Lead disappears as Rye suffer first defeat

Rye Town's footballers remember the fallen in their Remembrance weekend Poppy shirts.
Rye Town's footballers remember the fallen in their Remembrance weekend Poppy shirts.

Rye Town Football Club suffered its first league defeat after seeing a two-goal half time lead overturned.

Strikes from Charlie Stevens and Dom Cruttenden had seemingly put Rye in command, but they conceded three times after the break to go down 3-2 at home to Crowhurst on Saturday.

Rye remain top of Macron East Sussex Football League Division One, but second-placed Bexhill Town - the last remaining unbeaten side - are only six points behind with three games in hand.

Luke Willis came into the starting line-up following his return from holiday and Rye fielded a strong matchday squad with Ben Heffernan and Rob Levett back from injury on the substitutes' bench.

On a wet afternoon at The Salts, Rye played fairly well during a first half of relatively few opportunities and manager Shane Ridgers felt they might even have been further ahead at half time.

The damp conditions were a factor with Rye's two goals as the Crowhurst goalkeeper would have been disappointed not to have saved admittedly well-struck shots from Rye's very much in-form front two.

Richard 'Alfie' Weller was Rye Town's man of the match in the 3-2 defeat to Crowhurst.

Richard 'Alfie' Weller was Rye Town's man of the match in the 3-2 defeat to Crowhurst.

Stevens got the opener in the 34th minute and Cruttenden netted the second goal five minutes later.

Although he felt Rye were in total control, Ridgers was still wary of the threat posed by Crowhurst, who he regards as a second half team.

The visitors duly wanted it more after the turnaround and were seemingly first to every ball as they showed more determination than Rye.

Crowhurst got a lifeline with a goal right at the start of the second period and it wasn't long before they were back on level terms. George Ball, who had a good first half, conceded a needless penalty which Crowhurst converted to make it 2-2.

Luke Willis wearing Rye Town's special Remembrance weekend shirts adorned with a Poppy symbol.

Luke Willis wearing Rye Town's special Remembrance weekend shirts adorned with a Poppy symbol.

Frustration was setting in for Rye and they began to play as individuals rather than collectively against a well-drilled and well-organised Crowhurst outfit.

Despite not playing particularly well, Rye probably looked the more likely winners and the Crowhurst goalkeeper pulled off four top class saves during the second half.

Rye goalkeeper Richard 'Alfie' Weller was also in fine form, earning Rye's Pikes Cleaning man of the match award for the cracking saves he produced.

With Rye perhaps missing the tenacity of Sammy Foulkes in midfield, third-placed Crowhurst completed their terrific turnaround with a top corner winner in the 88th minute.

The defeat makes Rye's quest to win the title a bit more difficult, but Ridgers says he is not too down and there is a long way to go.

In a lovely touch to the servicemen who have died in combat, Rye marked the Remembrance weekend by wearing shirts adorned with a Poppy and observed a minute's silence before the game. The match was sponsored by Taxi Booth.

Rye: Weller; Osborne, Henham, Willis; Ball (Brain), Hurley, Gould, Skinner (Levett), Cooke (Heffernan); Cruttenden, Stevens. Sub not used: Wilson.

Already halfway through their league programme, Rye will turn their attention to the Hastings & District FA Junior Cup tomorrow (Saturday) and a second round tie away to Pebsham Sibex. Kick-off is 1.30pm.

Willis misses out through work and Kevin Earl is away, and Ridgers plans a spot of squad rotation for a match against opposition from Division Three.

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