The footballers of Little Common and Bexhill United will go head-to-head this morning in what will be the last senior match at Little Common Recreation Ground for at least a year.
The Easter Monday derby, which will kick-off at 11am, will be Common’s final home game of the Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One season and next term they will play their home matches at Eastbourne United AFC.
Common have already all but secured a top three finish, but they can make 100 percent sure with a draw or better in their first home fixture since March 4.
Bexhill realistically need a win to stand any chance of finishing in the top half and will be keen to end their season with a four-match unbeaten run.
Common player-manager Russell Eldridge said: “People will hype things up when you play certain teams, but we’ll approach the game no differently from every other game this season and be looking to try and get three points.”
Bexhill joint manager Ryan Light believes Common are favourites, largely because of their prolific attacking form. The Commoners average three goals per game in the league this season.
Light said: “I think they’re definitely favourites. If you look at their goals for column, I think they go into almost any game in our division as favourites because they’ve got so much firepower at their disposal.
“It’s been a learning year for us. We’ve had to rebuild and the foundations we’ve laid will stand us in good stead for next year.”
Common have lost only once at home in the league all season, and are seven places and 25 points above their crosstown rivals.
“I’m sure people might want to make us favourites, but both teams have got as much chance of winning as each other,” continued Eldridge. “We’ve got some good players in the group and we’ll back ourselves.
“But it’s going to be a tough game. They haven’t played for nearly a month so I’m sure they’ll be chomping at the bit and it’s going to be a close game I would imagine as well.
“Having known Nigel (Kane, Bexhill’s other joint manager) and played for Nigel (Eldridge was part of the Hastings United team which Kane led to promotion from Ryman League Division One South 10 years ago) I know whatever team he sets out he’s very meticulous in his approach.”
Common have won the last four league meetings between the crosstown rivals (five in all competitions), including a come-from-behind 2-1 victory in this season’s reverse fixture on Boxing Day.
“We will base our gameplan on what we saw at Christmas,” continued Light. “Their movement was good going forward, but it’s more about what we do at this point.
“We’ll go into the game concentrating on us. We know their obvious strengths and we’ll pinpoint their weaknesses, which they do have as well.
“We’re on an excellent run of form and we believe we can win the game. We’ve found a bit of consistency towards the end (of the season) and Dave Pugh coming in was a big boost for us because we could change the system.”
Third-placed Common are three points above fourth-placed Mile Oak, who only have one game left (away to Southwick tomorrow), and their goal difference is 12 goals better.
Common also need four goals from their remaining two matches (the other is away to Midhurst & Easebourne on Saturday) to achieve a century of league goals this season.
“We’re 180 minutes away from completing what’s been a very good season,” added Eldridge. “We’ve got some targets within the group that we want to achieve and the group have been magnificent all season; I can’t really fault any of them.”
Bexhill will be missing three key players as they seek a first victory at Little Common Rec for a number of years.
Drew Greenall, who turned down a recent approach from Common, is unavailable, while midfield duo Kyle Holden and Gordon Cuddington are suspended.
Kevin Barden is fully fit after injury, though, and Brett Patton - a midfielder who has joined the club on a dual registration basis with St Leonards Social - may well feature.
With Matt Cruttwell set to return in goal, Common should be close to full strength. Jamie Crone was due to train last week after several weeks out with a knee injury.
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