Charlie Stevens scored Rye Town’s first ever hat-trick in the football club’s biggest victory to date.
A convincing 7-1 win at home to bottom-of-the-table Northiam 75 on Saturday moved Rye seven points clear at the summit of Macron East Sussex Football League Division One.
It should be pointed out, though, that third-placed Bexhill Town - the only other unbeaten team - are nine points behind Rye with three games in hand.
Rye’s starting line-up showed three changes from the side which beat second-placed Little Common II the previous weekend. Injured player-manager Shane Ridgers, the sunset-bound Luke Willis and uncle Robert Wilson were replaced by Alfie Weller, Kevin Earl and Barnaby Osborne.
From the start it was clear the away side would struggle to contain the pace of Stevens and the intelligence of Dom Cruttenden, and within seven minutes the pair combined for Stevens to ferociously drill home the opener.
Stevens coolly finished off a nicely worked move from back to front to make it 2-0 on 27 minutes, but the home side had goalkeeper Weller to thank for a tremendous save to prevent a possible Northiam response.
Chris Gould, playing in a deeper role to allow the younger midfielders to demonstrate their stamina, smashed the ball into the top of the net from 15 yards to make it 3-0 at half time.
Stevens fired high and wide with the only real chance during a scrappy start to the second half, and Northiam gave themselves a lifeline on 63 minutes as Rye’s confident appeals for handball fell on deaf ears.
Cruttenden continued his run of scoring in every appearance to make it 4-1 on 70 minutes and four became five just three minutes later as Stevens rolled home a penalty to complete his treble. He also now leads the division’s goal charts with 10 strikes to his name.
Rye weren’t finished, though, and a fine display of strength from Cruttenden to hold off two players before turning and striking high into the net took his tally to five in four matches.
Gould, dropping deeper still and assisting the cramped Kevin Earl, started the move which resulted in a tap in for debutant Martin Brain at the far post to round-off the scoring.
Rye’s oldest player, Gould, grabbed the Pikes Cleaning man of the match award, voted by the referee. Alex Cooke was unlucky not to get the nod, and Cruttenden and Ollie Skinner also played well. The match was sponsored by Tony Hailey Country Services.
Rye: Weller, Earl, Henham (c), Osborne (Walker), Foulkes (Hurley), Skinner, Gould, Cooke, Ball (Brain), Stevens, Cruttenden. Subs not used: Hanny, Fraser.
Ridgers is expecting something of a selection dilemma as Rye host fourth-placed Crowhurst tomorrow (Saturday). Kick-off at The Salts is 2pm.
Elsewhere in the division tomorrow, Northiam will entertain Icklesham Casuals, Bexhill Town will face Herstmonceux and Mountfield United will travel to The JC Tackleway.
Rye Town Football Club’s upcoming fixtures (league unless stated): tomorrow (Saturday) Crowhurst (h), November 19 Pebsham Sibex (a) Hastings & District FA Junior Cup 2nd round, November 26 Little Common II (h), December 3 Mountfield United (a), December 17 Crowhurst (a).
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