Five-star Rye go eight points clear at top

Ben Heffernan scored Rye Town's second goal and was their man of the match against Mountfield United.
Ben Heffernan scored Rye Town's second goal and was their man of the match against Mountfield United.

Rye Town Football Club extended its lead at the top of the table after making a five-star start to the new year.

A 5-0 victory at home to Mountfield United, coupled with second-placed Crowhurst being held to a draw by The JC Tackleway, means Rye are now eight points clear at the top.

Third-placed Bexhill Town - the only other team in the title equation - were in cup action last weekend and now trail Rye by 14 points but have five games in hand.

Rye hit the ground running in their first outing after the festive break, netting four times in the first 18 minutes and completing the scoring just before half time.

They opened their account inside two minutes. Ben Heffernan, playing up-front in the absence of the injured Chris Gould, won a great header and Charlie Stevens poked home his 18th league goal of the season from inside the box.

Heffernan went from provider to scorer seven minutes later, bringing the ball down neatly on his chest and volleying home a great finish from outside the area.

Sammy Foulkes scored Rye Town's fourth and fifth goals against Mountfield United.

Sammy Foulkes scored Rye Town's fourth and fifth goals against Mountfield United.

Rye went 3-0 up in just the 12th minute. Ollie Skinner, playing out wide as opposed to his usual central role, raced past the Mountfield full-back before coolly slotting beyond the oncoming goalkeeper.

Number four arrived shortly afterwards when Sammy Foulkes, who was controlling the game in central midfield, dribbled past a couple of opponents before rounding the goalkeeper and tapping into an empty net.

Foulkes added his second and Rye's fifth in the 42nd minute following an inspired piece of quick thinking between him and Stevens. A quick chat between the two led to Stevens delivering an inch-perfect corner for Foulkes to head home at the near post.

With the game well and truly won by half time having completely dominated the opening period, Rye's priority for the second half was to keep a second consecutive clean sheet.

Although they remained in total control during the second half, Rye weren't as effective in the final third and failed to add to their healthy tally as a result.

They still hit the post five times, however, and the Mountfield goalkeeper pulled off some very good saves, two of them from Heffernan.

Heffernan was the Pikes Cleaning man of the match for a Rye side which changed all three of its central midfielders during the second 45 minutes. The match sponsor was Tony Hailey Country Services.

Rye: Weller; Wilson, Cruttenden, Willis; Skinner, Henham (Osborne), Hurley (Cooke), Foulkes (Ball), Fraser; Stevens, Heffernan.

A tougher test is anticipated this coming Saturday when, weather permitting, Rye are due to visit fourth-placed Tackleway for a 2pm kick-off.

Sam Henham is attending a wedding and there will also be no Richard 'Alfie' Weller so either manager Shane Ridgers or midfielder Adam Hurley will don the goalkeeper's gloves.

The following weekend, incidentally, Rye are away to Bexhill in a potentially pivotal game in the race for the title.

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