BRAVE Selsey’s bid to end their season with some silverware fell at the final hurdle as they lost to two Rye penalties despite dominating long periods of the game.
They were left feeling aggrieved at the result after fighting back resolutely from an early Rye goal and taking the game to a team well above them in division one of the Sussex League.
A key moment came when ref Marc Meeten failed to show Rye centre-half Sean Kelly a second yellow card for a lunging tackle which left Blues defender Danny Watts needing treatment.
With a one-man advantage for more than half the game it could have been a different story for Selsey, who also appeared upset at the manner in which defender Julian Boniface sustained a cut above his eye which forced him out of the game before the interval.
So Selsey couldn’t return back to the peninsula with a trophy – but they do come back with their pride intact and with much to look forward to for their enterprising team for next season.
Rye had done the league double over Selsey earlier in the season – including an 8-1 thrashing over them in September – but that didn’t stop Selsey taking the game to Rye for long periods.
When the action began, Selsey’s Calum Britton picked up an early booking for catching Rye left-back Jono Richardson late, although the Blues man felt his opponent made a lot of it.
Britton was involved in Selsey’s first attack of note, but his inswinging free-kick was too near Rye keeper Josh Pelling.
Wes Tate produced Rye’s first shot of note from 25 yards but it was blocked by a Selsey leg to set up a counter-attack that almost led to Britton being put through by a pinpoint through-pass by Ollie Haggar.
Rye took the lead 13 minutes in Sam Adams tucked away a penalty after Boniface handled a cross from the right. There weren’t too many complaints from the Blues at the decision.
Selsey didn’t appear rocked by going one down early on and Graham Bush almost touched a right-sided cross from Dan Watts past Pelling.
Dan Hegarty was next to try his luck for Adam Hinshelwood’s men, but he didn’t catch his 25-yard shot right and Pelling was able to watch it trickle wide.
A bobbly pitch wasn’t making passing football easy and Watts was guilty of over-running one ball after the lively Britton played him in down the right wing.
Then Bush got away down the left but failed to find Max Thoms’ run into the box.
Selsey were enjoying by far the best of the possession and after Hegarty fluffed a volley 20 yards out following Bush’s set-up, Toby Pointing got forward from left-back to fizz a sweetly-struck shot wide of Pelling’s post.
Selsey’s physio was on after half an hour to tend to Boniface, who went down with a nasty cut just above the eye. It wasn’t clear what had happened but there was much pointing of fingers between the two teams.
The yellow-card count was evened up on 33 minutes when Rye defender Kelly sent Thoms flying 25 yards from goal. Britton’s free-kick cannoned off the wall.
Bush was unlucky not to even up the score on 35 minutes with an angled drive from outside the area that beat Pelling but shaved the outside of the post.
Boniface’s earlier injury – which appeared to be a forehead gash – forced Hinshelwood to replace him with promising youngster Omar Bugiel with seven minutes of the first half to go.
The sub’s first involvement was to surge forward and set up a chance for Thoms but his header wasn’t strong enough to cause Pelling any alarm.
Kelly was then extremely fortunate to stay on. Having already been booked, he lunged in on Watts, who needed treatment. RefereeMeeten must have been the only person in the ground who didn’t think it warranted a second yellow for Kelly.
Watts was the victim again when Richardson left him crumpled in a heap down the Selsey right. This time ref Meeten didn’t even talk to the offender.
In first-half injury time Bugiel almost nodded in a high Britton free-kick to the far post but it found the side netting.
As the half-time whistle blew, Selsey must have been heading to the dressing room wondering how on earth they were behind. Boss Hinshelwood was deep in conversation with the referee as the two camps headed in for the break.
Kelly didn’t appear for the second half, Rye perhaps thinking it would only take one more step out of line for him to get his marching orders. Ben Radley replaced him.
Selsey were quickly on the attack and Alun Morey whistled a fierce shot only just over.
Then Bush ran through and looked certain to equalise but curled his shot wide of the keeper’s far post.
In a rare Rye attack Shaun Loft skied a good chance from 12 yards, then play switched straight to the other end and a mix-up between Pelling and a defender almost left Thoms with an open goal, but a defender hacked the ball away.
For a spell, Rye were finally having more of the play – but you’d never have known Selsey had been on the end of an 8-1 Sussex League hammering at their place just seven months ago.
On 59 minutes, Rye hit Selsey with a second penalty. Wes Tate was brought down by Watts and Adams sent keeper Sam Joyce the wrong way from the spot. It was cruel on Selsey, who were now rueing not having turned their first-half dominance into a goal.
Rye made a second substitution on 63 minutes, Kenny Pogue replacing Tate. Selsey replaced Watts, who’d been in the wars, with Luke Killner, who was involved straight away but sent a 20-yard effort drifting high and wide. Ed Bowers replaced Britton.
Selsey skipper Mark Lee got away with a short backpass as Joyce came out of his area to block an advancing forward.
Bugiel forced a low diving save from Pelling as he burst down the right and into the area but there was a growing sense Selsey needed to strike quickly unless the game was to run away from them.
Pogue blasted over the bar with the goal gaping as a far-post cross fell to him.
Rye were claiming a third penalty on 77 minutes for a handball but the claim was over-optimistic.
Another Selsey cross flew across the face of goal without Bush able to get anything on it and time was running out.
Rye’s final change saw Jimmy Watson introduced for MacLean.
Selsey piled on the pressure in the final ten minutes but Rye were defending well and Ed Bowers’ shot was blocked when he was well-placed to shoot from 15 yards.
That was the last real chance and it was Rye who were celebrating come the final whistle.
Selsey: Joyce, Watts, Pointing, Heggerty, Boniface, Lee, Britton, Morey, Bush, Thoms, Haggar. Subs: Bowers, Hinshelwood, Killner, French, Bugiel.
Rye: Pelling, P Watson, Richardson, Loft, Rhodes, Kelly, Tate, Adams, RamsayMacLean, Upton. Subs: Radley, J Watson, Pogue, White, Winchester.
Ref: Marc Meeten (Ferring).