Little Common Football Club finished its season with a fourth consecutive victory.
Jamie Crone’s second half goal gave the Commoners a 1-0 win at home to Crawley Down Gatwick yesterday (Saturday).
Having looked in danger of relegation at the start of the month, Common ended up three places and eight points above the two Southern Combination League Premier Division demotion spots.
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Common’s landlords Eastbourne United AFC pulled off a great escape, jumping up two places off the bottom and bridging a three-point gap to safety on the final day.
Eastbourne won 3-2 away to Pagham to finish just above Arundel on goal difference after Arundel lost 6-0 at home to Broadbridge Heath. Shoreham also lost to finish bottom.
With an extremely strong wind blowing straight down the pitch, a predictably scrappy encounter unfolded at The Oval.
Common played with the elements in their favour during the first half, but didn’t really make the most of them. Not that it was easy, with any balls even slightly misplaced or over-hit simply racing out of play.
Sam Ellis had an angled shot saved early on following a lovely flick by Wes Tate and Ryan Paul then headed wide of the far post from Tate’s left wing corner.
Crawley Down enjoyed a strong spell for 5-10 minutes later in the half. Ollie Broad’s shot was comfortably saved by Common goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell after he rode a couple of challenges, while Cruttwell tipped over a shot from Josh Martin and Josh Brown drove just wide.
The best chance of the opening period came shortly before the break. Tate played a good ball through to Crone, who calmly rounded away goalkeeper Andy Greaves only for his shot to be brilliantly cleared off the line by covering defender Sam Packham. Zack McEniry fired over from the resulting corner.
You felt the second half might be tough for Common against the wind, but ninth-placed Crawley Down offered little attacking threat and the home side grabbed a winner in the 65th minute.
Lewis Hole slipped a neat short pass through to strike partner Crone, who again rounded the goalkeeper and this time there was no goal-line clearance as he rolled the ball into the net.
Common, who gave a rare start to Dan Ryan at left-back, could have had a second goal eight minutes later. Crone got away down the right and delivered a decent ball across the box, but Ellis failed to connect with his attempted shot when invitingly placed.
The Commoners were rarely troubled at the other end and saw the game out comfortably. Sam Packham headed well over from Michael Wood’s corner and Wood’s low shot from the edge of the box was comfortably saved by Cruttwell in Crawley Down’s best moments.
It meant Common ended the campaign with 35 points from 38 matches and four of their nine league victories came in April. Two of the others were in the season’s opening week back in August.
Common: Cruttwell; Paul, McEniry, Parsons, Ryan (Weeks 71); Smith (Feakins 71), Ward (Eldridge 83), Tate, Ellis; Hole, Crone.
Southern Combination League Premier Division bottom six final standings (all played 38 matches): 15 Langney Wanderers 37pts (-30 goal difference), 16 LITTLE COMMON 35 (-30), 17 Loxwood 31 (-34), 18 Eastbourne United AFC 27 (-51), 19 Arundel 27 (-54), 20 Shoreham 24 (-50).