Rye Town Football Club has clinched a magnificent treble in its inaugural season.
Having already won the Macron East Sussex Football League Division One title and Hastings & District FA Junior Cup, Town clinched the Robertsbridge Charity Intermediate Cup last night (Monday).
Rye did it the hard way, though, coming from 2-0 down at half time to beat Division Two champions Bexhill AAC in a dramatic final at The Pilot Field, home of Hastings United FC.
“It showed character,” said Rye manager Shane Ridgers. “We’ve not been in that situation all season so it was a test to see how the players reacted to being 2-0 down in a cup final.
“But everyone stuck together - like we have done all season - dug in and got our just rewards. It’s really positive that the players can dig in when needed and grind out results. I’m delighted with the boys.”
Although they trailed at the break, Rye played some good football during the first half and created several chances. They came particularly close when Charlie Stevens had a shot headed off the line after he stayed on his feet despite being caught by the goalkeeper when rounding him.
But a brace of goals from the jet-heeled Alex Williams put Bexhill in charge. The first came after Ridgers rather flapped at a cross and the second was a really good finish.
Ridgers made amends for his mistake with the first goal by producing a decent save before half time, which could well have been crucial to the eventual outcome.
Despite their deficit, Rye remained upbeat at half time and believed they could turn the game around. They got one back within three minutes of the restart via a terrific 25-yard free kick from Dominic Cruttenden.
That goal really got Rye going and with substitute Sammy Foulkes giving them a new lease of life with his drive in midfield, Pikes Cleaning man of the match Cruttenden rattled the crossbar with another free kick.
Ben Heffernan was causing lots of problems out wide and Rye kept having chances to get in behind the opposition. Richard ‘Alfie’ Weller raced through and coolly slotted past the goalkeeper to make it 2-2 in the 73rd minute.
AAC’s goalkeeper had pulled off a terrific save from Stevens, but it was Stevens who grabbed the winner in the 78th minute with a rather scuffed shot which nestled in the far corner.
Bexhill fashioned few clear chances during the second half, yet they almost grabbed an equaliser when a shot across goal struck the far post.
“It was a really good way to finish the season,” added Ridgers, who again wished to acknowledge the support the club has had, from sponsors and spectators alike. “Getting the treble was beyond what we expected at the start of the season.
“And to do it in the fashion we did, coming from behind and showing people how we can play - as opposed to the week before when we won (the Hastings Junior Cup) in poor fashion - was very pleasing.”
Rye: Ridgers; Wilson, Cruttenden, Willis; Heffernan, Henham, Hurley (Gould), Skinner, Fraser (Foulkes); Weller, Stevens. Subs not used: Ball, Osborne, Walker.
The club is hoping to organise a tournament to raise funds for the family of Steve Lemon, of Rye Barbers. A personal friend to many at Rye Town, Steve is currently battling cancer.
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