A long time coming but Rye pull off the first home win of the season with an excellent all-round team performance against a very ordinary looking East Preston side on Saturday 4 February.
An ebullient attitude prevailed at the Salts from the start, despite and perhaps because of, the departure of several ‘key’ players who have been suffering from despondency due to several cruel results over the recent weeks. A testament to the determined attitude of new manager Will Toal then who has been able to hold onto players during a period that could have caused a free-fall of departures, the bringing forward of youth from the very successful Under 18’s side that is under his tutelage and the shrewd signing of new talent meant that the regulars at the Salts were treated to a competitive line-up regardless of the numerous suspensions, injuries and departures suffered over recent weeks.
Key to this result must surely have been the reversion of Chris Gould to his left midfield role, which was so successful for him last season and seems to be his natural home and the use of John Bradley as target man up front a position made available for him by the recent departure of the much vaunted Colin Johnston. Bradley looked much more troublesome toward the opposition occupying this position than anything I have seen at the Salts this season from the outset of the match both these players were causing real problems in the EP defence.
Further quality service was given to Bradley by the ever reliable pace and silky touch of Tim Chenery, and the welcome disciplined and stately looking return of Matt Sellick. Rye favourite Jono Richardson was given a well justified start at left back in this match and was well complemented on the right by a transformed looking Brett Griffin who looked much more committed in the tackle and in the air than he had done previously to his recent first team lay off.
With the ever solid performances from James Simms, a sometimes possessed looking captain Marc Gall giving more than his usual 200% in the centre of defence and midfield general Dave Temple playing in front of the back four spreading intelligent balls wide into space, capped off by an impressive looking, but barely troubled, serendipitious signing, keeper Josh Willis this all-round team performance made it difficult for East Preston to take part in this tie and also in selecting our man of the match.
The first goal came in the 37th minute Joe Cornwall taking advantage of a fluffed stop by the EP No1 from a Bradley strike, and far from looking like holding on to what would normally be a precious 1-0 lead, Rye looked intent to offer more of what had put them in front in the first place. Sure enough the second goal came in the 70th minute from a confident strike by Chris Gould which sent the Salts into a cup final style frenzy. Just reward for a club that has battled on throughout a season that would have finished many off by now through plain despair.