Friday, 3 May 2013

Little Common 1 v 1 Oakwood

Tuesday 30th April 2013
Sussex County League Division Two
Recreation Ground, Little Common
Admission including programme: £4.00
Attendance: 76
Match Rating: 3

Disappointingly, silly season style groundhopping opportunities were thin on the ground this midweek, so for tonight I chose to go to a ground that, although would be my third revisit and second of the season, would host a match with much riding on it in this, the final week of the Sussex County League season.

The ground has unsurprisingly not changed since my last visit in August, and the programme still followed the same format and level of content as then.

Coming into this game, Little Common were favourites to claim the third and final promotion place to the Sussex County League Division One, with a slight chance of claiming the runners up position. They were in fourth place in the division, a point behind third placed Eastbourne United and six points behind second placed Newhaven but with much better goal difference and a game in hand on both, all three clubs playing their final game on Saturday. Little Common have been in great form recently, winning their last four games and losing only once (to Champions elect Littlehampton) in their last eight games. Based on league position, tonight’s visitors Oakwood appear in grave danger of relegation to Division Three intermediate football, but ground gradings and other off-the-field issues will almost certainly mean they shall remain in Division Two no matter what their final league placing is. They were third bottom, a point ahead of Rustington (who will almost certainly be relegated due to ground grading) and one point behind fourth bottom Southwick.

After a pleasantly sunny afternoon, this was a very chilly evening with a biting wind, and the game did not go according to the form book at all, as it was difficult to see who was near the top of the table and who was near the bottom. Little Common struggled to impose themselves on the game as Oakwood looked slightly the better side and certainly had the better chances to open the scoring in the first half, forcing the Little Common keeper into a fine double save and later hitting the crossbar. They took a lead that they just about deserved with virtually the last kick of the first half when a corner wasn’t cleared and the ball fell to Alfred Hammond who hit his shot into the ground and bounced into the corner of the net.

So an unexpected score line at halftime, and this did seem to wake Little Common up slightly for the second half, as they became the dominant side in the second half with more pressure on Oakwood’s goal, but they seemed to run out of ideas around the penalty area and their game seemed to be mainly restricted to quick long balls forward – which was perhaps sensible on a very bobbly pitch. Little Common hit the bar before, in the 75th minute, they got back on level terms when the ball was played across the penalty area before Chris Cumming-Bart struck the ball low past the keeper. Little Common had half chances to win it after that, but a point apiece was a fair reflection on the game. That was sufficient to lift Little Common above Eastbourne United into third place to mean that if they manage to beat Littlehampton Town on Saturday, they will be assured of a third placed finish. Oakwood drew level with Southwick after this point, but have an inferior goal difference.

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