The footballers of Bexhill United and Little Common are set to battle it out in what some are calling the most hotly anticipated derby for several years.
The crosstown rivals will go head-to-head at The Polegrove on Boxing Day (tomorrow) with local bragging rights and three precious Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One points at stake. Kick-off is 11am.
Bexhill joint manager Ryan Light said: “Quite a few people have said to me this is probably the most hotly anticipated derby there’s been for quite a few years.
“I think the people of Bexhill should be really proud of the football in the town at the moment. Both clubs have got good, young players, and both try and play football in the right way.”
Common are three points clear at the top of the table having won all of their last six league matches. Bexhill are 14 points and seven places worse off having lost their last three.
“The formbook suggests Little Common come into the game as big favourites and rightly so, but the wonderful thing about derby matches is the formbook gets ripped up and thrown out the window,” continued Light.
“We’re disappointed not to be closer in the league to them, but come Boxing Day there won’t be much between the teams.”
Common possess the best goal difference in the division having scored more than any other club with 63 in their 20 league matches so far.
Their player-manager Russell Eldridge said: “For me there’s no favourites. It’s 11 men against 11 men and we’ll do our best to win the game - that’s what we do week in, week out.
“Maybe it has a little bit of a different feel to it being a derby game, but to us the most important thing is to try and pick up the points that are available.”
With Bexhill under new management this season and possessing a very different set of players, both clubs are expecting a different sort of derby to those of previous years.
Five players were sent-off in the corresponding fixture last term - four from Bexhill and one from Common - when Common ended their miserable recent record at The Polegrove with a 2-0 win.
“I think there will be much more quality in the game in terms of football,” added Light, who expects most of the players who missed last weekend’s defeat at Southwick to return for the derby. Kevin Barden, however, is likely to be out for two or three weeks having torn a muscle in his quad.
“Nigel (Kane) and Ryan have done a good job down there, and they’ve brought in some young players so I expect it to be a tough game, like any game will be,” added Eldridge.
“It probably will be a little bit different. With maybe not so many local-based players, it may not have that edge that it has done in the past.
“We’ll be looking to end the year with another victory, and to do that we’ll have to work hard and do things in the right way because I know they’ll be up for it. Having played for Nigel, he has his teams well-organised so it will be a difficult task.”
Anthony Cooper, Jamie Crone and Steve Mote are expected to be back for Common. Zack McEniry is rated 50-50 and Louis Walker is suspended following his recent red card against Shoreham.
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