Despite fielding a severely depleted squad, Little Common Football Club returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory at Storrington on Saturday.
Goals from Bradley Pritchard, Adam Smith and Jamie Crone ensured Common remain top of Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One on goal difference.
Common were missing six players from the squad which travelled to Wick the previous weekend, including player-manager Russell Eldridge and assistant Wes Tate.
The awful weather conditions were never going to allow for a free-flowing match. Kicking with the wind in the first half, the Commoners made the slightly better start and should have been ahead after just two minutes when Crone raced through on goal before pulling the ball back to Lewis Hole, but his first time effort cleared the crossbar.
Sam Ellis saw a low drive pushed round the post before the hosts began to cause problems of their own. A timely Jamie Fielding interception thwarted Joe Warner as he bore down on goal before the same player blazed over from a tight angle.
The opening goal came two minutes before half time. Pritchard picked up the ball just inside the Storrington half and drove towards goal. A neat one-two with Hole on the edge of the area allowed him to take one touch and fire into the bottom corner of the net.
Common almost doubled their lead on the stroke of half time when Hole’s fierce drive was beaten out by the home goalkeeper, who reacted quickly to deny Crone’s follow-up.
The hosts almost equalised in the first minute of the second period. Following a scramble in the area, Warner’s effort appeared to be heading in, but Smith was on hand to clear off the line.
It was Smith who doubled Common’s lead in the 53rd minute. A driving run from Ellis saw him pick out Hole at the far post and his lay-off allowed Smith to drive beyond a crowd of players into the far corner for his first goal of the season.
Common now looked the most likely to add to their tally and had a glorious chance to wrap up victory in the 75th minute. Crone was upended in the area, but Hole’s spot-kick was saved and the rebound was cleared to safety.
Pritchard saw a free kick just fall the wrong side of the post before Hole’s long range effort was comfortably dealt with by the home goalkeeper.
Storrington gave themselves a lifeline in the 90th minute when a free kick on the left found its way into the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Common struck again in the final minute, however. Cruttwell’s long ball up the pitch rebounded off Hole into the path of Crone, who made no mistake with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Common: Cruttwell, Curteis, Walker, Ward, Fielding, Maynard, Smith (Wells), Pritchard, Hole, Crone, Ellis.
Southern Combination League Division One top eight (played-points): 1 LITTLE COMMON 12-31 (+41 goal difference), 2 Wick 12-31 (+30), 3 Lingfield 12-25 (+17), 4 Langney Wanderers 11-25 (+16), 5 Steyning Town 11-21 (+15), 6 Selsey 11-19 (+9), 7 BEXHILL UNITED 12-18 (+14), 8 Seaford Town 11-18 (+3).