
Common grabbed what proved to be the winner in the 25th minute. Russell Eldridge’s free kick into the East Preston box was flicked on by a Common head and a miskick in the away defence allowed Alexander to poke the ball home.
Beaney drove narrowly over from just outside the box after a nice move down the East Preston right and shortly before half time Sam Pidgeon headed just wide of the far post from Jakob Heryet’s left wing corner.
Using a tactic of lining several players up in front of each other before spinning off in different directions, East Preston looked threatening from corners and Tom Lyne acrobatically volleyed over from such situation early in the second period.
A good strike by Jack Barnes on the half-volley from the edge of the box was safely dealt with by Cruttwell, but at this stage Common were looking fairly secure on the whole.
Common had a rare chance to double their advantage when Wes Tate latched on to Liam Ward’s ball over the top, but his shot was well saved by George Bentley in the away goal.
The Commoners started to come under concerted pressure as the game entered its final 20 minutes and Lucas Pattenden dragged an angled drive wide of Cruttwell’s far post.
Common somehow survived an 81st minute corner by Barnes from which East Preston had two attempts blocked on the goal-line - a passage of play which exemplified their determination and sheer will to win.
Barnes later saw a dipping effort from outside the box land on top of the net, but Common held on and their celebrations after the final whistle illustrated their relief and just how much the result meant.
Common: Cruttwell; Feakins, Alexander, Paul, Parsons; Andrews, Ward, Tate (Smith 78), Eldridge; Hole (Crone 84), Ellis.
Southern Combination League Premier Division bottom six (played-points): 15 Loxwood 28-24 (-27 goal difference), 16 Langney Wanderers 29-24 (-29), 17 LITTLE COMMON 29-23 (-24), 18 Shoreham 29-21 (-36), 19 Arundel 29-21 (-39), 20 Eastbourne United AFC 28-18 (-43).