A brace of Russell Eldridge goals and one from Nick Richardson enabled Southern Combination League Premier Division side Common to overcome opposition from the Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Common travelled to south London with a severely depleted squad, with no less than six players unavailable, but nonetheless produced a battling performance to come away with the victory.
See also: * Bexhill and Common face FA Vase trips* Common back on track with Bank Holiday drawCommon did welcome back Sam Willett in central defence, with Toby Clifford filling in at right-back and the returning Richardson playing up-front alongside Lewis Hole.
Both teams had opportunities to open the scoring in a fairly open start to the match. Croydon were twice denied by Common goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell, firstly when he palmed an effort to safety and then when he saved smartly with his feet.
Wes Tate saw a goalbound effort blocked at the other end and Hole was only able to find the goalkeeper’s hands with a side-foot shot following a neat pull-back.
Croydon broke the deadlock in the 25th minute when they beat the Common offside trap, allowing their forward to nick the ball past Cruttwell before firing into an empty net.
The Commoners were level three minutes later when a trademark Eldridge free kick clipped the bottom of the post before nestling into the net.
The same player gave Common the lead four minutes later. Having seen his free kick hit the wall, a headed clearance fell kindly to him on the edge of the area and Eldridge’s first time left-foot volley gave the home goalkeeper no chance.
Croydon looked to get back on level terms before the interval and saw an effort clear the crossbar after a good run and cross down the left. On the stroke of half time, Hole saw an effort pushed round the post after making space for a shot in the area.
Common started the second half brightly, keeping possession of the ball and creating openings. Richardson saw an effort blocked and Hole was unable to connect with a Clifford delivery into the area.
Croydon grabbed the next goal, however, when a left wing cross was met by a thunderous header into the roof of the net after an hour.
Common continued to probe and looked the most likely to add their tally as the Common defence dealt comfortably with the threat of the home side.
The winning goal arrived in the 72nd minute. Richardson picked the ball up 30 yards from goal before driving forward and curling an effort into the top corner of the net – a goal worthy of winning any game.
Croydon never really threatened an equaliser and Common could have extended their lead, firstly when Tate raced through but lifted his shot the wrong side of the post and then when Hole saw an effort blocked from the edge of the area.
Common saw out the remaining minutes and will travel to league rivals Newhaven in second round qualifying on Saturday September 15.
Common: Cruttwell, Clifford, Maynard, Ward, Willett, Eldridge, Tate, Penn, Hole, Richardson (Francis), Smith (Saville).
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