Thursday, 16 January 2014

Crowborough Athletic 2 v 1 Rye United

Tuesday 14th January 2014
Sussex League Division One
Alderbrook Recreation Ground, Crowborough
Admission including programme: £6.00
Attendance: 127
Match Rating: 3

My first visit to the Alderbrook in 2014 promised to be an interesting encounter between two free-scoring games – indeed, on Saturday I witnessed Rye come out on top from a rollercoaster match 5-4. This game, rearranged after the originally scheduled match on Boxing Day was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, would be a local derby, although the clubs are separated by over 30 miles. The two clubs are fighting a common cause though, having both been allocated to the Southern Counties East League last summer, before successfully appealing against the decision following bitter opposition to the enforced move. A similar battle surely faces both clubs this summer too though, and one that will probably be lost this time.

With games thin on the ground in the last month due to the exceptional rainfall, current form of the two teams is difficult to gauge. Both had excellent results at the weekend, Crowborough picking up an excellent point at unbeaten runaway leaders East Preston (who had previously dropped just four points from their 18 league games, whilst Rye won 5-4 at home to St Francis Rangers, coming from behind twice. Coming into this game, Crowborough were in seventh place, picking up 31 points from 20 games, and Rye were in 13th place, picking up 23 points from 17 games.

Although heavy rain on saturated ground on Monday did put this game in a little doubt, Tuesday was completely dry, although drizzle did arrive during the second half. On a cold evening, the game was competitive but with no real goalscoring chances until the opening goal arrived on 39 minutes, when Crowborough were gifted the opening goal. The Rye keeper, Greg Nessling, took a swipe at a back pass but only the faintest of his studs made contact, allowing Michael Death to pounce and dribble towards goal before tapping into an empty net. Rye did have a great chance to level the scores on 42 minutes, but a one-on-one opportunity was screwed horribly wide.

Into the second half and Rye looked more threatening, although still the game was, for the most part, a midfield battle. On 48 minutes, Rye saw a shot blazed over the bar, and on the hour mark, Ade Olorunda – such a threat on Saturday but was barely in the game tonight – sidefooted wide from a good position following a low cross across the penalty area. Crowborough did have a rare good opportunity when Sam Carrington saw his powerful drive from a slight angle parried by the keeper. Just when it looked like Crowborough were to hold on for a narrow victory, Rye scored an equaliser, again a goalkeeper playing a large part, this time Nick Collick made a hash of cutting out a high cross  and the ball fell to Andy Hales, who drove the ball across the keeper and into the net. A draw would probably have been the right result on the balance of play, but in the sixth minute of added on time – much of it due to Crowborough’s Carrington needing to be stretchered off the pitch with a nasty looking ankle injury – Crowborough went back into the lead with a peach of a goal. After some scrappy play in the penalty area, Tom Boddy curled a delightful and perfectly judged shot from close to the edge of the penalty area over the keeper and just under the bar into the net. It was cruel on Rye, who could not fashion another chance in the remaining couple of minutes of added on time. And with that, Crowborough rose to fifth place whilst Rye stayed in thirteenth.

No comments: