Crowborough Athletic 2-0 Little Common - I really believe in this side can be better, says Crowborough Athletic boss Sean Muggeridge

Tuesday 18th October 2022
Crowborough Athletic 2 – 0 Little Common
Location Crowborough Community Stadium, Fermor Road, Crowborough, East Sussex TN6 3BU
Kickoff 18/10/2022 19:45

Southern Combination League Premier Division
Tuesday 18 October 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Alderbrook

CROWBOROUGH ATHLETIC manager Sean Muggeridge says he believes his side can be better after climbing up to ninth-place in the Southern Combination League Premier Division following a frustrating win over Little Common.

Harvey Killick capped off an impressive night down the right-wing by scoring a screamer into the top far corner before putting in a great cross for left-winger Lucas Murrain to volley in his sixth goal of the season.

The Bexhill-on-Sea based visitors’ had substitute striker James Crone sent off for violent conduct in the 73rd minute, just six minutes after replacing eight-goal striker Lewis Hole.

“It was a little bit frustrating in the first half,” said Muggeridge, “I think we had four or five, maybe six good chances in good areas and we didn’t put them away.

“I think we had two or three one-on-ones with the keeper that we didn’t put away and you always wonder if they’re going to get one up the other end.

“The whole game was frustrating but we got the result that we had to get.”

Crowborough Athletic’s seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions came to an end at the weekend after losing 3-2 at home to Hassocks but they bounced back against Russell Eldridge’s men, who came away from Alfold with a 5-1 win at the weekend.

Crowborough Athletic won the corner count by 9-2 and they created a half-chance following their fourth corner inside the opening nine minutes.

Harry Forster swung the ball in from the right with his right-foot and Killick flicked the ball on but Crowborough resident and captain Tom Boddy flicked his header past the near post.

Crowborough Athletic lined up outside their penalty area for Eldridge’s free-kick and half-cleared the ball out to Lewis Parsons but the centre-half sliced his first-time left-footed shot harmlessly wide of the right-hand post from 20-yards.

Sam Cruttwell then tried to score from a free-kick just outside the corner of the Crowborough Athletic penalty area but goalkeeper Cameron Hall made a comfortable save in his midriff in the centre of his goal inside the opening 13 minutes.

Crowborough Athletic then started to pepper Matthew Cruttwell’s goal with pops at goal with the impressive Killick giving Little Common’s left-back Louis Walker a torrid time.

The home side hit their opponents on the counter-attack with Murrain playing the ball inside to striker Joao Andrade, who pinged the ball out to Killick, who cut in from the right and his shot trickled past the advancing goalkeeper Matthew Cruttwell before the weak shot was cleared away by Parsons before it crossed the goal line.

Muggeridge said: “I think Harvey was waiting for the clatter from the goalkeeper because I think he could’ve taken it around him.

“Harvey was causing a threat all night. He hasn’t come to me as a winger but he was with me originally as a right-back and a centre-back but he’s played in midfield for us and now we’ve got him on the wing because I know his quality in his crossing and his speed and his awareness and on another day he might’ve had a hat-trick today.”

Just 31 seconds later, Murrain cut in from the opposite flank and tried to curl his shot into the far corner but the ball failed to nestle into the back of the net.

Crowborough Athletic missed a gilt-edged chance shortly afterwards.

Hall launched a big kick up field and released Andrade through on goal but the striker lacked composure as keeper Matthew Cruttwell came off his line and stabbed his shot straight at the Little Common captain.

A frustrated Muggeridge said: “I had a word with Tiago and he said he tried to nut-meg him, tried to put it through his legs so it was a horrible one really because it was bouncing and if it bounced a bit higher he might’ve lobbed him but I think it went away from him.  It was another good chance and we could’ve sealed it up first half really.”

A dominant Crowborough Athletic linked up well in midfield with Andrade, holding midfielder John Sinclair and central midfielder Forster, who released Killick with a diagonal pass but the visiting keeper got down low to his right to push the ball towards safety.

Little Common were a threat down the right in the first half through Freddie Warren, while central midfielder Jamie Bunn was keen to make untracked runs through the heart of the pitch towards the number 10 position behind a very quiet Hole, who didn’t get much change out of Boddy and his central defensive partner, Harrison Mayhew.

Sam Cruttwell clipped a free-kick into the box where the impressive Bunn steered his free header over the crossbar from 15-yards.

“The four (Bunn) and 10 (Warren) were their best players.  I know Sam Cruttwell from Hastings but he didn’t cause us trouble, those two did,” claimed Muggeridge.

