In an entertaining, high-stakes affair, Uckfield kept the threat of fellow mid-table side Lancing at arm’s length while finishing three second-half chances, and achieved consecutive league victories for only the second time this season, reports Will Hugall.
Kick-starting their league form with a 5-0 away win at Arundel in midweek, the Uckers named an unchanged starting line-up for only the second time in their season for the visit to Culver Road.
With both sides struggling for league fluency after finishing as the final two SCFL sides in the FA Cup earlier in the season, a shared intent to pull away from mid-table was immediately clear. After Ellis Cormack produced the first strike, firing past the post from 20 yards, home captain Alex Bygraves glanced a header wide in a run forward from defence.
Each defence stood firm, however, and as the half progressed Uckfield wingers Bailo Camara and Dee Okojie were left unrewarded for tireless creativity, while the closest Lancing came was a short-lived penalty shout for Brad Peters.
After Matt Maclean had forced Hemmat Ovaisi into two crucial saves, to prevent a shot bound for the bottom right corner and then to smother a close-range scramble at the resulting corner, Camara closed the half by waltzing inside and firing wide of the post.
Carrying their momentum on at the restart, Uckfield broke the deadlock in the 48th minute. As Okojie drew a foul on the right of the 18-yard box and sent in a dangerous free-kick, Cormack’s far-post header was blocked out to Brett Patton, whose looped pass back in was met by Calum Sherriff, as the centre-back diverted in for his first goal of the season.
Riding out further Uckers pressure, the home defence had given their offensive counterparts the opportunity to counter, but in the half-hour that followed, it was instead Uckfield who retained control.
As the Lancers were fortunate to avoid punishment for their lax passing, Camara threatened a second goal when he raced onto a Maclean pass and opened space between himself and two defenders, but Ovaisi came up with a commanding stop.
In the 80th minute, a Lancing double substitution represented a final roll of the dice, but was immediately made redundant. To seal an Uckfield victory, an all-too-simple finish came from Maclean, who could walk in on the goal line after Okojie laid on a cross from the right, beating every defender.
Adding a deserved gloss, in the 88th minute Uckfield rounded off as Cormack charged inside and wrapped his right foot around a shot, beating Ovaisi, who saw the ball spill out of his grasp and roll over the line.
At the start of another important week, Uckfield welcome Hassocks to The Oaks this Tuesday in the SCFL Premier Division, with a 7:30PM kick-off.
AFC Uckfield Town: Rogers, Rodrigues-Barbosa, R. Smith, Maddock, Sherriff, Welch (C), Okojie (Mici, 83’), Patton, Maclean (Norman, 88’), Cormack, Camara
Unused: Storey, Creese