AFC Uckfield Town secured their first ever FA Cup victory with Bailo Camara’s incisive second-half goal, ousting a close challenge from visitors Glebe for a lucrative progression, reports Will Hugall.
A first point to their name after a midweek 1-1 draw at Newhaven, the Uckers enacted three changes, with manager Anthony Storey dropping himself for Ellis Cormack, while Craig Norman Callum Smith both returned from holiday, replacing Sam Cooper and Matt Black.
Space in abundance, the tie began in open circumstances, edged by the visitors; Ellis Green a constant right-wing threat, delivering crosses from which Louis Sprosen twice miscued.
Eventually infiltrating Glebe lines, Storey’s side drew an impressive double-save from the experienced Phil Wilson, denying Regan Smith and a Matt Maclean follow-up to salvage his side from a misplaced Tolu Jonah pass.
Just two minutes later, the younger Smith turned goal-line saviour; again impressing from his left-back slot, preventing a certain goal from diminutive striker Luke Miller after deceptive left-wing interchange and a shimmy past Louis Rogers.
Sporting renewed second-half intent, in just the 48th minute the Uckers won immediate reward as Callum Smith latched onto a delicately chipped Maclean pass and, when rounding Wilson, was felled. Laden with the weight of expectation, however, the burly marksman’s resultant penalty agonisingly struck the outside of the right upright’s base.
Enforcing authority in the fallout, the hosts were denied a second spot-kick, with Smith again grounded while jinking into the box, but did not enjoy total dominance – Rogers parrying a near-post prod from Miller.
Opting to withdraw Smith and sacrifice a recognised striker, Storey’s own hour-mark introduction elicited the desired results. Suitably out of the blue, the match’s decisive moment arrived in the 72nd minute, as a Wilson goal kick fell short, allowing Bailo Camara to nip in with an inspired burst of speed, beating Jonah and poking home to rapturous, relieved, applause.
Though wary of a counter-attacking threat, Uckers nous ensured time elapsed as possession was retained; even a few chances arising as a teasing Okojie cross evaded Camara, and Regan Smith lifted over the crossbar.
After suffocation for the entirety of the half, Miller’s elation would have been profound had his 86th minute strike across Rogers not been ruled offside – rather than secure a replay, his involvement serving as the last act of resistance.
History makers at the young club, Anthony Storey was understandably delighted with his team: “Throughout the whole game I was really proud of them, they performed really well, every single of them. I thought they were absolutely terrific. You’ve got to turn up and perform on the day, so I’m really proud of the performance and everyone that makes it happen around the scenes – the players, the staff, everyone. I thought it was a well-deserved victory, a real solid team performance, so I’m over the moon.”
Invaluable prize money secured, alongside advancement to the Preliminary Round to later host Broadfields United, Uckfield return to league action hosting Loxwood this Saturday, kicking off at 3PM.
AFC Uckfield Town: Rogers, Norman, R. Smith, Hickman-Smith, Sheriff, Richie Welch (C), Okojie (Rodrigues-Barbosa, 90+3’), Cormack (Black, 90+1’), C. Smith (Storey, 65’), Maclean, Camara
Uckfield Chamber of Commerce man-of-the-match award – Regan Smith
ALL IMAGES by Ron Hill (HillPhotographic)