MILE OAK Football Club boss Anthony Whittington admits it will be a big ask for his side to finish in the top three, after Saturday’s late defeat at Little Common.
Oak went into the match on the back of a 2-1 win at County League Division 2 leaders Worthing United but, with several players unavailable, conceded twice in the final 15 minutes and lost the game.
Oak are fifth in the table, eight points behind third-placed AFC Uckfield, with one game in hand.
Whittington said: “We had a bad start to the day, with three players dropping out, and then we had a bad end by conceding the winner in injury-time.
“It makes it almost impossible to finish third now.
“We’ll probably have to win our last eight games, or at least seven, so we’ve made it hard for ourselves and it’s a big ask.”
Oak were without Jamie Watts, Andy McDowell, Chris Pulling, Chris Paine, Danny Curd and Adam Dine, owing to a combination of injury or unavailability, but took the lead after just three minutes.
Asa Turley-George and Harry Brown were unable to get on the end of a cross but Gary French fired home from six yards.
Brown was then denied by the Little Common keeper, while the hosts dominated in terms of possession and shot a couple of openings wide.
On a heavy pitch, it became increasingly difficult to play flowing football and Common levelled on 75 minutes.
A free kick was only half cleared and after the ball was laid off, Martin Denny shot the ball home through a crowded penalty area.
Oak almost regained their lead when Richard Hudson beat two players but shot just over.
As the game entered injury-time, Oak keeper Aaron Stenning spilled a shot from the edge of the penalty area and Alex Carey pounced to give Common all three points.
Whittington added: “If Richard’s shot had gone in, then I think we would have held on and got the win.
“It was a frustrating finish to the game as I thought we deserved a point.”
Oak travel to Westfield in the league on Saturday.
MILE OAK: Stenning; Macdonald, Lansdale, Turley-George, Marsh; Koroma, Garrod, French, Skinner; Hudson, Brown. Subs: Howard (Brown 70), Loughlin (Koroma 80).