Little Common 2 Hassocks 2 - SCFL premier - report by Scott McCarthy
For the first time in over four years, Little Common played a league game at their Recreation Ground. Hassocks were not the most obliging of party guests, twice coming from behind to secure a 2-2 draw and deny the Green Lane Boys a win on their long-awaited homecoming.
The last time Common had taken to their own patch for Southern Combination action was April 2017, spending nearly half-a-decade ground sharing 12 miles away at Eastbourne United’s Oval due to the Recreation Ground not having the required grading to host Premier Division football.
An intrigued crowd of 184 turned out to check out the improved facilities - including two new stands - delivered thanks to the hard work of everyone behind the scenes at Common. Those in attendance were suitably impressed by both the upgrades and the football, an entertaining 90 minutes that ebbed and flowed.
Common were determined to give their fans something to celebrate on their return but Hassocks have developed a mean streak in recent months.
This was undoubtedly a game the Robins would have lost in the autumn; not now though, a run of four wins, four draws and two defeats from their last 10 matches instilling new belief and confidence in Brad Sweetman's team that they can compete with most teams in the league.
Despite having gone through a grueling 120 minutes on a heavy pitch when eliminating Crawley Down Gatwick from the RUR Cup in extra time on Tuesday night, Sweetman limited his changes with only two from the side who saw off the Anvils.
Of those, Charlie Tuck had played all but the opening half hour against Down after replacing Arthur Rawlingson, who had only suitably recovered from his midweek knock to sit on the bench here.
The other change saw the evergreen Phil Gault available for his first start since November at the expense of young Jude Wallis.
Hassocks had expected a strong start from Common and they were duly swamped from the off by the hosts, eventually leading to a 13th minute opener.
Sam Ellis swung over a corner and the Robins’ marking was poor, leaving Common top scorer Lewis Hole to head unmarked past Alex Harris.
Hassocks had to weather more of the storm before they could make an impression on the game, Johnny Walker with a long distance effort nearly as strong as his namesake’s whiskey being followed by a similar drive from Liam Ward which had Harris a little concerned.
The Robins’ first venture into the Common half came when Josh Short worked himself into a decent position, only to drill a low one across the area that was well held by home goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell.
Captain Jack Troak was next to threaten. Alfie Loversidge and James Westlake built an opportunity for Troak to scamper down the left but his shot was just wide of the post.
Hassocks’ first equaliser of the afternoon arrived on 26 minutes. James Westlake did well to get possession to Gault just inside the Common area.
Gault had his back to goal but he turned on a sixpence, curling an effort out of the reach of Cruttwell to nestle in the bottom corner via the upright.
Things tapered off a little after that, hardly a surprise given the breakneck speed that the opening 30 minutes had been played at.
Normal service was however resumed at the start of the second
half when both sides had opportunities to take the lead inside the first seven minutes.
Hassocks were first to go close, Short heading a Loversidge delivery wide. Common were not so wasteful, new signing Freddie Warren capitalising on a mistake in the Robins defence to square across goal for Hole to sidefoot home his second and restore the hosts’ lead.
Common should have added a third almost straight from the restart. They regained possession and headed up field through Sam Ellis. Amazingly, nobody in claret and blue could get on the end of Ellis’ fizzed cross which only needed a touch to send it past Harris.
Hassocks punished that by equalising again with 13 minutes left to play. Short picked up possession in midfield and drove at the Common defence.
As they backed off, the space opened up for him to hit a low drive from 25 yards which found the bottom corner.
Common finished the stronger - hardly a surprise given the tiredness Hassocks must have been feeling following their Tuesday night exertions - but the visitors stayed strong in the face of a number of hopeful balls tossed into the box, Dan Turner heading clear anything that came his way.
There was one late scare when Common might have been awarded a penalty. Half-hearted appeals from home connections told their own story about that, with the draw being the correct outcome in the end.
Selsey 1 Wick 0 - SCFL division one
In their first game of 2022, Selsey clinched the points thanks to a first half strike by Evan Harris.
Boss Daren Pearce said: “It was pleasing to start 2022 with a win, a good performance and with another very young starting 11.
“It was great to see a good-sized crowd backing the lads – this always helps the young players out on the field.
“First half we played well and created chances and pushed for the second after taking the lead.
“We knew second half Wick would come out at us, but we should have doubled our lead early in the second half – Dillon North should have scored when one on one with the keeper. But with good defending and our keeper Syd Davies making a good double save when Wick looked likely to score, we managed to keep a clean sheet and secure the points.
“The lads have worked hard since before the Christmas break and they stuck to the information and game plan we had.
“Our aim is to progress as a club and this will only be obtained if we keep our talented young squad together, not just the starting 11, the whole squad.
“Our under-23s that have come into the first team squad in recently weeks are all important to us.”
Midhurst & Easebourne 2 Oakwood 1 - SCFL division one
Robbie Tambling’s 90th-minute goal sealed an important three points for the Stags.
Stags had the ball in the net in the third minute only for Harry Giles’ header from a corner to be ruled out for a foul on keeper Andrew Greaves.
Stags upped the tempo Jake Slater fired one chance over.
The opener arrived in the 29th minute. Lewis Hamilton played it wide to Will Essai who cut in and delivered a good ball into the area. A defender and keeper Greaves both got something on it on it and the ball looped up and Tambling’s overhead kick went over the keeper and in.
For Oakwood Phil Johnson was denied by Stags keeper Josh Bird.
Stags started the second half quicker and Jordan Warren teed up Tambling who fired over from a tight angle.
Slater and Warren went close then in the 82nd minute Johnson beat Essai, Harry Giles came flying in to bring Johnson down, leaving the referee to award a penalty.
Johnson sent Bird the wrong way.
The winning goal arrived in the 90th minute. Liam Dreckmann played a ball into Harry Tremlett whose header found Tambling and his great touch, turn and finish beat Greaves.
Stags boss Andy Ewen said he was pleased at the way his side responded when Oakwood drew level: “We didn’t panic, we stepped up and created a good chance which Tambo finished brilliantly.
“At this stage of the season it’s just about winning and moving on to the next game and that’s all we’re focused on,
“We have a cup match this weekend as we go to Oakwood.”