Rye Town Football Club was narrowly beaten by table-topping opposition on Easter Monday, despite making a flying start.
Charlie Stevens put Rye ahead inside two minutes, but Macron East Sussex League Premier Division leaders Hollington United hit back with a goal in either half for a 2-1 victory.
Rye also suffered an injury blow as midfielder Sammy Foulkes sustained a broken collarbone after landing awkwardly when going up for a header and he will miss the rest of the season.
Rye manager Shane Ridgers said: “First 20 minutes we looked good and really did have them on the back foot. But the longer the game went on, experience showed and they deserved their win.”
It was a terrific effort just to get the game played after all the recent rain. Ridgers and around seven other players spent several hours forking and sweeping the pitch, and putting sand and soil down to get the surface playable.
Initially it seemed as if their hard work would be rewarded as Rye quickly hit the front. After Foulkes won the ball in midfield, Ollie Skinner slipped it through to Stevens, who drove a left-footed shot under the goalkeeper at the near post.
A few tasty tackles unsurprisingly went in early on, and Rye defender Dom Cruttenden and Hollington forward Callum Smith were booked following an altercation in the first 10 minutes.
Although Rye fashioned a few half-chances, notably when Rob Levett went through only to be caught as he was about to shoot, Hollington came more and more into the game as the first half progressed.
Ridgers, deputising for Joe Ramsden in the Rye goal, made a decent save from a Sean Ray header at a corner, but Hollington levelled in the 40th minute.
After Rye defender Luke Willis slipped, Hollington attacked down their right and the ball was crossed in to Smith, who turned and fired into the far corner.
Hollington dominated throughout a second half in which Rye failed to create anything in the way of goalscoring opportunities.
Grant Payne was unlucky not to give Hollington the lead when he chipped the ball over Ridgers, who was struggling with a knee injury, only for it to spin against the post.
Hollington also had a couple of chances from corners before former Rye United player Ray, who was such a threat from set-pieces and gobbled everything up in defence, headed the 64th minute winner from close range.
Foulkes was the Pikes Cleaning man of the match and the game was sponsored by Tom Jebb Decorating Services.
Ridgers wished to thank all the players who helped get the pitch playable and wish Foulkes all the best for his recovery.
Rye: Ridgers; Osborne, Cruttenden, Fraser, Willis; Foulkes (Pierce), Skinner (Butchers), Henham; Stevens, Weller, Levett.
Assuming the pitch recovers, Rye will host fourth-placed Sidley United this coming Saturday (kick-off 3pm) in a game sponsored by Hayden’s, Rye.
The Premier Travel Challenge Cup quarter-final against Bexhill AAC has been rearranged for next Wednesday (kick-off 6.30pm) after being postponed on Saturday.