Last chance of a trophy disappears for Peacehaven

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PEACEHAVEN’s last chance of a trophy disappeared as they tumbled out of the John O’Hara Cup on Tuesday night. For the third match in a row Shaun Saunders’ men were unable to defend a lead, and a season which promised so much now looks set to end in disappointment.

Once again a promising first half was followed by a second half unravelling which saw the visitors claim victory in injury time. That may appear to be a heartbreaking defeat, but in truth Peacehaven should have been dead and buried by that point, and it was only a succession of fine saves from Jake Buss that had kept them in the match.

Rye United had arrived looking distinctly vulnerable, without a number of first choice players, and with only two substitutes at kick off (although reinforcements would later arrive). Peacehaven named nine of the players who faced Crowborough on Saturday, but only four started in the same positions. Total football or total confusion, you, dear reader, can decide!

Ryan Bradley returned to the starting line-up and Andy Wilkinson made a surprise return, on holiday from America. Wilkinson became the 33rd player to line up for the Tye this season, and the constant traffic in and out of the club is surely adding to their problems.

No one could question the quality of player Peacehaven have been able to attract, but it has come at the price of a lack of consistency in selections which has destablised the team.

The Tye made their customary good start, and took an early lead when Bradley scrambled a shot home after a corner wasn’t cleared.

Rye had taken some time to get going but Scott Ramsay’s powerful header before the break gave notice of their intentions.

Peacehaven could have extended their lead at the start of the second half when Wes Millis hit the bar and Josh Pelling made a good save from Carl Dunk, but the tide was soon to turn. With the wind behind them, Rye had come out with far more attacking intent and drew level when Buss got caught underneath Sam Adams’ corner and it found its way in at the back post. Buss then spilled a shot from Matt McLean at the feet of Wes Tate, who seized on the opportunity to put the visitors in front.

Against the run of play Peacehaven snatched an equaliser through a glancing header from Bradley, but most of the match was one way traffic from that point onwards.

Without a physical presence in attack, Peacehaven dropped deeper and deeper, inviting pressure, and it seemed a matter of time before Rye would regain their lead. But if Buss had been at fault for the two goals, he more than made up for it with a trio of fine saves from Ramsay which kept his side in the match.

Any prospect of extra time was ended when Phil Rhodes powered home a header in injury time.