Ide Hill showed commendable mettle on a bruising afternoon in Sidcup, coming back from one goal down to beat top half rivals Tudor Sports and rise back to third in the table.
Playing on a heavy pitch against a physical and direct side was never going to make for an attractive afternoon and this became apparent from the off, as Tudor looked to feed their giant target man and tricky wingers early and build from there.
The early parts of the game swung from end to end as Tudor created some openings from their direct style, whilst Ide Hill carved through Tudor at the other end in response, George Kensell was slipped in after 15 minutes but his close-range shot was parried out and swept away by the defender.
Callum Heath and Jaymes Randall began to provide more thrust down the flanks once the game settled; one attack down the left saw some smart passing between Randall and Ryan before a cross was headed in to the side netting by Columb Grant on 25 minutes. Mike McKay made a fantastic save on the half hour, the Tudor left winger attempting an audacious chip from 20 yards, which McKay managed to tip on to the post then bravely smother the follow up.
Tudor snatched the lead minutes later though, a contentious foul was given wide on the right following another titanic tussle between Joe Baker and the Tudor target man; the free kick was curved into a crowded box, McKay, under pressure, dropped at the feet of a Tudor forward who hooked into an empty net, with the ball deemed to have just crossed the line and the goal was given.
In seasons past, and even earlier this term, this may have spelled trouble for the visitors, but the Hill have grown an impressive steely resolve; they gathered themselves immediately and hauled themselves back level before Tudor had time to enjoy being ahead. Luke Steggle, providing a solid foundation again at the base of the midfield, picked up the ball in the middle and threaded a pin point through ball for Ryan who brilliantly span his man, drove in to the box and rolled past the keeper in to the far corner for his 13th of the season and a rapid equaliser.
Tudor were clearly hoping that the second half would be theirs, banking on their physical approach wearing down Ide Hill, but the game went in the other direction, Ide Hill raising themselves physically and mentally, aided by injections of quality substitutions in the shape of Ben Holder, Shaun Boyle and Ainsworth, it was the visitors who grabbed the winner after 70 minutes.
A good interchange of passes started from Joe Baker at the back released Callum Heath, who raced away down the right, squared an accurate cross for Ryan who slotted the winner home from close range and earned a well-deserved Man of the Match in the process.
Ryan has been a smash in his first season, racking up 14 goals so far and was pleased with the game; “I’m happy to chip in with a few goals in a solid performance in tough conditions. We’ve started to hit form again and with some big challenges ahead we’re hoping to build on today and finish the season strongly”.
The impressive back three of Pearson, Baker and James held firm for the final period to comfortably see out the win and take Ide Hill back up to third in the table and give Ide Hill a deeply satisfying win in a battle of a game that Ide Hill were happy to put behind them with three points in the bank.
Manager Paul McDonagh was also positive about recording back to back wins; “It was a scrappy game on a poor surface, we had to dig in and fight for every ball. Barry was clinical in front of goal for us again and helped us deliver a very important win in respects of our position in the table”.
Next week, Ide Hill are due to host league leaders Staplehurst Monarchs at The Bourne Stadium in another severe test, although the reverse game was a good 1-1, one of only two games in which Staplehurst have dropped points this season.