Rye United pulled off a splendid 2-0 win at home to Littlehampton Town this afternoon (Saturday) despite playing the final 26 minutes with nine men.
The Quarterboys had two players sent-off in the second half while the score was 1-0, but managed to keep their opponents out at one end and double their advantage at the other.
It was Rye’s first Sussex County Football League Division One victory since October 12 and it came against a fourth-placed Littlehampton side which was 15 points above them at kick-off.
Rye opened the scoring in the 34th minute. Littlehampton goalkeeper Jon Hendrick failed to get enough on his punch from a Bryce Masters cross under pressure from Ade Olorunda and left-back Andy Hales fired home on the half-volley.
But much of the drama was reserved for after the break. Olly Lockyer was given his marching orders in the 54th minute having been shown his second yellow card of the half, although Rye felt hugely aggrieved at the first caution.
Rye goalkeeper Greg Nessling made a good save with his body to deny a clean through Gary Peters from George Gaskin’s headed pass and Gaskin then side-footed wide on the half-volley from Mitchell Hand’s free kick.
Rye midfielder Anthony Storey was given his second yellow card in the 69th minute for upending the dangerous Alex Kew inches outside the box on the away right. His first caution, incidentally, was for protesting about Lockyer’s initial booking.
Although Littlehampton inevitably had virtually all the play thereafter, the goalscoring opportunities fell to Rye on the break. Ben Billings brought two fine saves out of Hendrick after brilliant runs from impressive lone striker Olorunda.
Littlehampton had a player of their own sent-off in the 88th minute as defender Josh Bates was red carded for a professional foul on Gregg Berry, who had latched onto a throughball from fellow substitute Ryan Cooper. Billings converted the resulting penalty to seal a memorable Rye victory.
Rye: Nessling, Masters, Hales, Alexander, Russell, O’Callaghan (Berry 75), Storey, Billings, Olorunda (S. Cooper 86), Archibald (R. Cooper 75), Lockyer.