Uckers left to rue missed chances in YM defeat

Matt Maclean - goal scorer for Uckers

Despite controlling for long spells and creating countless winning opportunities, AFC Uckfield Town were unable to secure victory from a high-quality midweek game with Horsham YMCA, as the visitors came away with all three points in a 2-1 win, reports Will Hugall.

Although two Matt Daniel goals proved to be the difference between the sides, the tale could have been much different in an extremely close game, as Uckfield simply did not have the fortune to match their creativity and kick on after Matt Maclean’s superb first-half equaliser.

The game got off to a pulsating start, and in 6th minute YM clinically took the lead as Jack Ryder met a ball on the left, beating Tayler Maddock and squaring to strike partner Matt Daniel, who thrashed beyond Phil Hawkins.

The Uckers struck back, and with Bailo Camara beginning an evening of torment for full-back Ash Wadhams an early cross threatened to put Dee Okojie in, only to be denied by an offside flag.

In the 15th minute, the equaliser did arrive in spectacular fashion, as Sam Cooper’s cross-field pass found Camara and the winger beat Wadhams before crossing into the box, where Maclean took the ball down and let fly with an overhead kick past Aaron Jeal, decisively levelling the scores.

Under considerable pressure, the visitors stayed true to their passing game and were almost rewarded with another goal straight after, as a well-worked move forced Cooper to prevent an open goal after colliding with Hawkins on the edge of the box, while Ryder was foiled twice when almost one-on-one with Hawkins.

The remaining chances before half-time were almost entirely Uckfield’s, with Maddock and Liam Baitup almost combining to convert a corner, Camara having a header saved by Jeal when set clean through and Maddock and Cormack teeing each other up for headers that threatened the target.

While half time approached with the chance of leading appearing slim, Camara came closer than anyone else in the 43rd minute, as a fascinating cross-field race with Wadhams to the right of the YM box ended with Camara crashing an attempt past Jeal, only for the ball to cannon back off the crossbar.

The game’s pace continued after the restart, with the better of the play probably belonging to the visitors, although Welch still came close with a shot charged down at the edge of the box by the YM defence.

Space opened up more significantly after the hour mark, and a shot blasted just wide from Baitup was quickly followed by a rapid counter-attacking move from YM, as Lewis Taylor had a shot crucially blocked by Welch.

The Uckers continued to pour forward, with two of Camara’s crosses causing Baitup and Maclean to go close and Cooper firing at Jeal, while into the last ten minutes the returning Gianfranco Mici almost provided an immediate impact, only lacking enough power to beat Jeal with a drive towards the bottom-left corner.

YM responded on the counter, and Tony Nwachukwu was unlucky to prod wide when Daniel delivered a cross that cut out the Uckfield defence.

In the 85th minute, however, Daniel would strike the decisive blow, as Nwachukwu delivered into the box and the resulting pinball saw the striker strike first-time at Hawkins, force Okojie to scramble off the line with the rebound, and finally tap in at the third time of asking with no Uckers defender close to him.

Despite the Uckers’ best attempts to grab a late equaliser, no significant chances remained in the match and the visitors saw out victory.

The Uckers remain 11th in the SCFL Premier Division after the result, but this Saturday will aim to return to winning ways as they make the trip to 2nd-placed Lancing FC, kicking off at 3 p.m. at Culver Road.

AFC Uckfield Town: Hawkins, Rodrigues-Barbosa (Smith, 69’), Cooper (Scott, 87’), Sherriff, Maddock, Richie Welch (C), Okojie, Maclean, Baitup (Mici, 79’), Cormack, Camara

Unused: Ryan Welch, Loft