Little Common set for ’absolutely vital’ three games

Ryan Paul on the ball during Little Common's 2-0 defeat at home to Saltdean United last weekend. Picture by Simon Newstead
Ryan Paul on the ball during Little Common's 2-0 defeat at home to Saltdean United last weekend. Picture by Simon Newstead

Little Common player-manager Russell Eldridge says he can’t express enough the significance of the football club’s next three games.

The Commoners will face three teams in the bottom nine of the table during the remainder of February as they battle to avoid relegation from the Southern Combination League Premier Division.

Eldridge said: “I think these next three games are absolutely vital to us and will probably go a long way to deciding our future.

“I can’t express enough how important they are. We’re playing a couple of teams in and around us and we have to be taking points off them.”

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Common are third-from-bottom of the table and only goal difference is keeping them outside the two relegation places.

They will entertain fourth-from-bottom Arundel, who they trail by a point, tomorrow (Saturday) before travelling to 12th-placed Hassocks next weekend and hosting 14th-placed East Preston on Tuesday February 26.

Common have drawn five and lost nine of their last 14 league outings, and their last win came in October’s reverse fixture against Arundel when Sam Ellis scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 victory.

“That was a good result down at Arundel,” continued Eldridge. “We will be looking to replicate something similar, but likewise they will be looking to avenge that defeat.

“It’s a vital game; there’s no two ways about it. Some people will be able to cope with the pressure and some people won’t - that’s what sport’s about; those pressurised situations and dealing with it.

“I’m not sure it will be a classic, but ultimately the end result and the points gained are more important than how the game looks to the eye - and that’s got to be what our focus is on.”

Eldridge is determined to take the game to an Arundel side which has conceded more goals and won fewer away matches than any other team in the division.

“We might have to have a slightly different approach,” he went on. “We need to try to find a way to get on the front foot and try to get our noses in front. I think psychologically that’s very important.

“I think we have to be positive and ensure we give ourselves the best opportunity of getting the positive result that we want and need.

“The first part of the season’s gone now; we can’t change what’s happened. All our focus is going to be on now is securing points from these remaining games.”

Common go into the Arundel clash off the back of a 2-0 loss at home to fifth-placed Saltdean United.

“After the game on Saturday we had a bit of a heart-to-heart in the dressing room for a good 45 minutes to an hour,” added Eldridge. “I expressed a few feelings and the boys expressed a few feelings.

“We got a few things off our chest, which I felt was needed. I’m hoping for a reaction from the group this week.”

Ryan Alexander and Ellis are set to return for tomorrow’s match, which will kick-off at 3pm, but there is no Lewis Parsons.

Dual-registered young players Panashe Makwiramiti and James Pool seem likely to remain with parent club Hastings United for the foreseeable future.