The Sussex Senior Cup may not be Eastbourne Borough’s top priority, but as consolation prizes go, a place in the semi-final is not a bad one.
Blue Square Bet Premier survival is becoming a more elusive target for the Sports, but even the threat of relegation can’t remove the singular joy of a victory or of a goal.
The home contingent got both on Tuesday night as County League division one Rye United were brushed aside.
Borough ensured that Scott Ramsay and Danny Leach would not enjoy their returns to Priory Lane. Ramsay, who hit 135 goals in 283 matches for the Sports, started in the centre of defence, with Leach alone up front.
But first-half strikes from Steve Brinkhurst and Matt Crabb and Richard Pacquette’s second-half effort secured their progress. Only Crawley Down stand between Borough and a place in July’s final at the Amex Stadium, Brighton’s new home.
Boss Garry Wilson said, “We played some players that have been on the fringe recently, they’ve been out of the side and maybe have got a point to prove, show us what they can do and I think some of them did that.
“We knew the game would be played at a bit of a tempo with ex-players (Ramsay and Leach) and Rye have had a very good season and you can see why, we had to compete. It was competitive and it was a great game for us.
“We’re just pleased to win and keep a clean sheet, that’s the most important thing and gets us through to the semi-final of the cup.”
Wilson handed a debut to Jack Holland, who joined on loan from Crystal Palace last week. He partnered fellow loanee Dan Kelly in the centre of defence, with Micky Demetriou also earning a run out.
They might have edged ahead as early as the first minute when Brinkhurst connected with Matt Crabb’s cross, but he couldn’t direct his header goalwards.
But Rye soon came into the game, as Borough’s familiar frailties rose to the surface. Possession was squandered too easily and the visitors came close to getting on the scoresheet. Rikki Banks had to be alert to deny Jack Dixon in the ninth minute and just moments later defender Jono Richardson nodded narrowly wide from a corner.
As the half wore on, Wilson’s men found their rhythm.
Simon Weatherstone hit the bar from range and George Purcell wasted a gilt-edged chance, before Brinkhurst fired in a rasping 25-yard effort.
It was two on the stroke of half-time when Purcell teed up Matt Crabb who fired home from a tight angle.
Rye tired after the break and Pacquette rounded off the victory with a tap-in after good work from Brinkhurst.
Borough: Banks 7 (Barton, 77), Baker 7 (Jenkins, 70), Kelly 7, Holland 7, Demetriou 7, M. Crabb 6 (Johnson, 70), Strevett 6, Weatherstone 7, Brinkhurst 8, Pacquette 7, Purcell 6.
Subs not used: Barton, Taylor, Hutchinson.
Yellow cards: Weatherstone.
Rye: Pelling, Radley, Watson, Gall (Franklin, 54), Richardson, Dixon (Watson, 88), Upton, MacLean (Tuppenney, 74), Leach, Ramsay, Cole. Subs not used: Clarke, Rose.
Referee: Mr J Pike. Att: 299.