Monday, 20 August 2012

Little Common 2 v 2 Midhurst and Easebourne

Saturday 18th August 2012
Sussex County League Division Two
Recreation Ground, Little Common
Admission and programme: £4.00
Attendance: 97
Match Rating: 4

Having spent most of the week beforehand planning to take in the first competitive game at Maidstone United’s new stadium or to pay a visit to Tunbridge Wells to take advantage of their offer of free admission to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of their Culverden Stadium, right at the last minute I decided on a visit to the south coast which fitted in best with my plans that evening. A visit to Little Common would be a revisit for me, although the only time I previously visited was over six years ago during their days in intermediate football


The Recreation Ground is about a twenty minute walk from Cooden Beach rail station, and has seen some modest improvements since I last visited, in order to retain their status in senior football. The ground is part of a large recreation area, with a modern brick clubhouse separating a cricket pitch that one passes on entering the complex after the car park and the football pitch further on. To the left of the pitches are housing, whilst to the right of and beyond the pitches is quite a large expanse of playing fields, with trees lining the top of a slight incline. On my last visit to the ground, there was a small prefab metallic stand for standing room only behind the goal where the clubhouse is situated. This has now been joined by an almost identical structure but housing 50 seats alongside it, placed immediately adjacent to the goal. This stand as well as floodlights have been installed in the last few months. The pitch is “enclosed” by green see-through sheeting, and as this is fairly loosely attached to the railings, means that the areas along one length and behind one of the goals is inaccessible. The programme, included with admission, was a good effort although not as good as I remember it being on my last visit. It contained six pages of articles inside a six page advertising shell.

It was only confirmed that Little Common would play this season in senior football in June, after some fairly farcical decisions and appeals regarding the constitution of the Sussex League, and they only narrowly avoided being in a relegation place on playing merit last season, finishing third bottom. They have certainly started this season well though, winning their opening game of the season 0-4 at Wick. Midhurst and Easebourne, also seemingly eternally threatened with relegation to intermediate football by both league placings and their very basic facilities which lack floodlights in recent seasons, opened their season with a 1-1 draw at Saltdean United. Last season they finished one place above Little Common, having conceded a whopping 102 goals from 34 games.

On a blisteringly hot afternoon, with blue skies and temperatures nudging 30c, the game certainly had a blistering start, when the visitors opened the scoring with barely a minute on the clock, when some tentative defending allowed Oliver Pearce to stride forward before placing a rocket of a shot past the keeper. On 18 minutes the game was delayed for around five minutes when the referee ordered that some dog mess was removed from the pitch, before Midhurst doubled their advantage on 28 minutes, when the keeper seemed to be favourite to claim a cross into the box from wide, but somehow Pearce headed home for his second of the match. By the time half time arrived, Midhurst will have wondered how they hadn’t scored four or give to put this game to bed, so dominant they were, so limited Little Common were, and it really was a wonder, on the evidence so far, how Little Common had won so convincingly at Wick last week.

In the second half, Little Common played much better although they rarely looked capable of getting back into the game, and ten minutes from time, Midhurst had yet another chance to seal the three points when a shot was screwed horribly wide from close range. They were made to pay for their profligacy when seven minutes from time, Jared Lusted hit a beautiful shot on the turn from just outside the area which went over the keeper and into the net. On 89 minutes, the home side equalised, when a perfectly judged whipped in cross was nodded home just before it reached the keeper. This was devastating blow to the visitors, who seemed to lose their discipline slightly after the equaliser, and they could easily have ended up losing the game, when deep into injury time, Little Common hit the post and then had a shot deflected wide, although the passage in play was separated by a wonderful last ditch tackle denying a Midhurst goal. But in the end, honours were even after a very entertaining game of football, and credit to both teams for that playing in such hot conditions.

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