With goals from Ellis Cormack and Mayckol Sabino and a Matt Black brace, AFC Uckfield Town ran out to a 4-1 win in their Extra Preliminary Round tie against Welling Town FC, a match hampered at times for both sides by difficult weather conditions, reports Will Hugall.
For two sides to have made significant progress in their short histories, it was the more experienced outfit that proved to have the advantage as a ruthless second-half performance from Uckfield took the game away from the Boots.
Indeed, the difference between the sides was made clear by two chances in the opening twelve minutes, as from the kick-off Gareth Jones could have easily taken advantage of questionable Uckers defending, forcing Phil Hawkins to save whilst one-on-one.
At the other end, a similar opening would result in the opening goal of the game, as a move starting from a Hawkins goal kick found Matt Black, who exploited poor positioning from the Boots’ defence before sidestepping goalkeeper Jack Moore and firing into an empty net.
The hosts rallied, and after Jordan Thompson blazed over from the right of the box, another chance saw the striker find his range, only for Hawkins to again make a strong save diving to his right.
Uckfield toiled with possession as the half continued, but with the hosts themselves struggling – set pieces aside – to make an impact in the swirling winds over East London, the half ended with little to choose between the sides.
Fortunately, the second-half started much more promisingly, with Regan Smith and Bailo Camara combining to find Black, who prodded over at the far post, and Thompson profiting from a cross the Uckers had failed to clear, but having his shot cleared off the line by Ryan Welch.
When a second goal arrived, however, it was from as innocuous a situation as the first. As a move in the 57th minute found its way to Dee Okojie, the winger delivered a cross from the right to Ellis Cormack, who was unmarked to place a header into the left of Moore’s goal.
While Boots defender Peter Ojemen headed a Beckett corner onto Hawkins’ crossbar, and the hosts chanced their arm with a triple substitution, Uckfield would rally again, scoring a decisive third in the 67th minute. In a move dependent on Camara’s quick-thinking response to a wide Hawkins goal kick, the winger’s one-two with Cormack set him away before a cross was half-cleared, allowing Mayckol Sabino to pick his spot with a finish into the bottom left corner.
A hint of Uckers complacency would, however, be punished by Elyon Marshall-Katung in the 81st minute, with the busy forward going unchallenged as he drove forward from midfield before eventually blasting a well-placed shot into the bottom left corner.
While the remaining minutes would mostly consist of Uckers defending as fans from both sides gathered for shelter from driving rain, an 89th-minute breakaway would see the Uckers seal victory through Black, who won possession on the halfway line, beat Hassan Oshilaja and again rounded Moore before passing into the net for a final flourish.
By achieving only the second Extra Preliminary Round victory in their history, Uckfield progress to face another South-East London side, VCD Athletic, in a fortnight’s time for a place in the First Qualifying Round.
Before that, the Uckers return to action at The Oaks as they host Newhaven in the SCFL Premier next Saturday at 3 p.m.
AFC Uckfield Town: Hawkins, Rodrigues-Barbosa, Smith, Ryan Welch, Maddock, Richie Welch (C), Okojie (Maclean, 63’), Sabino (Baitup, 72’), Black, Cormack, Camara (Pearson, 76’)
Unused: Loft, James, Veneti
Images – (c) Dave Cumberbatch, – https://www.davec.photos/
Thanks to Welling Town and Dave for use of his images.