Little Common Football Club ensured it will avoid relegation thanks to an emphatic derby victory yesterday (Easter Monday).
The Commoners came from behind to triumph 4-1 away to Langney Wanderers in the Southern Combination League Premier Division despite having player-manager Russell Eldridge sent-off for the first time in his long and successful career.
Common moved up a place to 16th in the table and are now eight points clear of the two relegation places after a run of three consecutive victories.
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Knowing that just a point would guarantee survival, the Commoners made one change to their starting line-up with Wes Tate coming in to replace Adam Smith.
Despite a relatively even opening to the match on a glorious morning at Priory Lane, it was Wanderers who broke the deadlock in the 19th minute. Common failed to clear a delivery into the box and Tariq Straker had time and space to drive home at the back post.
The goal seemed to spring life into the Commoners and seven minutes later they were level. Sam Ellis picked up the ball just inside the Wanderers half and drove towards goal before unleashing a shot which took a wicked deflection on its way past the home goalkeeper.
Common were now well on top and took the lead in the 34th minute. Wanderers were unable to clear an Eldridge free kick and when the ball fell to Lewis Parsons just inside the area, he volleyed into the far corner of the net.
Common added a third before the interval. Another Eldridge free kick was headed back across goal by substitute Zack McEniry and prodded home by Tate at the back post.
The second half began in similar fashion, with Common on the front foot, and the match was all but put to bed in the 47th minute. Jamie Crone’s delivery across the box found Tate at the far post for his second and Common’s fourth.
Crone almost made it five, latching on to an Eldridge throughball and flicking it beyond the home goalkeeper, but a covering defender was on hand to clear off the line.
The match took a swing in momentum in the 65th minute when Eldridge was harshly shown a second yellow card, leaving the Commoners to see out the final 25 minutes with 10 men.
Wanderers went on to enjoy their best spell of the game and should have reduced their deficit on a number of occasions, hitting the post from a tight angle and then seeing a shot clear the crossbar when Gary Ingram raced through on goal.
The Commoners stood firm, however, to complete a win which guarantees they will once again be playing Premier Division football next season.
Common: Cruttwell, Paul, Weeks, Ward, Parsons, Alexander (McEniry), Tate, Eldridge, Hole (Smith), Crone, Ellis.
Southern Combination League Premier Division bottom six (played-points): 15 Langney Wanderers 37-37 (-29 goal difference), 16 LITTLE COMMON 37-32 (-31), 17 Loxwood 36-31 (-28), 18 Shoreham 37-24 (-47), 19 Arundel 36-24 (-50), 20 Eastbourne United AFC 37-24 (-52).