AFC Uckfield progress into quarter finals in style
Achieving some of their most fluent attacking form of the season, Uckfield powered through visitors Loxwood with six goals to make further cup progress by reaching the Fourth Round of the Peter Bentley Cup, reports Will Hugall.
Following a clinical 2-0 victory in their FA Vase tie at Tunbridge Wells, the Uckers made two changes, as Ryan Welch and captain Richie Welch slotted into the backline in place of Calum Sherriff and Bright Temba.
Starting with clear intent, a first Uckers chance came through Sam Cooper, who was met with a double save from Magpies goalkeeper Liam Matthews. After only eight minutes, an opening goal swiftly followed, a Regan Smith swept set-piece in from the right, and Ellis Cormack turned a header in – or so it seemed, as Sam Cooper later claimed to have the final touch – one for the dubious goals committee to decide on.
Although Loxwood striker Michael Wood soon struck Louis Rogers’ crossbar from a ball across the box, in the 15th minute the clinical Uckers strengthened their lead. Okojie was the scorer, with a dazzling piece of trickery to turn both Magpies centre-backs, and a strike, from the edge of the box, placed just out of Matthews’ reach in the bottom left corner.
Capping a fine first 45 minutes, and after missing a chance when firing back across goal, Okojie bagged his second three minutes from half-time, as Matt Maclean broke through the Magpies backline to the by-line, and played across the goalmouth for a far-post tap-in.
Returning with little to lose, Loxwood launched into attack and restored hope by scoring just two minutes into the second half, as winger Tom Frankland crossed in from the right by-line, and Ryan Welch was unfortunate to divert into his own net.
Whilst rushing their passing, the Magpies proved unable to seize further opportunity – even as the Uckers were unable to replicate their own first-half accuracy.
The hosts restored their dominance beyond the hour mark, as Maclean powered a header wide, and Cooper miscued with only Matthews to beat after a Maclean header fell kindly for him.
In the 70th minute, Maclean added the vital fourth goal with an improvised two-yard backheel to convert after Steve Hickman-Smith beat a Matthews punch from a floated corner.
After 73 minutes, Bailo Camara slammed home a fifth; shaping up to a loose ball that broke from a blocked Maclean shot, as fearsome pace left Matthews unable to parry the strike.
While Okojie was denied his hat-trick by a fine save, after a step-over and lifted effort, in the 90th minute Matt Rodrigues-Barbosa took the opportunity to round off the scoring – albeit only as Camara shot at Matthews, who parried the ball into the wingers path.
With the victory, the Uckers confirmed their place in the last eight of the cup, securing a Fourth Round home tie against Peacehaven & Telscombe FC. Back in league action this Saturday, Uckfield welcome SCFL Premier Division leaders Chichester City to The Oaks, with a 3PM kick-off.
Team: Rogers, Ryan Welch, R. Smith (Norman, 79’), Hickman-Smith, Richie Welch (C), Cormack, Okojie, Rodrigues-Barbosa, Cooper (Hales, 88’), Maclean (Storey, 79’), Camara
Unused: Loft, Bartlett
The Loxwood keeper had a busy time retrieving the ball from back of his net!
All Images – Mike Skinner