AFC Uckfield Town achieved a fifth consecutive league win in 2019 and leapt up to 7th in the SCFL Premier Division with victory at Langney Wanderers, scoring at both ends of the first half and bagging a wonderful third before surviving a final 20 minutes with ten men, reports Will Hugall.
For the second consecutive week, the Uckers came into the match with an unchanged team as Anthony Storey kept faith with a side who had scored 11 goals in their previous two games, and Callum Smith returned from suspension to make the bench.
Within two minutes, Uckfield were one up at Priory Lane, with Steve Hickman-Smith taking up an unmarked position in the Wanderers box and exposing the home defence, meeting Regan Smith’s corner to direct into the far netting.
Having dropped 16 points from winning positions at home this season, Langney’s false start was an unfamiliar one, but their recovery was immediate. While a number of recent signings clicked, Paul Rogers continued to hold the greatest threat, threading a ball through to Oshaye Hutchinson before Matt Rodrigues-Barbosa made a vital interception.
Although several officiating decisions made for a more argumentative contest, some quality moves from both teams ensured focus returned. Richard Pingling wasted an opportunity to test Louis Rogers, unsighted by the low winter sun, from a free-kick, whilst working hard for their chances, Brett Patton shot wide for the Uckers.
In the final minute of the half, Uckfield patience was rewarded and hesitance from the hosts punished as Bailo Camara (pictured) bagged the second goal. A ball from left seeking out his run, Camara used a bounce over defender Peter Featherstone and goalkeeper Dan Hutchins to swoop, and caressed a finish into the open net.
As the second half continued in much the same vein, the Uckers continued to manage their lead, and in the 55th minute added a fantastic third through Dee Okojie. Running onto Rodrigues-Barbosa’s pass 20 yards from goal, the winger attacked the box before delivering an unexpected shot, one which looped over Hutchins’ outstretched glove and dipped beautifully under the crossbar to leave the hosts stunned.
With Langney morale dropping, Uckfield could have added to their advantage as Ellis Cormack fired wide, before in another chance Maclean slipped a pass through to Camara, only for Hutchins to spread himself wide and deny the shot.
As Cormack and Patton missed the rebound from Camara’s effort, Langney’s break was led by Trevor McCreadie, who pinched possession on the half-way line and drew a foul from the previously booked Tayler Maddock. Failing to win the ball, Maddock was awarded his second yellow, and with just over 20 minutes remaining, the Uckers were reduced to ten men.
Langney struggled to make their numerical advantage pay initially, but in the 80th minute Uckers resistance could not prevent substitute Tyler Capon from popping up to convert a left-wing cross from Gary Ingram, beating Rogers to the left of the goal.
As Callum Smith proved a nuisance to the Wanderers backline, the striker may well have had a goal of his own on two occasions, as Richie Welch’s return ball at a counter was too close to Hutchins, and the goalkeeper came off victorious at a one-on-one, before Leon Moore was also denied from an added-time chance provided by Smith.
In a rearranged RUR Cup 4th Round tie, the Uckers make the long trip to Pagham this Tuesday, kicking off at 7:30PM. Peacehaven & Telscombe await the winners in the Semi-Finals.
AFC Uckfield Town: Rogers, Rodrigues-Barbosa, R. Smith, Hickman-Smith, Maddock, Richie Welch (C), Okojie (Moore, 90+1’), Patton, Maclean (C. Smith, 74’), Cormack (Cooper, 78’), Camara
Unused: Mici, Ryan Welch