In their second cup Semi-Final in a week, AFC Uckfield Town couldn’t repeat earlier success and were knocked out of the RUR Cup by hosts Peacehaven & Telscombe, who won a tie of few chances by capitalising on two errors midway through the second half, reports Will Hugall.
Three Uckfield changes from the team that fell to an added-time defeat at league leaders Chichester City the Saturday beforehand saw the return of Steve Hickman-Smith and Sam Cooper to central defence, whilst Tigana Quebé was handed a debut out wide.
Stating their intent from an early stage, a well-drilled Peacehaven side with confidence in possession were typified by full-back Felipe Lira and winger Callum Hart’s connection, with the latter driving a ball across the box for Tyler Scrafton, who struck a low shot at Louis Rogers.
The Uckers grew into the tie, however, and Quebé – a former Guinea-Bissau Under-23 international – added further skill and energy to threatening counter-attacks.
Increasing their pressure as the half progressed, Uckfield’s attack began to hid their stride, as Quebe almost connected to a Matt Maclean shot shading past the left post of Alieu Secka’s goal, and after a header from Hickman-Smith was cleared from the Tye line, Ryan Welch tested his range by slicing just wide after running onto a Bailo Camara cross.
Saving possibly the half’s best chance until last, Peacehaven broke through Jake Brocklebank, who delivered a cross into captain Reilly Grant six yards from goal. Producing an athletic save, Rogers held on well whilst diving to his right to make sure Hart couldn’t convert the rebound.
A quiet start to the second half saw Uckfield’s control in possession fail to materialise into any serious chances, as set-pieces and crosses lacked the consistency to concern Secka.
Signalling greater intent for the Uckers, Callum Smith’s introduction was imminent, but as soon as the change took place, a 66th minute opener from Peacehaven began to take the game away. From a cross from the left, striker Curtis Ford’s header seemed destined for the bottom right corner, but struck the post, and in the ensuing rush Brocklebank reacted quickest, finding Ford in space from 10 yards to clinically tap home.
The goal sparked the game to life, and only minutes later Okojie was found unmarked at the right of the six-yard box before scuffing a strike on goal, while Smith ran in behind the Tye defence and struck across the goalmouth.
As they buckled in defence at the other end, Uckfield failed to clear after Hickman-Smith had extinguished a chance from a Ford knock-down. A fierce 20-yard strike from Brocklebank followed, and though Rogers met it with a superb punch away to his right, Scrafton’s reactions were critically swift to head in the loose ball, condemning the Uckers to a two-goal deficit with ten minutes remaining.
Despite further attacking changes, Uckfield could not stage the recovery required, and could do little to avoid handing the home defence their fourth consecutive clean sheet en route to the final, where they will face Haywards Heath Town.
Uckfield return to action this Saturday, as they begin a run of four home matches in their next five games by hosting in-form Lancing, with a 3PM kick-off.
AFC Uckfield Town: Rogers, Ryan Welch, Rodrigues-Barbosa, Hickman-Smith, Cooper, Richie Welch (C), Okojie (Mici, 81’), Patton, Maclean (C. Smith, 65’), Quebé (Tomlin, 81’), Camara
Unused: Norman, R. Smith