Little Common Football Club succumbed to a second successive 5-1 defeat yesterday (Saturday).
The Commoners endured a difficult afternoon at Southern Combination League Premier Division leaders Chichester City, but they remain two points above the two relegation spots.
Common were without their central defensive pairing of Lewis Parsons and Ryan Alexander so player-manager Russell Eldridge moved into the back four, with Adam Smith and Sam Ellis coming into the starting XI.
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In atrocious conditions, the Commoners kicked against the strong wind in the first half and made the worst possible start by conceding two goals in the opening six minutes.
The first came from the head of Scott Jones following a corner and the same player doubled Chichester’s advantage two minutes later, beating the Common offside trap and rounding goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell to slot into the net.
The Commoners did settle after the initial setback and Wes Tate saw a volley from the edge of the area drop the wrong side of the post before Jamie Crone’s cut-back was unable to find Lewis Hole following good work down the right.
The home side continued to look dangerous and had the ball in the net again after half-an-hour, but the close range finish was ruled out for offside.
Chichester saw a free kick clear the crossbar before adding a third on the stroke of half time when Josh Clack cut into the area before drilling his shot past Cruttwell at his near post.
Kicking with the wind in the second half, the Commoners made a bright start and reduced their deficit almost immediately. Adam Smith was the first to react in the area following a neat move, slotting the ball past the motionless home goalkeeper from six yards.
Common continued to press for a second, but were cruelly punished for a refereeing error when the hosts controversially added a fourth goal after an hour.
Dan Ryan’s ball down the line ballooned out of play before coming back onto the pitch. As the Common players retrieved the ball for the Chichester throw-in, the referee allowed the hosts to grab a spare ball and take the throw quickly despite there being two balls on the pitch.
The ball fell to the feet of Jones, who curled a sublime effort into the top corner of the net for his hat-trick - much to the despair of the Common players who protested to the referee.
The hosts should have added a fifth when Clack raced through on goal, but Cruttwell denied him with his legs.
The Commoners thought they had pulled one back when Lewis Hole bundled the ball home after Eldridge’s free kick was fumbled, but the assistant’s flag came to the rescue of the City goalkeeper.
The hosts completed the scoring in the dying minutes when a ball across the area hit the unfortunate Ollie Weeks before trickling over the line as he attempted to clear the danger.
Common: Cruttwell, Weeks, Feakins, Ward, Paul, Eldridge, Smith, Tate, Hole, Crone (Ryan), Ellis.
Southern Combination League Premier Division bottom six (played-points): 15 Langney Wanderers 32-33 (-26 goal difference), 16 Loxwood 32-27 (-28), 17 LITTLE COMMON 32-23 (-33), 18 Shoreham 32-21 (-43), 19 Eastbourne United AFC 31-21 (-44), 20 Arundel 32-21 (-45).