Rob Levett scored a hat-trick as Rye Town Football Club eased to a comfortable victory on Saturday.
Rye struck three times in the opening 13 minutes and twice more during the second half to win 5-0 at home to Ore Athletic in the Macron East Sussex Football League Premier Division.
Still unbeaten Rye remain third in the table, but are now only two points behind leaders Hollington United and one adrift of second-placed Battle Baptists.
It took Rye less than five minutes to open their account. Craig Pierce delivered a chipped ball into the box which eluded most players, but Levett got a faint touch and guided it past the goalkeeper.
Levett, who unwittingly blocked one goalbound Rye shot when he couldn’t get out of the way, netted his and his team’s second goal just seven minutes later. A cross came in and Levett, in customary fashion, smashed the ball home from three yards.
Rye went three-up through a wonder goal by Sam Richardson, whose magnificent left-footed half-volley from 25 yards flew into the top corner.
Pierce caused Ore problems with a number of excellently delivered corners which Rye were unable to capitalise on, but on the whole Rye weren’t at their best - and knew they didn’t have to be.
Rye brought on Lewis Carpenter at half time and moved Pierce out wide, away from the cut up central area of the pitch. Pierce duly provided the cross for Levett to head his third in the 57th minute.
Levett had a golden opportunity to add his tally. Luke Willis was tripped at the end of a run into the Ore box from left-back, but the usually deadly Levett uncharacteristically blazed the resulting penalty over the crossbar - and the clubhouse.
The game then took an ugly turn when an Ore player, who had previously taken a swipe at Levett and had a go at Joe Fraser, was tackled by Ollie Skinner and then appeared to head-butt the Rye midfielder.
Players from both sides got involved, many of them acting as peacemakers, and Rye goalkeeper Joe Ramsden, who had been a mere spectator for most of the match, ran into the opposing half to allegedly punch the Ore player who started it all.
Ramsden, whose actions were described as ‘not acceptable’ by a disappointed Rye manager Shane Ridgers, was sent-off. The Ore player was yellow carded, but was taken off by his manager even though he had no substitutes left.
The neat and tidy Carpenter completed the scoring with his first Rye goal in the 85th minute. The forward found himself free in the box and struck a left-footed shot which deflected into the net off an Ore defender, much to the delight of his team-mates.
The hard-working Pierce was again the Pikes Cleaning man of the match, while Adam Hurley played the full 90 minutes and looked sharp on his first outing since pre-season. The game was sponsored by Carly Pearson from Carly’s Childcare.
Rye: Ramsden; Fraser, Henham, Willis; Ball (Carpenter), Hurley, Skinner, Pierce, Richardson; Levett (Cruttenden), Weller. Subs not used: Gould, Ridgers.
Rye are without a fixture this coming Saturday as they are entering the Rye Christmas Festival. Their one remaining game before the festive break is at home to Robertsbridge United on Saturday December 16.
Rye have also signed Jake Bryant and the transfer of attacking player Tommy Buckley from Hollington is expected to be completed imminently.
* Rye Town manager Shane Ridgers is putting together a veterans’ team to play a Bexhill side in the new year. Anybody over 35 interested in playing can contact him on 07791 222716.