Sidley beat Ringmer in key Mid Sussex League premier clash
Sidley United picked up a crucial three points and moved clear at the top of the Mid Sussex Premier Division as they inflicted a first defeat of the season on title rivals Ringmer with a 2-0 victory.
This match had all the bearings of a potentially decisive game at the top of the table with both sides unbeaten in 10 league matches coming into the game and separated only by goal difference.
The Blues thought they hit the front with just 25 seconds on the clock as a cross from the left was cushioned down by Paul Rogers to Sam Crabb who finished high into the net but the offside flag had gone up against Rogers.
Undeterred though Sidley dominated the opening exchanges and took the lead on 7 minutes as a throw-in fell at the feet of Crabb who poked the ball home at the near post from close range to give Sidley a dream start.
Ringmer grew into the game around 20 minutes in and started applying some pressure on the Sidley goal with goalkeeper Dan Hutchins making a good low save from an effort from distance while a momentary mix up right at the end of the half almost gifted Ringmer an equaliser before the Blues dealt with the danger. However going into the break Sidley felt they had a measure of control.
The second half began with Chris Agutter replacing Paul Rogers for the Blues to stiffen up the midfield. Unfortunately Agutter only managed to go 6 minutes before being booked for a foul tackle which presented Ringmer an opportunity with a free kick which Hutchins did well to beat away.
On 53 minutes came the most controversial and possibly decisive moment. As a Ringmer player attempted to head the ball back to his goalkeeper, Chris Cumming-Bart nipped in and lifted the ball over him. A scrambling covering defender hooked the ball out from the goal but the referee deemed that the ball had crossed the line first despite the assistant not signalling to indicate it had done so. The referee did go and speak to the assistant but deemed he was not in a credible enough position to tell and, confident in his decision, duly awarded Sidley the goal.
Two could have become three when Sidley caught Ringmer napping with a quick free kick which sprung Danny Ellis through on goal but he dragged his effort wide of the post. Fortunately, the miss mattered little as the Sidley back line doggedly defended some late Ringmer corners and crosses to secure the win, the clean sheet and a 3 point gap at the top of the table.
The Blues turn their attention to cup duty next week when they face Balcombe in the Montgomery Cup. The match will be played at the home of Hailsham Town FC.
Sidley: Hutchins, Walker, Featherstone, McEniry, Elliott-Noye (Funnell), Foster, Ellis, Carey, Cumming-Bart, S Crabb (McCue), Rogers (Agutter).