Little Common Football Club came through a tricky-looking fixture yesterday (Saturday) to edge three points closer to promotion.
A goal in either half from prolific duo Lewis Hole and Jamie Crone gave the Macron Store Southern Combination League Division One leaders a 2-0 victory at home to a dogged Midhurst & Easebourne.
Common were missing Harry Saville and Sam Winter due to illness, while player-manager Russell Eldridge returned to the starting line-up to replace Louis Walker, who dropped to the bench with a slight groin injury.
The visitors arrived with a much-improved side to that which Common had beaten comfortably 5-0 back in September and gave a good account of themselves in what was a tough battle for the Commoners.
On a difficult surface which had recovered well from the recent spell of wet weather, Common made the perfect start. An Eldridge free kick from the halfway line was met by Hole, who looped a header over the visiting goalkeeper after just four minutes.
If the Commoners thought that another goal fest was on the cards, they were mistaken as Midhurst made it difficult for them and went on to enjoy a succession of corners without really threatening Matt Cruttwell’s goal.
They saw a penalty appeal for handball turned down and then created their best chance of the half when a quickly taken free kick caught Common off guard, but Cruttwell saved well at his near post.
In a somewhat niggly affair, neither team created many clearcut chances in the remainder of the first half, although Charlie Bachellier and Adam Smith saw inviting deliveries into the Midhurst box flash across the face of goal.
The second period began in a similar fashion, although the Commoners looked more dangerous on the break as they looked to grab a crucial second goal and take the game away from the opposition.
A tremendous surging run from Ryan Paul saw him drive into the area and pull the ball back to Crone, but his first time volley cleared the crossbar.
Crone then saw a penalty appeal turned down when the ball appeared to strike the hand of a Midhurst defender as he attempted to feed it through to Hole.
The second goal did arrive in the 67th minute. Paul’s throw was neatly flicked into the path of Crone by Wes Tate and he made no mistake by rifling the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
The goal seemed to deflate the visitors and they looked less of a threat as the half wore on, although Cruttwell did have to make one relatively comfortable save down to his right with 10 minutes remaining.
Hole saw a late effort clear the crossbar and Crone appeared to be pushed in the area as Common saw out the win against a Midhurst side which had won five and drawn one of its previous six contests.
The result leaves Common needing five points from their remaining seven matches to guarantee a top three finish.
Common: Cruttwell, Paul, Parsons, Ward, Maynard, Parsons, Tate, Bachellier, Hole, Crone, Smith (Ellis).
Southern Combination League Division One top half (played-points): 1 LITTLE COMMON 27-70 (+65 goal difference), 2 Langney Wanderers 26-63 (+56), 3 Lingfield 25-55 (+45), 4 Ringmer 27-48 (+18), 5 BEXHILL UNITED 27-46 (+23), 6 Wick 24-44 (+25), 7 Mile Oak 27-44 (+7), 8 Selsey 25-40 (+9), 9 Hailsham Town 24-35 (-3).
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