Little Common’s footballers saw their FA Vase debut falter at the first hurdle after a 2-1 defeat away to Haywards Heath Town on Saturday.
All the goals came in the first half as Common were narrowly beaten in a first round qualifying tie which they finished with 10 men.
Competing in the prestigious national knockout competition for the first time, Common were handed a tough draw against a strong, experienced Heath outfit which is no doubt destined for a good season.
The in-form Jamie Crone was missing for the Commoners and was replaced by Paul Feakins, while Jake Sherwood also returned to the starting line-up in place of the injured Steve Mote.
After an even opening, the hosts began to stamp their authority on the match and a flurry of corners kept the Common defence on their toes.
Heath took the lead in the ninth minute when a delivery into the box was cleared to the edge of the area and Rob O’Toole’s fierce first time strike found its way into the top corner of the net.
One nearly became two, but O’Toole clipped the ball over Matt Cruttwell and the wrong side of the post when he found himself one on one with the Common stopper.
Freddie Barker saw two glorious chances go begging for the hosts, firstly seeing an effort drift wide before blasting over when well placed in the box.
Common were finding it difficult to get their normal passing game going, although did enjoy a spell of pressure in which Lewis Hole drew a smart save from the home goalkeeper before Martin Denny had an effort blocked in the area.
Heath doubled their lead in the 36th minute when a harshly awarded free kick was delivered into the area and despite the initial clearance, a looping header back across goal left Cruttwell stranded as it found the top corner of the net.
Common hit back immediately when Hole was released in the area and after rounding the home goalkeeper, he poked home.
The second half once again saw the hosts begin on the front foot as they looked for a third, but Cruttwell was once again in fine form, twice pulling off good saves to keep Common’s deficit at one.
At the other end, Denny was inches away from getting on the end of a Russell Eldridge free kick before substitute Jack Wilson-Jones hit the upright following a Hole flick on.
Common’s task was made even harder 15 minutes from time when Denny was dismissed for his second caution of the match.
Common nevertheless went on to enjoy their best spell of the match as they looked to force extra-time. Zack McEniry had a glorious chance to equalise when the ball fell kindly in the box only to see his effort saved by the legs of the home goalkeeper.
Heath threatened to put the match beyond Common with a number of counter-attacks, but Cruttwell was once again on hand to rescue the Commoners before a last minute goalbound Eldridge free kick was palmed to safety as the hosts booked their place in the next round.
Common: Cruttwell, Lusted, Sherwood, Ammoun (Haward), McEniry, Eldridge, Denny, Feakins (Wilson-Jones), Hole, Foster, Estherby (Holden).
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!