Little Common Football Club missed its first chance to clinch the league title as it suffered just a fourth league loss of the season yesterday (Saturday).
A victory at home to Lingfield would have seen Common crowned Macron Store Southern Combination League Division One champions, but their run of nine consecutive league wins was ended by a 2-1 defeat.
Common still have two more games to get the three points they need to secure top spot and even a draw away to second-placed Langney Wanderers next weekend will be enough.
The Commoners went into the match missing full backs Lewis Parsons and Ryan Paul, and their cause was not helped by injuries to Sam Ellis and Jamie Crone within the first 50 minutes.
A reshuffled back four saw Sam Winter join Russell Eldridge at the centre of the defence, with Louis Walker and James Maynard filling the full-back positions. Lee Carey took his place in the Common midfield.
In an even opening, neither goalkeeper was called into action as both teams looked to impose their superiority with play switching from one end to the other.
Common goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell was on hand to deal with a tame Richard Wetton effort, while at the other end, Wes Tate saw an shot blocked as he looked to work some space in the area.
The best opening of the first half came when Tate flicked the ball to Crone, but the visiting goalkeeper advanced well to stop his goalbound strike. With very little goalmouth action, the score remained level at half time.
Common’s second half got off to the worst possible start when Crone, who had scored four goals in the previous three matches, rolled his ankle as he attempted to get a shot off in the area and hobbled off.
Once again there was little goalmouth action, but it was the visitors who got the decisive breakthrough. Common midfielder Liam Ward was adjudged to have pushed a Lingfield player in the area as the ball was lofted in the air and despite guessing the correct way, Cruttwell was unable to keep out the resultant David Heaton penalty.
Common were not at their fluent best and Adam Smith saw an effort squirm wide of the post following a cross from Lewis Hole.
Lingfield extended their lead when the Commoners failed to prevent a ball being delivered into the area and David Graves converted from close range at the near post in the 72nd minute.
The Commoners did grab a consolation in added time when Eldridge curled in a free kick from the edge of the area, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Lingfield becoming the only side in the division Common haven’t beaten this season.
Common: Cruttwell, Maynard, Walker, Ward, Winter, Eldridge, Tate, Carey, Hole, Crone (Bachellier), Ellis (Smith).
Southern Combination League Division One top half (played-points): 1 LITTLE COMMON 32-82 (+73 goal difference), 2 Langney Wanderers 32-78 (+65), 3 Lingfield 31-70 (+57), 4 Ringmer 33-61 (+30), 5 BEXHILL UNITED 32-55 (+22), 6 Mile Oak 32-55 (+15), 7 Wick 31-54 (+29), 8 Hailsham Town 30-45 (+1), 9 Selsey 31-44 (+2).
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