Little Common won 1-0 at home to Bexhill United in an Easter Monday football derby which was overshadowed by a serious injury.
Common player-manager Russell Eldridge scored the only goal of the Sussex County Football League Division Two game with a delightful 40th minute free kick, but his team-mate Adam Smith later suffered a suspected broken leg.
Pacey young attacking player Smith was caught just outside the box by a lunging tackle from Bexhill goalkeeper Russell Tanner as he latched onto an Eldridge throughball in the 60th minute. Tanner was sent-off and is expected to be suspended for the Division Two Challenge Cup final on Monday May 5.
Nearby players instantly recognised the severity of the injury and an ambulance was called. The ambulance arrived just over half-an-hour later and the game was held up for virtually an hour before Common went on to complete their sixth successive victory.
Common made a good start against a Bexhill side which could muster just one substitute in the absence of a few key players. Lewis Hole latched onto Zack McEniry’s header through the middle in the first two minutes, but couldn’t make proper contact with his shot and Tanner saved.
There was controversy three minutes later as Common thought they had taken the lead only to have their celebrations cut short after their goal was belatedly disallowed for offside.
Referee’s assistant Ken Brook kept his flag down as Steve Morris ran through and slotted past Tanner, believing the ball reached Morris off a Bexhill player. A discussion between Brook and referee Irvine Woodward followed and Woodward felt the ball had come off a Common player so Morris was ruled offside.
Tanner made a good save with his feet to deny Hole following a lovely touch by Morris. The game then became something of a stalemate until dead ball specialist Eldridge picked out the top left-hand corner with the aforementioned free kick from 30 yards.
James Vaughan forced Tanner into a diving save with a long range effort of his own a minute later and Hole volleyed just wide from the resulting corner. Into the second half and Common had a second goal chalked off for offside - this time immediately - after Smith lifted a lovely finish over Tanner.
Smith then suffered that terrible injury and the game was predictably low key thereafter. Hole fired wide of the near post and couldn’t turn home Anthony Cooper’s drive across goal. In between times, Common substitute Martin Denny rounded stand-in Bexhill goalkeeper Jamie Salvidge and flashed a shot across the face.
Common did have one or two nervy moments at the back in the closing stages, notably when a speculative long range effort by Bexhill midfielder Kasey Smith dropped onto the roof of the net, but Dom Bristow headed against the post at the other end from Hole’s left wing cross.
Common: Saunders, Cooper, Mote, Eldridge, McEniry, J. Smith, Vaughan, Brown (Bristow), Hole, Morris (Denny), A. Smith (Lusted). Subs not used: Elliott-Noye, Richardson.
Bexhill: Tanner, Tudor, Burton, Histed, D. Stevens, Earley, Salvidge, K. Smith, Cooper, Shelton, Turner (Macdonald).