Little Common’s footballers suffered only their second cup defeat of the season last night (Tuesday) after losing a penalty shoot-out.
The Commoners were beaten 3-2 on spot-kicks in round two of the Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One Challenge Cup by a Langney Wanderers side which had an outfield player in goal.
Common had earlier twice come from behind in a match which finished 1-1 after the original 90 minutes and 2-2 at the end of extra-time courtesy of goals from Billy Trickett and Russell Eldridge, but in truth Langney deserved to go through.
In a match switched to Little Common Recreation Ground because Langney aren’t yet in possession of floodlights, Langney goalkeeper Lee Daubney somehow prevented Lewis Hole giving Common a 13th minute lead after good balls from Kyle Holden and Sam Brown.
As so often happens in football, a narrow escape at one end is followed by a goal at the other soon afterwards. Paul Rogers received a Paul Weatherby pass inside the Common area and showed good feet to work space for a low shot past goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell.
Common were only behind for two minutes, however, as Langney gifted them an equaliser. Trickett tapped home after Daubney spilled a seemingly routine cross and the Langney goalkeeper was immediately substituted with a nasty-looking hand injury.
Langney defender Marcus Allen took over the gloves, but Common rarely tested him on a night when they lacked creativity and failed to reproduce the sort of form which had brought them five victories in their previous six cup matches this term.
Wayne Wilkinson hit Common’s post with a terrific effort with the outside of the boot following a fine ball from Mark Warren, while at the other end, Lewis Hole had the ball in the net following a Trickett pass but the offside flag had already been raised.
Cruttwell saved well from Sam Bunn and Rogers headed just wide from a Weatherby cross as Langney seemed to gain the upper hand early in the second half. Moments later at the other end, Trickett’s cross from the left struck the crossbar.
Trickett headed just over from an Eldridge free kick and although Wilkinson drove just over for Langney, Common came back into the game during the final half-hour of normal time. Hole had a glorious opportunity to put Common ahead, but could only hit the post after Allen miskicked a cross which he ought to have caught.
Langney got back on top in extra-time, and Weatherby fired just over and a Wilkinson effort was pushed aside by Cruttwell before the visitors retook the lead in the 103rd minute. Cruttwell came for a Wilkinson cross, but Rogers beat him to it and headed into the net.
Common substitute Martin Denny was thwarted by Allen following a lovely touch from Hole, while Cruttwell made a good stop with his body from Wilkinson and Gianluca Del-Gaudio drilled just over the home crossbar.
A Common equaliser wasn’t looking particularly likely, but they got one in the 112th minute. Eldridge, who had by now pushed forward into midfield, had a go from around 30 yards and the ball rather slid through Allen’s fingers above his head.
With no further scoring, the tie went to penalties. It was a scenario which didn’t suit Common given their dreadful penalty record in regulation play since the start of last season and the spot-kicks which followed hinted at some mental scarring from their many penalty misses over that period.
Ricky Mote and Eldridge scored Common’s first and fourth kicks, but Trickett hit the crossbar with the second, and Ammoun and Zack McEniry had weak efforts saved with the third and fifth. Bunn, Steve Hickman and Catt converted Langney’s second, fourth and fifth attempts, while Cruttwell saved the first and third from Rogers and Wilkinson.
Common: Cruttwell, R. Mote, Estherby (Lusted 102), Brown (McEniry 106), Ammoun, Eldridge, Trickett, Holden, Hole, Crone, Foster (Denny 95). Sub not used: Wells.
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