Common triumph in derby thriller

Little Common and Bexhill United get to grips with each other during a thrilling local derby at the Recreation Ground yesterday. Picture courtesy Paul Field
Little Common and Bexhill United get to grips with each other during a thrilling local derby at the Recreation Ground yesterday. Picture courtesy Paul Field

Little Common’s footballers won 4-3 at home to crosstown rivals Bexhill United in a thrilling local derby yesterday (Saturday).

A late winner from Lewis Hole gave Common their first victory of the season in a Macron Store Sussex County Football League Peter Bentley League Cup first tie against a Bexhill side playing its first competitive game under new boss Marc Munday.

Bexhill, playing their first fixture of the season, fielded four players who had turned out for Common last season, while Common player-manager Russell Eldridge made four changes to his starting line-up with Hole, Paul Feakins, Jake Sherwood and Jack Woodward coming into the team.

On a perfect afternoon for football and on a pitch superbly prepared by Common groundsman Chris Eldridge, it was the visitors who opened the scoring through Linton Rogers in the sixth minute after the Common defence had attempted to play the forward offside.

The Commoners looked more potent in attack with the return of Hole and the hard working Steve Morris complimenting each other well, and it was the latter who went closest to an equaliser but saw his fierce drive blocked by a Bexhill defender.

Eldridge had a free kick claimed by visiting goalkeeper Yarni Camara before Common found themselves level in the 19th minute when 17-year-old Feakins picked up the ball on the edge of the area and calmly drove a shot into the far corner of the net.

Both teams looked capable of scoring in an end-to-end encounter. A long range Bexhill effort looped over Matt Cruttwell and hit the post before Josh Elliott-Noye had a goal ruled out for offside.

It was the Commoners, however, who struck next to take a 2-1 lead. A quick free kick from Zack McEniry released Hole, who took one touch before slotting into the bottom corner four minutes before the interval.

The visitors began the second half the brighter and they were soon on level terms when Dan Hill struck an unstoppable effort from the edge of the area which went in off the post.

The match continued to swing from one end to the other. Hole went closest to equalising, but his effort was saved by the feet of Camara before Morris once again had a shot blocked.

Bexhill went back in front in the 60th minute when a delivery into the box caused confusion at the back post and Sherwood was adjudged to have fouled, leaving Hill to stroke in the resultant penalty.

The Commoners stuck to their task and continued to press for an equaliser, twice seeing efforts blocked, while Bexhill continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack.

Common’s equaliser arrived 10 minutes from time when a delivery into the box was handled by Hill, leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Eldridge uncharacteristically saw his penalty saved as Camara dived low to his right, but Woodward scored direct from the ensuing corner to level the scores once again.

With extra-time looking a real possibility, it was the Commoners who grabbed victory at the death. The ever-impressive Cruttwell launched a quick attack by finding Hole, who made no mistake by rolling the ball past Camara to set up a second round tie against Westfield.