Rye Town manager Shane Ridgers believes the football club can challenge for the league title heading into its final game before the festive break.
Town will host Robertsbridge United tomorrow (Saturday) lying third in the Macron East Sussex Football League Premier Division and only two points behind leaders Hollington United.
Ridgers said: “All the time it’s mathematically possible, the feeling around the club is we can do it. If the results go the way they should over the weekend, we’re a win from going top if you like at Christmas and that’s when you look at the table.”
Rye, last season’s Division One champions, have won six and drawn three of their nine league games so far. Only an added time goal denied them victory in a 1-1 draw away to Hollington in late October.
“Before it was more ‘can we compete against Hollington?’ continued Ridgers. “Now we’ve done that it’s given the boys the belief that we can mix it and we can challenge for the title.
“Everyone’s still talking about us being up there as well. And when other people are talking about you, you’re obviously doing something right.”
Rye will achieve the remarkable feat of going through the whole of 2017 unbeaten in all competitions if they avoid defeat against Robertsbridge tomorrow.
As well as clinching the league title last term, Rye also won the Hastings & District FA Junior Cup and Robertsbridge Charity Intermediate Cup.
So far this term they’ve won two games in the ESFL Premier Travel Challenge Cup, and one in the Hastings & District FA Intermediate Cup and Robertsbridge Intermediate Cup.
“It would be massive for us to go unbeaten,” added Ridgers, who will be urging his players to adopt the right mental approach against fourth-placed Robertsbridge tomorrow after believing they failed to do so in the drawn reverse fixture on Saturday November 4.
“It’s a bit of a tricky encounter that one. They’re a bit of a topsyturvy side. They’ve been pulling out a few results and are quite a difficult side to beat.”
Rye goalkeeper Joe Ramsden is suspended following his red card against Ore Athletic last time out a fortnight ago. Ridgers himself would be the obvious replacement, but has damaged the sciatic nerve in his back and has been unable to even walk properly.
The versatile Craig Pierce, who has been in fine form wherever he’s played over the last few weeks, may therefore don the gloves, as he did after Ramsden’s dismissal against Ore.
Charlie Stevens is also banned, George Ball is out with a knee injury and Dom Cruttenden now seems sure to miss the rest of the season through injury after an unsuccessful 10-minute run-out against Ore.
Rye will still be strong, though, and the dual-registered Kenny Butchers should be available if needed as his parent club, Langney Wanderers, are without a fixture. Kick-off at The Salts is 2pm.
Rye were without a game last weekend as they took part in the Rye Christmas Festival 2017, winning a couple of trophies to boot.
Rye retained the Christmas pudding race title and went one better than 2016 by winning the tug of war competition.