Little Common’s footballers had to settle for a point after seeing a two-goal half time lead disappear away to title-chasing Saltdean United yesterday (Saturday).
A Lewis Hole double had put Common in charge of this Macron Store Southern Combination Football League second versus third clash, but a Saltdean side which had won 10 and drawn one of its previous 11 league games hit back to earn a 2-2 draw.
Common went into the match on the back of a battling midweek win at Langney Wanderers and once again showed their fighting spirit against their big-spending hosts.
Player-manager Russell Eldridge made one change to his starting line-up, with Dan Tewkesbury replacing the injured Harry Saville.
The Commoners kicked with the strong wind in the opening period and enjoyed the better of the chances in the early minutes, Hole driving an effort wide of the post from a tight angle.
The hosts saw a free kick comfortably saved by Matt Cruttwell before Hole opened the scoring from close range in the 17th minute following a neat cut-back by Jared Lusted.
Hole went close to doubling the lead but fired wide, while Saltdean were thwarted by the assistant’s flag when a ball over the top appeared to set Andrew McDowell free.
Common increased their lead when a neat interchange on the edge of the area saw Lusted feed the ball to Adam Smith, whose effort was saved, but Hole tapped in the rebound.
Saltdean had a penalty appeal for handball waved away just before half time, but pulled one back right at the start of the second period. Cruttwell spilled an effort which bobbled in the area and the ball rebounded for Josh Jones to stroke home.
Common were whiskers away from extending their lead as Smith saw a thunderous effort from the edge of the area cannon off the angle of post and crossbar before Wes Tate was unable find enough room for a shot after some trickery in the penalty area.
Saltdean levelled in the 55th minute. The Common defence was unable to prevent the ball bouncing following a delivery over the top and Ashley Rees, who scored four goals against Bexhill United exactly a month earlier, fired home from close range.
As expected the hosts went in search of a winner and Cruttwell was needed to deflect an effort with his feet before Rees lobbed just wide.
Common also looked dangerous on the break and Tate saw a shot just slide the wrong side of the post before a goalbound Bradley Pritchard free kick was headed to safety.
McDowell almost snatched a winner right at the death after muscling his way between two Common defenders, but his attempted lob landed on top of the net.
Common were the last team to beat Saltdean (they won December’s reverse fixture 2-1) and they are one of only two clubs in the division to have taken four points off them this season.
Common: Cruttwell, Bristow, Mote, Pritchard, Eldridge, Cruikshank, Smith (McEniry), Lusted, Hole, Tate, Tewkebury (Wells).
Southern Combination League Division One top eight (played-points): 1 East Preston 31-71, 2 Saltdean United 31-70, 3 LITTLE COMMON 31-66, 4 Mile Oak 32-66, 5 Steyning Town 33-60, 6 Lingfield 30-54, 7 Selsey 29-46, 8 BEXHILL UNITED 33-44.
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