Uckers complete double over top two to make Senior Cup progress

Managing the occasion and the conditions of a rainy opening night of the 2019-20 Sussex Senior Cup, AFC Uckfield Town followed a win over high-flyers Lancing with another impressive result to turn over hosts Eastbourne Town, achieving one of the shocks of the First Round in a relatively comfortable 2-1 win, reports Will Hugall.

Though the Uckers would’ve perhaps expected more of their SCFL Premier Division-leading hosts on a damp evening at The Saffrons, they took full advantage of an unthreatening Town performance to score two simple first-half goals, with the only disappointment being to concede with the last kick of the game.

Taking the initiative from kick-off, the Uckers first threatened with Matt Rodrigues-Barbosa running at Michael Platt’s goal, where the home side’s ultras were absent for the evening in a disagreement with club officials.

Whether that proved a distraction to the hosts or not, there were no excuses for Uckfield’s opening goal in the 5th minute, as Ellis Cormack won a free kick on the edge of the box, and with a couple of decoy runners for distraction Bailo Camara struck through a gap into the bottom right corner.

Town took control of possession after the goal, but it remained Uckfield who had the better goalscoring chances as Matt Maclean had two chances, the first a difficult one from Camara’s by-line cross before being set through by Richie Welch in the second, only for Cole to clear.

The hosts could have easily been level when an unmarked Dan Perry headed over from Aaron Capon’s right-wing cross, but after that chance passed the half truly belonged to the Uckers.

As Camara was denied by Dan Rogers’ goal-line clearance after rounding Platt, Tayler Maddock had a header scrambled off the line and both Cormack and Rodrigues-Barbosa were frustrated, the Uckers could take comfort in their ability to create chances, but knew a second goal would be crucial.

That goal finally came in the 42nd minute, as Platt’s kick after denying a Rodrigues-Barbosa attempt only started another Uckers counter, with Maclean finding Camara and the winger poking through the ‘keeper’s legs to secure a comfortable half-time lead.

A more familiar Town performance followed the break, with Phil Hawkins forced to save with his feet early on from a Capon drive, although the Uckers refused to be quietened in attack as Cormack powered a half-volley straight at Platt.

The hosts were still being nullified by the Uckfield defence as the half reached its midway point, with a Perry header sailing into Hawkins’ gloves, Brad Pritchard’s central free kick striking the wall and Capon poking wide past the onrushing Hawkins as a comeback looked increasingly unlikely.

After Camara had a chance to wrap up victory on the counter but was eventually crowded out, Capon’s night got worse when he was booked for trying to draw a penalty from Hawkins, and Town grew desperate in the closing minutes.

Uckfield almost capitalised again to score a third, with Sam Cooper’s excellent performance almost capped with a goal as he set Camara away on the right and was inches away from meeting the resulting cross at the far post.

It was the hosts, however, who got the game’s only remaining goal in the 93rd minute, as Harry Colbran finished into the bottom right corner from a scramble in the box, and with the final whistle blown seconds later the Uckers’ progress was confirmed.

While the Uckers will have to wait for news of their Second Round opponents, with the draw date expected to be published soon on the @SussexCountyFA Twitter page, they will focus first on league action this Saturday, hosting Crawley Down Gatwick at The Oaks with a 3 p.m. kick-off.

AFC Uckfield Town: Hawkins, Rodrigues-Barbosa (Alexander, 90’), Cooper, Ryan Welch, Maddock, Richie Welch (C), Okojie, Maclean, Scott (Tomlin, 79’), Cormack, Camara

Unused: Storey, Loft, Baitup