Rye Town Football Club player-manager Shane Ridgers applauded his side despite suffering their first defeat on Saturday.
Macron East Sussex Football League Division One leaders Rye were beaten 5-2 at home to undefeated Premier Division high-flyers Hollington United in round one of the ESFL President’s Trophy.
Rye goalkeeper Ridgers, in fact, was the difference between the teams as he gifted the away side three goals, which proved critical in the final analysis.
Hollington manager Scott Price, a former Rye United player and manager, was full of praise for Rye, saying they were arguably the toughest side his team has faced so far this term.
Another three-figure crowd at The Salts saw Rye fall behind to a sloppy goal at the back post after Chris Gould gave away a cheap free kick.
Both sides were working hard and tackles were flying in during a well-matched encounter. Rob Wilson continued his scoring habit by heading in unmarked at the back post from a corner to level the score.
Hollington retook the lead when a tame strike trickled home against a goalkeeper diving outstretched yet ending up shorter than when he started!
The second half was all about Rye, with Sammy Foulkes instrumental in driving his side forward. Gould played a delightful throughball to Charlie Stevens, who raced into the box and squared for Richard ‘Alfie’ Weller to equalise with a finely worked goal.
The game became a battle with each side having chances. Hollington were denied by Ridgers saving a shot heading for the top corner, but not long afterwards Rye’s goalkeeper fumbled a simple catch to hand the visitors a 3-2 lead.
Once again Rye pressed and their efforts won a penalty. Foulkes let rip at goal down the middle only for an outstretched leg to make the save.
Gould and Ben Heffernan, both on yellow cards, were replaced instantly after Hollington scored their fourth goal with a fine strike from inside the Rye penalty area.
Hollington rounded-off the scoring in the final moments. Ridgers beat opposing forward Reece Johnson with a drop of the shoulder, but his toe-poked clearance was hammered into an empty net with the goalkeeper not in sight.
Despite the result, Rye’s collective performance was right up there. In fact, Ridgers and assistant Kelvin Wall were happier in defeat than with a win the previous weekend, and there were lots of positives to build on.
The Pikes Cleaning man of the match was Foulkes and the match was sponsored by Lee Gammon, of LG Projects carpentry and building.
Rye: Ridgers, Walker, Willis (c), Wilson, Wall (Ball), Foulkes, Levett, Gould (Fraser), Heffernan (Osbourne), Weller, Stevens. Sub not used: Earl.
Rye will return to league action tomorrow (Saturday) with another home game against Wadhurst United, kick-off 3pm. Sam Henham and Tom Harris are available, but Ridgers and Justin Wall are out with knee injuries.
Rye have won their opening three league games and a fourth victory tomorrow would put them three points clear at the top. Wadhurst are third with seven points from a possible 12.
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