In a game that rarely reflected such a scoreline, AFC Uckfield Town ran out to a 6-1 thrashing of managerless Langney Wanderers as a second-half attacking masterclass saw them put their Eastbourne opponents out of sight to complete a successful Bank Holiday weekend, reports Will Hugall.
Although they were the first to concede and struggled to level before half-time, once the returning Callum Smith netted in added-time for the Uckers the second-half proved to be a definitive show of dominance, with five players getting on the scoresheet in a Priory Lane mauling.
Without the Saturday cup commitments that the Uckers had to manage, Langney’s urgency shone through in the early stages as Gary Ingram’s pace caused several issues, and unsurprisingly proved a decisive factor in the game’s opening goal.
With the winger drawing a foul from Regan Smith, a free-kick from the right found Shane Saunders, who despite having a first attempt parried by Phil Hawkins, scrambled in with a second try after 14 minutes.
Seemingly content to protect their lead, Langney did not threaten after their goal, allowing the Uckers to dictate play almost uninterrupted. Showing flashes of the tenacity that made him a key figure last season, Callum Smith forced the first significant save from Dan Hutchins with a stinging half-volley to the goalkeeper’s left, whilst frustration resulted when Matt Maclean was twice blocked from close range and Ellis Cormack headed over the bar from a corner when unmarked.
As the hosts lost concentration just before half-time, however, Smith would capitalise, making amends for an offside call a minute earlier when, in the 47th minute, he set off from a ball played between both centre-backs, rounding Hutchins and cutting back inside the recovering Mike Ginno before tapping into the empty net for a high-quality equaliser.
While narrow misses for both sides followed the restart, in the 56th minute it would again be Smith who provided a decisive finish to put the Uckers in front, with Bailo Camara running clear after Max Hollobone overpowered a cross, eventually powering past Peter Featherstone and dinking a cross over Hutchins as Smith headed in, again into an open net.
A more open game emerged after the goal, and as in the previous two goals, it was the Uckers who profited from this, with Liam Baitup peeling off his marker at the far post to head in a glorious Matt Maclean cross in the 67th minute, before Camara then tore through the home defence to drill a finish through Hutchins in the 69th minute, quickly taking the Uckers’ tally to four.
Taking advantage of the lead, Anthony Storey shuffled his pack and offered those introduced a clear attacking licence, attempting to maintain a tempo the hosts were finding it harder to deal with. In the two remaining moves of real note, this plan worked out to perfection.
With both goals being set up by the irrepressible Camara, in the 81st minute a ball poked through to Mayckol Sabino saw the midfielder connect sweetly with a first-time slice into the bottom left corner, before fellow substitute Tyler Pearson also left Hutchins stranded with his first Uckers goal, firing accurately into the bottom right in the 90th minute.
Benefiting from a bye to the 2nd Round of the FA Vase, the Uckers are instead involved with the opening rounds of another competition – the SCFA RUR Cup – this Saturday, with a 2nd Round tie at Horsham YMCA, kicking off at 3 p.m.
AFC Uckfield Town: Hawkins, Okojie, R. Smith, Ryan Welch, Sherriff, Richie Welch (C) (Sabino, 75’), Baitup (Pearson, 75’), Maclean, C. Smith (Black, 65’), Cormack, Camara
Unused: Maddock, Loft