“Little Common didn’t really have a lot, but they did have a lot of possession in midfield and their 10 was a threat. It didn’t turn into anything, so that’s good defending on our part.”

Crowborough Athletic deservedly took the lead with 35 minutes and 28 seconds on the clock, through a sublime finish from Killick.

Forster drove straight down the heart of the pitch before rolling the ball out to Killick on the right, who easily cut inside a poor Walker before drilling a left-footed drive into the top far corner from 25-yards.

“Unbelievable! All those chances we had, it took a worldy to break the deadlock,” said Muggeridge.

“He seems to do that on his left-foot. He done it a couple of weeks ago against Midhurst I think it was. He can play on the left, his left foot is just as good as his right so that’s good for a winger to have that.

“We could’ve been three-nil up at that time. We could’ve been 4-0 up at half-time.  It’s strange isn’t it, all those simple chances and then we put one in the top corner!”

Little Common created a chance from open play in the 44th minute when Archie Warmington, recalled into the side and playing behind Hole in the number 10 role, played a 10-yard pass in behind Crowborough Athletic’s left-back Reece Anderson, for Warren to put in a cross for Hole to head a poor header into the ground and bouncing past the left-hand post.

“Lewis Hole is a quality player, a good player. He’s well known in this level, in the Sussex League,” added the Crowborough Athletic boss.

“I think personally Tom Boddy did well to put him off for the header.  I think he might’ve scored if he wasn’t challenged but I think Bods just did enough and he flicked it wide. 

“If you restrict teams like that to two chances in the first half, you should really be winning the game.”

Muggeridge revealed: “I was very, very frustrated but the thing is what I said to them in there is that you’ve got to be patient. It’s hard to have a go at them at half-time because you’re 1-0 up at half-time.

“I really believe in this side can be better and I believe they could’ve done better in that first half, We just had to be clinical really.  We’re in wide areas and we need to be better. We do a lot of it in training and we ask our players to get in the box and make the right runs.”

Warmington won the away side a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area but Bunn drove the resulting free-kick into the wall and the ball was heading wide by the time Hall caught the ball under no pressure.

Crowborough Athletic sealed the deal by scoring their second goal of the game with a well-worked goal, six minutes and 5 seconds into the second half.

Sinclair was some 35 yards from goal and he played the ball out to Killick, who took a touch and whipped in a great cross with his right-foot from close to the right by-line towards the near post where Murrain got across his man and flicked his first time volley across the keeper into the far corner from six-yards.

“Lucas has been out injured, I think he’s still not 100% fit. I think he’s got a couple of niggling injuries,” revealed Muggeridge.

“We had to put him out wide since Tiago’s Andrade come in because we need someone to hold it up and he’s done just as good there.

“He’s scored goals, he’s coming in from that left and he’s a natural striker anyway and those sort of balls that come in are bread and butter really.

“Strikers like that they thrive on quality balls and that was an absolute pearler of a ball so I do praise the goalkeeper Lucas but I praise the ball from Harvey, it was different gravy.”

Hall maintained his clean-sheet by getting down low to his right to ensure Hole’s shot on the turn didn’t nestle inside the bottom far corner during a brief spell on the front foot for Little Common.

Sinclair swept the ball into Ollie Hyland, who held the ball on the edge of the Little Common penalty area before playing a one-two with Sinclair before drilling a deflected low drive into the base of the side netting on the hour-mark.

Muggeridge said: “What were my two central midfielders doing in the box? That’s what I want to know!

“It was a great move.  Ollie has been good for us this year. He’s scored four goals this year.”

The impressive Bunn pinged a diagonal pass from the centre out to Warren on the right and he hung over a deep cross which should have been finished off by Little Common.

Substitute left-winger Adam Smith got in behind Crowborough’s right-back Jack Mayhew to hit a half-volley into the ground from a tight angle, only for the ball to bounce off Hole and loop over the crossbar.

“We did switch off a little bit,” admitted Muggeridge.

“They’re going to have their moments because they didn’t have anything in the first half.  They didn’t finish it, the same as we didn’t in the first half. 

“If that had gone in, I think we still would’ve won the game but I think it was going to be squeaky bum time.

“We put so much effort into the first half and only got one goal and second half we had a couple of chances to go two-nil up, three-nil up and we didn’t.”

Little Common’s chances of grabbing a draw evaporated when Crone was shown a red-card for violent conduct with 27:49 on the clock.

Crone was seen kicking out at Harrison Mayhew off the ball close to the edge of the centre-circle and after having a word with senior assistant referee Ian Moore, referee Mark Gidman had no option than to pull out a red card and the striker can expect a three-match ban.

