A late Wes Tate winner saw 10-man Little Common Football Club return to winning ways with a hard-fought 3-2 victory at home to Southwick yesterday (Saturday).
The Commoners squandered a two-goal lead in a Macron Store Southern Combination League Division One top versus bottom encounter before grabbing an 83rd minute winner.
The result doubled their advantage over second-placed Langney Wanderers to four points because their Eastbourne-based pursuers were held to a draw away to fourth-placed Lingfield.
Common welcomed back Ryan Paul, Harry Saville and Louis Walker to their squad, but were still missing leading scorer Lewis Hole. Southwick arrived at The Oval with their third new manager of the season following the appointment of Justin Gregory.
The Commoners began the match on the front foot and dictated the opening quarter. Jamie Crone thought he had given the hosts an early lead, but the offside flag ruled out his fourth minute effort.
Common continued to press and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 11th minute. Tate’s throughball found Crone, who slotted past the visiting goalkeeper.
Tate fired over the crossbar following good work from Crone before Lewis Parsons doubled Common’s advantage with a sublime volley into the top corner from a Tate corner in the 15th minute.
Common were firmly in control before a sloppy five-minute spell saw the visitors halve their deficit and the Commoners reduced to 10 men.
Slack passing in the Common defence allowed Sam Blundell to seize the ball and drive into the area before being upended by goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell. The same player slotted home the resultant penalty to make it 2-1.
Moments later Paul received his second yellow card in a matter of minutes when he was adjudged to have kicked out following a foul on the Southwick left-back.
Common reshuffled and saw out the remainder of the first half without too many scares.
The second half began with the Commoners pushing for a third goal. Tate’s free kick eluded everyone as it fizzed across the six yard box and a deflected Russell Eldridge free kick crashed against the crossbar.
However, it was the Wickers who struck next on the hour. The lively Blundell turned and struck a shot across Cruttwell into the corner of the net to make it 2-2.
The Commoners went in search of a third goal, and a neat move involving Paul Feakins, Tate and Crone saw Liam Ward released in the area but his first time effort cleared the crossbar.
Crone had a shot blocked as he bore down on goal before Sam Ellis’s snap shot from the edge of the area had the goalkeeper rooted to the spot.
With a draw now looking the most likely outcome, Tate popped up with the winner when he drove into the area and beat the visiting goalkeeper at his near post, giving Common another priceless win.
Common: Cruttwell, Paul, Parsons, Ward (Winter), Maynard, Eldridge, Feakins, Tate, Crone, Ellis (Walker), Smith (Saville).
Southern Combination League Division One top half (played-points): 1 LITTLE COMMON 23-58 (+53 goal difference), 2 Langney Wanderers 23-54 (+40), 3 Wick 22-44 (+32), 4 Lingfield 21-43 (+34), 5 Mile Oak 22-41 (+15), 6 BEXHILL UNITED 23-40 (+20), 7 Selsey 21-37 (+14), 8 Ringmer 23-36 (+11), 9 Steyning Town 23-31 (+15).