By Ryan Newman
Eastbourne Town boss John Lambert said it was a case of ‘job done’ after witnessing his side beat Little Common 0-2 and progress into the quarter-final of the Peter Bentley Challenge Cup.
Town will go to Southern Combination Premier leaders Horsham YMCA for the last eight clash on Tuesday March 27 (Kick off 7.30pm), but Lambert is confident of progressing despite Horsham completing a league double over his side this season.
Should they find a way beyond Horsham, Crawley Down Gatwick await in the semi-final.
“Horsham on Tuesday will be a nice pitch to play on, it always is up there,” said Lambert.
“We went up there earlier in the season and lost 1-0 and they beat us 0-2 at our place but we dominated both games so I think we have a good chance of progressing again if we can right a few wrongs.”
Lambert was especially pleased with the return of Jason Taylor from a long-term injury and with the starting debut of new signing Zach Kieran.
Kieran signed from local rivals Eastbourne United who he was dual registered with from Hastings United and Lambert was impressed with what he saw from the pacy winger.
“Zach is a young lad that wants to get on in the game,” said Lambert
“He’s got a great first touch, he’s quick, got quick feet and I thought he acquitted himself well.
“Jason has had a few minutes here and there in recent games and he’s looked quite good so we gave him the nod for a start and I thought he did well.
“I thought he was maybe a bit rusty and held on to it a bit too long but we got 45 minutes out of him which was pleasing.”
Southern Combination Premier outfit Town have the best defensive record in the league and comfortably dealt with the goal threat from a Common side who have scored 93 goals in 28 league matches in Division One.
“This game was about giving one or two players that haven’t had much game time some minutes and resting one or two, then it was job done really because we are through to the next round,” said Lambert.
“I thought we dominated the game from start to finish but especially first half, on a pitch that was really bobbly.
“It was a difficult surface to play football on because we like to get the ball down and play, but apart from one or two long range efforts that Greg (Nessling) saved comfortably, they never really threatened us.”
Town asserted their dominance almost immediately and should have been ahead inside five minutes, but Evan Archibald could only direct his free header from a corner straight at Common goalkeeper Elliot Stokes.
However, Archibald made no mistake with his second headed chance to give Town the lead just seven minutes later as he brilliantly converted the overlapping full-back Jack Tucker’s teasing cross from the left.
The work rate from Town’s forwards was immense throughout and they might have doubled their lead when the returning Jason Taylor won the ball high up the pitch only to see his effort brilliantly blocked.
Town spent the remainder of the half dominating possession without creating many clear cut chances to increase their advantage.
12 minutes into the second-half Common created their first opportunity when Jamie Crone was played in behind the Town defence but he couldn’t make proper contact and the chance was gone.
Town really should have doubled their lead swiftly after this but missed two glorious chances in quick succession.
First, Archibald blasted over from close range with only the keeper to beat before shooting straight at the keeper just minutes later with debutant Zach Kieran wide open across goal for a tap in.
But Town were relentless in their pursuit for a second goal and it seemed a case of how long Common could hang on for rather than if they would get an equaliser.
With just over ten minutes remaining, substitute Chris Cumming-Bart hit a fierce shot from distance that Stokes just about held on to at the second attempt.
Two minutes later, the increasingly impressive Zach Kieran went on a darting run down the left and beat multiple players before his low cross found Archibald at the back post but his shot from no more than a yard was incredibly saved by the lunging Stokes.
With the forwards seemingly unable to give Town the two-goal advantage they craved, central defender Sam Willet tried his luck from range only to see his effort smash off the crossbar.
However, Town finally had their reward for their hard work with just minutes remaining when Archibald closed down Stokes during an attempted clearance and the rebound fell perfectly off the crossbar for him to tap in and confirm Town’s progression.