Little Common take big step towards safety with hard-earned win

Lewis Hole, scorer of Little Common's winning goal, tussles for possession with AFC Uckfield Town captain Richie Welch. Picture by Simon Newstead
Lewis Hole, scorer of Little Common's winning goal, tussles for possession with AFC Uckfield Town captain Richie Welch. Picture by Simon Newstead

Little Common Football Club took a giant step towards avoiding relegation courtesy of a hard-earned victory yesterday (Saturday).

The Commoners made it back-to-back Southern Combination League Premier Division wins after Lewis Hole’s 29th minute goal gave them a 1-0 success at home to AFC Uckfield Town.

With two games to go, fourth-from-bottom Common are two places and five points ahead of the two relegation spots. All three of the teams below them are now level on points.

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It wasn’t pretty - and it was never likely to be given the firm, bobbly surface and the situation they’re in - but it was certainly effective as Common produced a solid, hard-working display on a hot afternoon to secure three more precious points.

With the ball bouncing all over the place, the majority of the chances at either end during a fairly even first half came from set-pieces.

Uckfield had more of the play during an opening quarter-of-an-hour in which they twice went close. Sam Cooper headed over at the far post from a Richie Welch corner before Callum Smith lobbed just wide of the far post from a tight angle following a ball over the top.

Common then enjoyed a decent spell, during which Russell Eldridge flashed a free kick from the right just wide of the far post before delivering a free kick which Hole glanced fractionally wide. Hole then drove off target from outside the box.

Uckfield spurned a good chance to open the scoring when Ellis Cormack sent a free header over the crossbar at the far post from a well-delivered Welch free kick.

Two minutes later, Common grabbed what proved the winner. Uckfield failed to clear an Eldridge long throw and Hole struck a powerful half-volley into the roof of the net for his third goal in two matches.

Common fashioned two more opportunities before the break. Ryan Paul cleared the crossbar with a header from Eldridge’s left wing free kick, while Adam Smith headed over from close range after Paul flicked on an Eldridge long throw.

In between times, a looping header by Cormack landed on top of Common’s net as home goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell came for but didn’t get to a free kick from Uckfield’s right.

Most of the second period was played in Common’s half of the field, but despite the visitors’ territorial advantage, Uckfield rarely tested Cruttwell as Common remained resolute and determined in defence.

Cormack drove just wide of Common’s goal from outside the box, as did Eldridge and substitute Dan Tewkesbury at the other end, while Franco Mici’s shot from distance was comfortably dealt with by Cruttwell.

Uckfield passed up a golden opportunity to equalise in the 82nd minute when Cormack headed Bailo Camara’s right wing cross over the top from close range.

Common might have added a second goal a minute later. Hole got to Ryan Alexander’s ball over the top before outrushing Uckfield goalkeeper Alex Harris and poked it past him, but mishit his shot with his less favoured right foot and the ball rolled wide.

In the fourth minute of added time, Paul produced an important defensive header at the far post to prevent Cormack getting on the end of Dee Okojie’s cross and complete a victory which leaves Common almost certain to beat the drop.

Common: Cruttwell; Paul, Parsons, Alexander, Weeks; Smith (Tate 84), Ward, Eldridge, Ellis; Hole, Crone (Tewkesbury 60). Subs not used: Ryan, Maynard.

Southern Combination League Premier Division bottom six (played-points): 15 Langney Wanderers 36-37 (-26 goal difference), 16 Loxwood 36-31 (-28), 17 LITTLE COMMON 36-29 (-34), 18 Shoreham 36-24 (-46), 19 Arundel 36-24 (-50), 20 Eastbourne United AFC 36-24 (-50).

Remaining fixtures - Little Common: April 22 Langney Wanderers (a), April 27 Crawley Down Gatwick (h).

Arundel: April 23 East Preston (a), April 27 Broadbridge Heath (h).

Eastbourne United: April 22 Eastbourne Town (h), April 27 Pagham (a).

Shoreham: April 22 Saltdean United (h), April 27 Newhaven (a).