10-man Rye fight back to stay unbeaten

Craig Pierce was Rye Town Football Club's man of the match in the 2-2 draw away to Robertsbridge United yesterday.
Craig Pierce was Rye Town Football Club's man of the match in the 2-2 draw away to Robertsbridge United yesterday.

Rye Town Football Club twice came from behind to preserve its unbeaten record in all competitions this season.

Goals from Craig Pierce and Charlie Stevens, the second of them after Rye were down to 10 men, earned a 2-2 draw away to Robertsbridge United in the Macron East Sussex Football League Premier Division yesterday (Saturday).

Rye manager Shane Ridgers said: “In the circumstances it was a point gained, but in all fairness it was two points lost. We weren’t good enough really.”

Rye had come within seconds of beating undefeated leaders Hollington United the previous weekend and Ridgers felt his team had an air of complacency about it against seventh-placed Robertsbridge.

“Too many of them went into the game thinking they were going to win the game before they got there,” he continued. “We’ve got to be switched on in every game and play it as though it’s a cup final. It’s a bit of a wake-up call.”

Robertsbridge were first to seemingly every ball in the first half and appeared to want it more. A few of the Rye players were wearing the wrong footwear on quite a heavy pitch and were slipping as a result.

Ridgers deputised for Joe Ramsden in the Rye goal and pulled off a one-handed save to prevent his team falling behind in the first five minutes. They did concede in the 13th minute, though, when Ben Hardy knocked the ball home after Austin Galea hit the crossbar.

Rye were quite disjointed in the middle of the pitch, but gradually grew into the game and equalised in the 21st minute. Pierce flicked the ball past a Robertsbridge defender and with Chris Gould offside but not making a play for the ball, Pierce carried on running before tucking home.

Ridgers dished out a half time rollicking to his players, who he felt weren’t working hard enough, and Rye began the second period really brightly, looking a totally different side.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men, however, as Sammy Foulkes was shown a second yellow card for a lunging tackle in the 55th minute.

Two minutes later Robertsbridge were back in front. Ridgers punched a cross into the box straight to Robertsbridge player Justin Mewett, who found the back of the net.

Rye brought on Charlie Stevens, who was originally out of the game with an ankle injury, and the hard-working forward gave them a new lease of life.

Straight away Stevens caused Robertsbridge problems and he got his reward with a 71st minute equaliser, picking out the bottom corner from just inside the box following a great ball by Ollie Skinner.

Although Rye dominated when down to 10 men, they needed a fabulous save from Ridgers near the end to remain undefeated.

Pierce was Rye’s Pikes Cleaning man of the match for a fantastic display and Rye’s other wing-back, Sam Richardson, had his best game for the club. Will Barden was Robertsbridge’s man of the match. Rye’s match sponsor was Graeme Campbell from Station Antiques.

Rye: Ridgers; Osborne, Fraser, Willis; Pierce, Brain, Foulkes, Skinner, Richardson (Ball); Levett (Stevens), Gould (Carpenter).

Rye’s next four games are all at home, starting with another league fixture against St Leonards Social next Saturday. Kick-off in a match sponsored by Sam Tollett from Empire Taxis is 2pm. Robertsbridge are away to Hawkhurst United next weekend.