Newhaven beat Little Common 3-1 at Fort Road to record their third win in three games, and move to the top of Sussex County League Division Two. The Dockers are enjoying their time back in senior football and have won their opening three games for the first time in many years.
Dave Altendorff gave Newhaven the best possible start when he nodded in a Richie Watton free-kick. The lead was short lived though as Jared Lusted bobbled a shot over Graham Leach. Lee Robinson restored the hosts advantage when he fired past Jon Saunders before half-time.
After a nervy and tense half an hour, Ryan Walton headed in a Robinson cross to make the game safe in the second half.
Newhaven made two changes to the starting line-up that had beaten Storrington on Saturday afternoon. Dave Altendorff and Scott Edwards came in for Freddie Beale and Louis Brown respectively. With Altendorff coming in to midifeld, Daniel Murray dropped to right back. Ryan Knight moved to left-back with Edwards taking up his usual centre back role.
The game started well for Newhaven, and they won a free-kick in a dangerous position when Robinson was brought down by Ricky Mote. Watton whipped the set-piece in to the near post and Altendorff was on hand to head home past Saunders with just two minutes on the clock.
The goal did little to calm the home side down, in fact it had the opposite effect, as Common pounced on a number of slack Newhaven passes. It was only a matter of time before the visitors found the net.
And they got their equaliser after just eight minutes. Leach, who has often made match winning saves in the Newhaven goal, will not want to remember this one for too long. A corner wasn’t cleared properly by the Newhaven defence and the ball fell to Lusted just outside the box. Lusted’s shot was deflected slightly and bobbled towards the home goal. As Leach got down to make the save the ball bounced over his arm and in to corner of the net.
Common were looking the more dangerous of the two teams. Jamie Crone and Chris Cumming-Bart were stretching the Newhaven defence and causing problems. A couple of good chances went begging for the visitors. Up the other end Knight had a header well saved by Saunders.
Newhaven needed a re-shuffle when Altendorff picked up an injury. Walton replaced the midfielder and came on up-front, with Watton dropping in to an attacking midfield position.
Common continued to apply pressure high up the field, forcing errors and creating half chances. A long clearance forward from the visiting defence nearly ended with a goal but Crone’s finish went over the bar. Leach made a couple of stops to keep out the Common attack.
Newhaven had to compose themselves and managed to regain the lead with 35 minutes played. A Leach goal-kick was flicked on by Watton and then sent in to Robinson’s path by Walton. Robinson was clean through and advanced in to the Common penalty box before sending his shot across Saunders and in to the corner.
Again Common attacked after the goal and could, probably should, of levelled the score for a second time. Murray was at full stretch to clear off the line and then shortly after Lewis Hole somehow contrived to head wide from almost on the goal line.
There was still time for Robinson to go through, in an almost identical position to his goal, but this time he shot straight at Saunders who saved comfortably. 2-1 at half-time.
Newhaven knew they’d have to improve in the second half if they were to hold on to the lead. They seemed to want it more and were working hard as a team to thwart the opposition attack.
Robinson got in to a number of decent positions down the right but his final ball was letting him down. The visitors continued to look for an equaliser but were reduced to long shots. A free-kick from Cumming-Bart drifted narrowly wide.
Newhaven needed the comfort of a third goal and nearly got it when Robinson sent a low cross in for Probert, but the midfielder couldn’t get his feet sorted in time and his attempt was weak.
The third goal did come just moments after though. Sean Breach played a pass to Robinson, who then sent a cross in to the box. Walton rose highest to head in his second goal in as many games. It was an important two-goal cushion with 15 minutes to play.
The Common players were beginnning to get frustrated, at the referee as well as with themselves, and some wild tackles started flying in. Two players picked up bookings.
Newhaven saw out the remaining time, defending resolutely, and held on for the three points that saw them go top of the league.
Graham Leach, Daniel Murray, Ryan Knight, Barry Knight (Louis Brown), Scott Edwards, Sean Breach (c), Dave Altendorff (Ryan Walton), Lee Robinson, Mark Probert, Jason Edwards, Richie Watton.