Oxted & District join growing list of promotion contenders with narrow win over Ringmer
On a blindingly sunny afternoon at the Caburn Community Ground, Ringmer never quite settled into their natural rhythm and surrendered third place in the MSFL Premier Division as a result.
The visitors, meanwhile, used their physicality to full advantage in a game where the referee chose to stamp very little out, and ultimately deserved their win by playing the more fluent game.
It could have been a very different tale for Ringmer, who took the lead in just the fourth minute of the match when Ben Earle was released by an excellent Owen Brown pass down the right and Rhys Taylor was found to poke home at the far post.
Oxted equalised just two minutes later, however, courtesy of an absolute scorcher from left-back Joe Johnson, launched a strike with his weaker foot into the top right corner past Will Mizon.
The following period saw both sides try to settle into their styles, and with greater appetite for a challenge and a more concerted press, Oxted soon created the better chances.
Mizon and his centre-backs Curtis Wilton and George Maybury were unable to play the ball freely and were thrown off their rhythm as a result, with the pressure applied by Oxted leading to Mizon being forced to foul a visiting forward in the box after 30 minutes.
Striker Jake Dodgson expertly dispatched the spot-kick into the bottom left corner, which gave the visitors a boost to have the better of the play before half-time.
After Ringmer survived a series of corners, the scoreline remained 2-1 at the break.
Seeking an immediate improvement, the Blues returned without any changes but soon settled back into bad habits.
Forced into errors and occasionally creating some themselves, Ringmer flickered between brief periods of promise and much longer spells of wastage, with their end product being negligible.
Realistically, the absence of senior players Charlie Northeast, Dave Jones and Sheldon Grimes hit the Blues hard, as did the lack of a natural goalscorer to make more of the half-chances they created.
To give Oxted credit, they did superbly to throw Ringmer off their game and defend stoutly even when the Blues threw on Kyle Johnson and Tyler Watson from the bench.
The visitors then scored at a key time as Buster Hoy finished a slick counter-attacking move with a stabbed finish past the onrushing Mizon, effectively wrapping up the game in the BLANK minute.
Ringmer gave it their all to get back into the game, and in the 82nd minute they got a lifeline as Jacob Ashwood was found superbly on the left of the box and he finished past Oxted ‘keeper Dan Nairne.
The Blues pushed all they could with the majority of the ball in the closing stages but found the visitors a tough nut to crack, and after a frustrating afternoon, the final whistle was blown on 3-2.
While the final result saw Ringmer fall one place in the MSFL Premier table to fourth, a lack of league action for some sides leaves the table congested.
Just six points currently separate leaders Eastbourne United Association from 10th-placed Cuckfield Rangers, with a wide variety of games completed by the teams in that bracket.
Nonetheless, the Blues can only focus on themselves for now and will be working hard before their next fixture, away at Cuckfield Rangers next Saturday (18 September).
That game kicks off at 2pm at the Warden Park Secondary Academy 3G, Cuckfield (RH17 5DP), and we hope to see you there.
Ringmer AFC: Mizon, Brown, Ashwood, Wilton, Maybury, Webster (C), Coleman, Blackford, Colwell, Earle, Taylor
Subs used: Mandy, Johnson, Watson