County League Division One – Peacehaven 0 Rye United 0 by Alex Panton
Rye parked the bus at Piddinghoe Avenue, leaving Peacehaven in need of lift.
On another hugely frustrating night for Haven they were unable to break down a determined Rye side and lost more ground in the title race.
Having won only two of their seven league matches since Christmas, they have gone from a seemingly unasailable postion to suddenly looking vulnerable.
A combination of fatigue, frustration and bad finishing is undermining them at the moment and all three factors were in evidence on Wednesday night.
Rye have all but imploded since exiting the FA Vase, with their manager and several of their top players having departed and payments to players withdrawn. It would have appeared that this was the ideal time to play them, though with the likes of Anthony Storey, Sam Crabb and Matt McLean in their line-up they couldn’t be taken likely.
They were at full stretch though, perfectly illustated by the inclusion of the veteran Mick O’Callaghan at full back.
Shaun Saunders left out Wes Tate and Carl Dunk and opted for an orthodox 4-4-2 formation.
Rye’s intentions were clear from the start as they packed midfield and left only Dominic Clarke up front. They were aggressive in the tackle and keen to unsettle the home side, whose nerves would have increased after Redhill’s 90th minute winner the previous evening.
Referee Darren Eaton was dominating proceedings, handing out a succession of cards, mainly to the visitors. To be fair, he didn’t have much choice, and the visitors “robust” approach wasn’t making for much of a spectacle. Storey has been put in joint charge of Rye, a task which probably appeals to his considerable ego, and he was enjoying being the centre of attention, barking out orders to his team-mates and the referee.
Peacehaven produced little in the first half, and apart from a header from Ashley Rees rarely threatened Joe Winchester in the Rye goal. Rye had a brief spell of attacking pressure at the start of the second half, but apart from that it was largely one way traffic, with Peacehaven forcing them further and further back towards their own goal.
Despite having most of the posession they were largely kept at bay. Rye were sticking to their task with vigour and denying them space to play balls through to Rees and McBride. The loss of Kevin Keehan before half time had robbed Peacehaven of some bite in midfield, and Storey, McLean and Upton were breaking up the majority of attacks at source. A succession of long balls were comfortably dealt with by the excellent Sean Kelly, and it was only from set pieces that they really looked vulnerable.
Adam Kneller’s header was saved by Winchester following a corner and from the follow up Ashley Jones headed over the bar. Rees and Wes Millis both had chances too, but were unable to find the target and eventually Rye collected their point with a degree of comfort.
TYE: Adams, Hall, Hill, Jones, Millis, Kneller, Keehan (Dunk 45), O’Toole, Rees, McBride (Walker 80), Dryer.