Common poised to make FA Cup debut

Wes Tate is on the way back from an ankle injury as Little Common get set to make their FA Cup debut. Picture courtesy Catherine Gurney
Wes Tate is on the way back from an ankle injury as Little Common get set to make their FA Cup debut. Picture courtesy Catherine Gurney

Little Common Football Club is poised to play its first ever FA Cup match - at home to its new landlords.

The Commoners will host Eastbourne United AFC - the team with whom Common are groundsharing this season - in the extra preliminary round today (Saturday).

Kick-off at The Oval is 3pm and the winners will be away to Littlehampton Town or Chatham Town in the preliminary round on August 19.

Common player-manager Russell Eldridge said: “We’re really looking forward to it. It’s a big day and an important occasion for everyone associated with the club. It’s another step in the direction of what we’re trying to do.”

Eldridge’s side, which finished runners-up in Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One last season, will be aiming to spring a surprise against an Eastbourne team which came seventh in the Premier Division.

“I think it’s probably destiny we would be playing Eastbourne United,” Eldridge continued. “We would’ve probably preferred to play a team we didn’t know, from a different league possibly, but it’s a good game for us. They’re going to be fearing us as much as we fear them.

“I think it’s quite an interesting tie. It’s the first game of the season for both teams and I guess it will be the team that applies themselves best on the day, but it’s a hard one to call.”

Common have played three higher level and three lower level opponents in their pre-season friendlies over the past few weeks.

Their final warm-up match ended in an 8-2 victory against Hildenborough at Mascalls Academy in Paddock Wood on Saturday. Eldridge scored two of the goals, one of which was a penalty, and there was one apiece for Rosh Wells, Nick Richardson, Zack McEniry, Jared Lusted, Sam Ellis and Tate.

Tate, who is now doubling up as assistant manager, was playing his first 45 minutes after suffering an ankle ligament injury during the summer.

“Friendlies are what they are; you have to put a bit of perspective into them,” Eldridge went on. “Some people will be hellbent on results, some people will use them for different things.

“It’s about giving everyone game time, maybe looking at different people and building up your fitness. With the good range of friendlies we’ve had, we’ve done that.

“We’ve had to work hard to compete against some teams, and in other ones we’ve had more of the ball and dominated the game.”

From last season’s squad, Common have lost influential defender Dan Cruikshank, who isn’t playing football at the moment.

But they’ve brought in another centre-half, Lewis Parsons, from Hailsham Town, plus midfielder Liam Ward and attacking player Ellis, both from Westfield.

Ward, incidentally, is the son of Dave Ward, who many will remember as a fine midfielder for Sidley United from the not too distant past, and has impressed in the warm-up games.

What’s more, Charlie Bachellier is back from university and Jerome Smith is expected to feature before going travelling at the end of August.

Accomplished defender Smith was a regular fixture in the Common back line before having spells in the Ryman League with Hastings United and East Grinstead Town over the last two seasons.

“It’s going to be a tough decision to pick 11 players because we’ve got probably 16, 17 who could easily start,” added Eldridge. “The boys have worked hard in pre-season and plenty of people have put themselves up for selection.”