Thursday, 21 January 2016

Little Common 5 v 1 Arundel

Tuesday 19th September 2015
Recreation Ground, Little Common
Sussex Senior Cup Round Three
Admission including Programme: £4.00
Attendance: 87
Match Rating: 4

A rare midweek game for me was prompted with one of my local senior football clubs hosting higher opposition in the county Cup competition on what promised to be an emotionally charged evening, being the first game since Little Common's founder and chairman, Ken Cherry, passed away.

There have not been any improvements to the Recreation Ground since last season, and the programme, given away with the reasonable admission, remains a good, informative read, with some moving comments regarding the passing of Ken Cherry, including from his grandsons, player-manager Russell Eldridge and club secretary Dan Eldridge.

This would appear to be a tough game for the home side, with Little Common playing in the division below their visitors, but they have had a very good season in Cup competitions, reaching the quarter final in both league cups and beating higher opposition along the way. They were in 6th place in the Southern Combination League Division One, with 29 points from 18 games, and reached this round of the Cup by beating Seaford Town 0-1 away and Oakwood 3-1 at home. Arundel were in 11th place in the Southern Combination League Premier Division, with 30 points from 23 games, and had beaten Storrington 0-1 away and Crawley Down  Gatwick 2-0 at home to reach this round of the Cup.

This fixture was originally scheduled to be played at Arundel, but two postponements caused the fixture to be reversed. It was perhaps fortunate that this game survived tonight, with sub zero temperatures and a frost forming on the pitch ahead of kick off, conditions which claimed most other games in this part of the world this evening. After a minute's silence was observed before the laying of a wreath for under a jacket and scarf placed where Ken Cherry used to watch games from. Arundel may, on paper, have been favourites to win this game, but a combination of poor defending and organisation from them, together with some inventive attacking play from Little Common, saw the visitors concede three goals in the opening 18 minutes. Little Common opened the scoring on 12 minutes when Lewis Hole sprinted clear down the right and crossed low for Jamie Crone, who took a touch before firing the ball into the net. They doubled their lead on 15 minutes. Russell Eldridge played the ball into Crone, who took his time before shooting past the keeper, and the home side opened up a three goal lead on 18 minutes when again they got in behind a static defence, Jared Lusted passing to Hole, who touched the ball first time into the net. So a very surprising start to their game, but Little Common deserved their commanding lead. Arundel gave themselves hope of getting back into the game on 21 minutes. Little Common couldn't clear the ball as Arundel rained in crosses and shots, and eventually Asa Nicholson struck the ball firmly into the roof of the net. The game settled down after that, and 3-1 it remained at half time.

At half time, the game was far from over, particularly if Arundel got another goal back soon after the break, but on 50 minutes, it was Little Common who had a great chance to extend their lead when Lusted was fouled in the area and the referee awarded a penalty. Eldridge sent the keeper the wrong way to restore Little Common's three goal lead, and he celebrated at the spot where the wreath for his grandfather was laid. Arundel then had a couple of sights at goal, hitting the post with one effort, before Little Common made the game safe on 70 minutes when Martin Denny drilled the ball home inside the post. Although Little Common did invite pressure during the remainder of the game as Arundel battle on, they comfortably saw the game out to progress to the next round and a trip to Isthmian League outfit Worthing following a performance and result that would have !made Ken Cherry very proud - the perfect fitting tribute to a man who was Mr Little Common Football Club.

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