Rye Town Football Club suffered its first cup defeat since autumn 2016 on Saturday.
Town were edged out 1-0 away to fellow Macron East Sussex League high-flyers Hollington United in a Hastings & District FA Intermediate Cup quarter-final.
Hollington, who are unbeaten in all competitions this season and are the only team to have beaten Rye in a cup tie since the club was formed in 2016, prevailed in a tight contest thanks to a 66th minute goal from Jan Bailey.
Rye manager Shane Ridgers said: “It’s very much a shame that we lost the game, but we’ve got no-one to blame apart from ourselves. We had the team to win, we had the chances to win, but we didn’t. Fair play to Hollington and good luck to them in the forthcoming rounds.”
On a gloriously sunny and pleasantly mild February afternoon, Ridgers felt Rye could’ve been three-up in the first half-hour. Sam Richardson and Richard ‘Alfie’ Weller shot wide from presentable positions, and a couple of efforts from set-pieces were cleared off the line.
Hollington came into the game more during the second quarter of the contest and applied some pressure from corners. Rye goalkeeper Joe Ramsden pulled off a splendid save low to his right and late in the half spread himself well to make another stop.
As you would expect, a few tasty tackles were going in, notably one from Rye midfielder Sammy Foulkes which sent muscular Hollington defender Ross Southwood spinning through the air.
Rye reached the break pleased at how they’d won so many second balls, but disappointed not to have taken their chances, particularly as assistant manager Chris Gould had stressed before the game the need to be clinical in front of goal.
After Hollington ended the first half slightly on top, they came out a bit quicker at the start of the second period and Rye’s frustration at their missed opportunities began to set in as they tried to force things a bit.
Richardson came off with cramp and Hollington grabbed their winner moments later. Hollington broke down their right, played the ball into the box and Bailey rounded Ramsden to slot home.
Rye almost replied straight from the kick-off. Weller and Charlie Stevens combined superbly to break through Hollington’s defence, but Weller’s low shot was repelled by a great save from former Rye United player and manager Scott Price in the Hollington goal.
That proved to be Rye’s best chance of an equaliser. They had several shots from distance, including a Stevens rocket which Price did well to save, but it just wasn’t going to happen for them.
Rye’s Pikes Cleaning man of the match was Foulkes, who covered just about every blade of grass, and the match was sponsored by Quayside Cars.
“It’s clearly shown we’re not frightened of Hollington,” added Ridgers. “But we’ve got to get a win against them.”
Rye: Ramsden; Osborne (Buckley), Cruttenden, Willis; Pierce, Henham (Levett), Foulkes, Skinner, Richardson (Brain); Stevens, Weller.
After some shooting and finishing drills at training yesterday (Wednesday), it’s back to the league for Rye this coming Saturday and an away game against Ore Athletic at Tilekiln, St Leonards.
Rob Levett is rated 50-50 and George Ball is still injured, but the squad is back up to strength and Dominic Cruttenden played the full 90 minutes against Hollington. Kick-off in a game sponsored by Morfeys Removals is 2pm.
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