Rye clinch promotion spot without kicking a ball

Action from Rye Town's last outing, a 5-0 victory at home to Westfield II on Saturday February 18.
Action from Rye Town's last outing, a 5-0 victory at home to Westfield II on Saturday February 18.

Rye Town clinched promotion from Macron East Sussex Football League Division One without even kicking a ball.

Scheduled hosts Wadhurst United were unable to raise a side for last weekend’s game and Rye were therefore handed the three points they needed to secure one of the two promotion places via a walkover.

Rye manager Shane Ridgers said: “It’s a bit of a poor way to gain promotion or a top two finish, but nevertheless it is what it is. Premier Division clubs have congratulated us and said they’re looking forward to having a game against us next year.”

It goes down as Rye’s 14th win from 16 league matches, and they possess comfortably the best goal difference of anybody in the division (+45), as well as the most prolific attack (60 goals in 16 league games).

As far as the league’s concerned, Rye’s focus will now be fixed on clinching the title. Third-placed Bexhill Town are the only team who can deny them top spot, but they are now 16 points behind Rye with five games in hand after last weekend’s 1-1 draw away to second-placed Crowhurst.

Four points from their two remaining league fixtures will guarantee Rye top spot, although a win against still unbeaten Bexhill (on a date to be announced, probably next month) will suffice. Their other game is at home to second-bottom Icklesham Casuals on Saturday March 18.

Rye’s successful league campaign will be put to one side for the next fortnight as they contest a pair of cup semi-finals.

Town will travel to Bexhill United II in a Hastings & District FA Junior Cup last four tie this Saturday before visiting Hawkhurst United in the Robertsbridge Charity Intermediate Cup on Saturday March 11.

Bexhill play two levels below Rye in Macron East Sussex Football League Division Three, but several Rye players watched them see off Division One side Bexhill Town in the quarter-finals and will know not to under-estimate them.

Saturday’s match will take place at The Polegrove and kick-off is 2.30pm. Sammy Foulkes is cup-tied, but Ollie Skinner is back from Australia and is likely to feature.

See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.

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