League champs Rye net cup glory

Rye Town Football Club celebrates after winning the Hastings & District FA Junior Cup.
Rye Town Football Club celebrates after winning the Hastings & District FA Junior Cup.
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Rye Town Football Club has added some cup silverware to its league success.

The Macron East Sussex Football League Division One champions clinched the Hastings & District FA Junior Cup with a 1-0 win over Sedlescombe Rangers II in Monday night’s final.

A second half strike from Charlie Stevens proved the difference between the teams at The Pilot Field, home of Hastings United FC.

Mid-table Division Three side Sedlescombe frustrated Rye during a first half in which Rye failed to muster a single shot on target. Rye goalkeeper Shane Ridgers made a decent save at the other end to tip an effort over the crossbar.

Rye were guilty of too many loose passes during the opening period and defender Dominic Cruttenden might have been fortunate to receive a yellow card rather than red for a lunging tackle. Cruttenden was very solid apart from that, though, and in fact was Rye’s Pikes Cleaning man of the match.

Kelvin Wall and Marc Gall addressed the players in Rye’s dressing room at half time, and their words had the desired effect as Rye upped their game and dominated the second period.

The all-important goal came within three minutes of the restart. Chris Gould delivered a great ball into the box and the prolific Stevens was on hand to find the back of the net.

Rye introduced Ollie Skinner and Adam Hurley, and they began to keep the ball well and create a lot more chances. By contrast, Sedlescombe barely threatened after the break.

Ben Heffernan headed wide at the end of a great move involving Ridgers, Rob Wilson and Gould, while Sedlescombe’s goalkeeper pulled off some tremendous saves, including a particularly memorable one to deny Hurley.

Rye manager Ridgers said: “A lot of the players in their mind did the old trick of looking at league tables and seeing we were two leagues above.

“I think some of them were nervous as well. A lot of people came to support us and I think they (the players) were trying too hard in one sense and instead of playing simple stuff, they were trying to do things too quickly and making wrong choices.

“But we were a lot more positive in the second half and it could’ve been four or five-nil in the end. We had tremendous support and we got the win.”

Ridgers’s son Charlie was celebrating his sixth birthday and he went up to collect the cup with captain Sam Henham.

Rye: Ridgers; Wilson, Cruttenden, Willis; Ball (Skinner), Henham, Osborne (Hurley), Gould, Heffernan; Stevens, Weller (Levett).

Rye will be hoping the Hastings Junior Cup is part two of a potential treble because they are also through to the Robertsbridge Charity Intermediate Cup final.

That match, against Division Two champions Bexhill AAC, will be played at the same venue next Monday (May 1), again with a 7.30pm kick-off.

Ridgers says there will be changes to the starting line-up for that match and says his team will need to ‘step it up’ against a Bexhill side likely to contain ex-Rye United forward Andy Atkin.

Attacking player Rob Levett is on holiday, but midfielder Sammy Foulkes is available for this match having been cup-tied against Sedlescombe.

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