Southern Combination League Division One
The Oval, Eastbourne
Match Rating: 3
With milder evenings now upon us, I decided to take in some midweek action tonight, to watch Little Common for the second time in three days, and the second time I have watched them at The Oval this season, although on the previous occasion the home team was Eastbourne United Association.
Approaching the end of their first season following promotion into senior football, their home ground at Shinewater Lane still lacks floodlights, and so their floodlit midweek matches are currently taking place at the home of Eastbourne United Association. I took the opportunity to stop off at Shinewater Lane before heading to The Oval, and the ground remains extremely basic, and would be more suitable for intermediate football – the only recent addition being a small metal stand covering a flat standing area located in one corner. But there is still no seating, little hard standing available, the ground remains open – in short, looks anything but a senior football venue, and Westfield and Rustington, relegated from this division last season, can surely continue to feel very aggrieved that at being relegated at the end of last season for having grounds no worse than Shinewater Lane. With regards to The Oval, some ground improvements are taking place to what was already a very decent ground. An atcost all-seater stand, previously installed at Sidley United's Gullivers ground before the club was forced to leave, has been temporarily positioned in one corner out of use before it is soon transfered, with seats added, to a new location beside the dugouts.
Both of this evening's teams are heading for mid table finishes. Langney Wanderers came into this game in 12th place, with eight wins and four draws from their 22 games, but having at least three games in hand on every other team in the division means a top ten finish is quite achievable in their first season in senior football. After their derby day victory against Bexhill United, Little Common were in seventh place, with 12 wins and two draws from their 25 games. In the reverse league fixture played last Tuesday, Little Common won 3-2, whilst in the divisional cup, Langney Wanderers won on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
On an evening which soon became cool by nightfall, the first half was a closely fought affair, with Little Common having slightly the better of things and having the clearer sights on goal. But five minutes before half time, the home side were awarded a rather soft penalty, as the Langney player went down under pressure from a defender running towards goal. Paul Rogers fired the ball into the bottom right corner despite the keeper getting a hand to the ball. Straight from the kick off, Jamie Crone fired a shot on the move from the edge of the area but the ball flashed just wide of the left hand post and Langney Wanderers held the slender lead at the break.
Langney Wanderers started the second half the stronger, and they soon seized control of the match. They doubled their lead on 57 minutes when the ball rolled into the path of Shane Saunders in a central position on the edge of the box, and he drilled the ball into the bottom left corner of the net. They all but sealed the win on 69 minutes. A weak back header by a Little Common defender gave a chance to the onrushing striker to beat the keeper to the ball, but the keeper managed to smother the ball away. From the rebound, a shot from an angle on the turn hit the post, but then after the ball was cross into the box from the right wing, Saunders headed in from close range. Lewis Hole gave the visitors a glimmer of hope with a nice finish hooked over the keeper and into the net, but they rarely threatened for the remainder of the match as it became a little scrappy with some rather crude fouls, and in the end Langney Wanderers deserved their win for a commanding second half performance.