“Very crazy but I’m not (former Arsenal manager) Arsene Wenger but I didn’t see it.  I didn’t see the actual incident so the reaction of our players was the guy kicked him.  Maybe Harrison fouled him and got a yellow and that was way the free-kick (to Little Common) was given so I can only assume that’s what happened,” said Muggeridge.

When asked why his side failed to punish their opponents, Muggeridge replied: “It was all about just getting the right result.  We had a bad result on Saturday, two own goals and a penalty and it was a bit of a poor game for us, a game we should’ve won really, again.

“I don’t like playing against 10 men because they always seem to put more effort in and we defiantly relaxed and didn’t do the things we were doing so well.  We’ll have to learn to be better in that department.”

Muggeridge used up all of his five substitutes and was asked why Killick was replaced with 15 minutes of normal time remaining.

“In football, as a manager, you do have to take a little bit of a gamble.  I believe in Harry Brown who came on but I also believe we’ve got quite a massive game for the club on Saturday (FA Vase First Round tie against Eversley & California).

“Harvey put such a shift in, I just think we don’t want him pulling anything.  I think the game was safe but I know the game can bite you on the bum but I do believe if you don’t play these players on the pitch as well, you need these players.

“Harry Brown and all that played last Tuesday in the Sussex Cup (1-0 home win over Hailsham Town) to give them game time and if you’ve got 16 players which we did have, they’ve all had game time this year, then it’s not a gamble to bring Harry Brown on for Harvey Killick because you’ve got a similar kind of player.”

However, Crowborough Athletic failed to make their numerical advantage count, creating just the one further chance with nine minutes remaining.

Hyland clipped a left-footed ball into the left-channel from midfield to release Murrain, who cut into the box and curled a right-footed shot towards the far corner from 16-yards, only to be denied by the diving keeper, who palmed the ball away diving to his left.

Muggeridge said: “It was a good save that.  Lucas can put them in the top corner from that area but I think it was a good save, it wasn’t a miss.”

Little Common’s central-midfielder Sam Cruttwell went close with a drilled left-footed free-kick from 35-yards, which only just cleared the crossbar at the end.

Ninth in the table with 22 points from 13 games, the Crows are six points adrift of leaders Steyning Town tonight but all attention now turns to Saturday’s FA Vase First Round home tie against Hampshire based opposition.

Eversley & California arrive in East Sussex sitting in ninth-place in the Combined Counties League Division One table, with five wins, a draw and five defeats, scoring 24 and leaking 33 goals.

“We’re ninth in the table, we’ve drawn too many games. I don’t think in any of those draws where I can actually say we certainly didn’t deserve to lose any of those games but I think we could’ve won a couple more and we would be right in the mix.

“It’s a young side, it’s a new side. We lost eight or nine players last year and we’ve got eight or nine new players this yeas so it’s going to take a little bit of time but I think the amount of chances we are creating, it’s very, very pleasing.

“Even though we’re not putting them away at the moment, if we can put them into goals then we’re very decent this year.

“I would’ve been happy (with our league position) at the beginning of the season because it’s a new side.  The games we’ve drawn has cost us a little but so I think we should really be in the top four but it’s a strong league, it’s like anything, you’ve got to earn your points.”

Muggeridge, meanwhile, wouldn’t be drawn into which goalkeeper he will be selecting for Saturday’s FA Vase tie.

Hall has made 10 appearances in the league and one in the cup this season, while five of Martin Grant’s eight appearances have come in cup games.

“I don’t know if they watched us tonight but I don’t know who is going to go in goal on Saturday.  Obviously, I have to consider all things  I’m not too sure who is going to be in goal,” added Muggeridge.

Crowborough Athletic: Cameron Hall, Jack Mayhew, Reece Anderson, John Sinclair, Harrison Mayhew (William Puffette 90), Tom Boddy, Lucas Murrain (Harry London 89), Ollie Hyland, Joao Andrade (Morgan Vale 69), Harry Forster (Dominic Welsh 82), Harvey Killick (Harry Brown 75).

Goals: Harvey Killick 36, Lucas Murrain 52

Booked: Harry Forster 39, Harrison Mayhew 74

Little Common: Matthew Cruttwell, Oscar Barry, Louis Walker (James Miriam-Batchelor 90), Jamie Bunn, Lewis Parsons, Russell Eldridge, Sam Ellis, Sam Cruttwell, Lewis Hole (James Crone 67), Archie Warmington (Adam Smith 52), Freddie Warren.
Subs: Ben O’Donoghue, Paul Feakins

Sent Off: James Crone 73

Attendance: 127
Referee: Mr Mark Gidman
Assistants: Mr Ian Moore & Mr Alex Howard