In the Sussex Senior Cup Second Round, Uckfield’s visit to Worthing proved a match too far in their recent heroic exploits as the bridge of two divisions told in a 6-2 defeat for the Uckers, who played with ten men for the entirety of the second half, reports Will Hugall.
After another record-breaking victory in the FA Vase the previous weekend, as the seven men of Uckfield saw out a 2-1 win at AFC Croydon Athletic, one change to the Uckers side saw Ryan Welch replace Matt Rodrigues-Barbosa.
Adapting quickly to the conditions, Uckfield’s rigid organisation presented the hosts with difficulties establishing dominance, and Callum Smith struck the best early chance, a low free-kick, inches wide.
Under intensifying pressure, the Uckfield backline momentarily buckled in the 28th minute, with a weak clearance forcing Sam Cooper into fouling fleet-footed forward David Ajiboye. From 20 yards, home captain Sam Rents broke the deadlock with a trademark set-piece strike curling past Louis Rogers.
As further pressure sapped Uckers energy, Reece Meekums’ attempt to add a quick-fire second was vitally blocked, and Richie Welch cleared from the line to prevent Ajiboye converting from a fast-paced counter-attack.
On the stroke of half-time, however, hopes of an Uckfield recovery were dashed, as a Cooper challenge ten yards within his own half on Meekums was deemed reckless, and punished with a sending-off.
Beginning what seemed a second-half onslaught, a smart touch from Worthing right-back Alex Parsons slipped Meekums into space at the by-line in the 50th minute, before the striker found partner Zack Newton to convert.
Just three minutes later, Camara restored faint Uckfield hopes by meeting Dee Okojie’s right-wing free-kick with a flicked header, and beating home goalkeeper Kleton Perntpeou.
Rallying at the hour mark, the rampant hosts netted twice, through Meekums and Ajiboye. Overlapping his fellow former Brighton trainee, the former rounded Rogers and blasted home in the 56th minute, while the latter was the profiteer of Meekums’ powerful run and squared pass to slot into an open goal after 62 minutes.
Given a free rein by their deficit, Uckfield began to experiment, and Steve Hickman-Smith was unfortunate not to convert a floated Okojie trick play free-kick as Perntpeou saved.
Themselves in a position to rotate, the hosts demonstrated their strength in depth in the closing stages, as striker Hayden Skerry struck the post, and assisted Meekums for the striker’s brace, blasting home at Rogers’ near-post in the 82nd minute.
Matt Maclean did restore Uckers pride after 84 minutes, as Camara found his run in behind the Rebels defence to coolly slot home with his fifth goal in four matches. A sixth for the hosts closed the action, as Jared Rance crashed home from an impossible angle at the by-line.
Back in SCFL Premier Division action, the Uckers travel to 2nd-placed Horsham YMCA this Saturday, kicking off at 3PM at Gorings Mead.
AFC Uckfield Town: Rogers, Ryan Welch (Norman, 74’), R. Smith, Hickman-Smith, Cooper, Richie Welch (C), Okojie, Cormack, C. Smith (Rodrigues-Barbosa, 74’), Maclean, Camara
Unused: Bartlett, Hales, Storey