Uckfield laid down a real statement of intent in the first of their league games in hand, exploiting each of their hosts’ weaknesses and romping to a 5-0 victory at Arundel after a delayed kick-off, reports Will Hugall.
Following a disappointing second result in the previous week’s double-header with Peacehaven, losing 2-1 in the league, the Uckers were strengthened by four changes as Calum Sherriff, Ellis Cormack and Dee Okojie returned, and Brett Patton made his first start of the season.
Despite the requirement for a fifteen-minute delay to kick-off, the Uckers began the brighter of the two sides. Wide duo Bailo Camara and Dee Okojie dominated the chances, as the former had two rasping drives well defended by the Mullets backline, while the latter produced a number of teasing crosses before himself firing just wide from the edge of the 18-yard box.
In the 20th minute, an opening goal arrived as reward for the visitors’ efforts, as Okojie profited from a misplaced defensive pass and laid off to makeshift forward Matt Maclean, who comfortably poked over recently-installed home goalkeeper Luke Munt.
Mistakes in the unfamiliar home rearguard continued, and further waves of Uckers pressure were happy to oblige on the offer of a second goal in the 29th minute, as a cross was cleared only as far as Camara, who turned inside on the left wing and sent in a cross, which evaded Maclean’s jump, but enabled Ellis Cormack to track in behind and stab in at the far post.
Towards the half’s close, a Mullets mini-recovery allowed top goalscorer Ben Gray – playing at left-back – to prise a first save from Louis Rogers, who tipped over high at his near post. Nonetheless, by stopping well again from Maclean and Okojie, Munt remained the busier of the two goalkeepers at half-time.
Asserting their authority at the restart, Uckfield prevented their hosts from gathering initiative, and in the 56th minute trebled their lead. As Rogers played upfield to Cormack on the right wing, the midfielder squared to the edge of the box, where Camara took a touch and fired into the bottom left corner.
With the Mullets unable to cope with the pace of a rampant Uckers frontline, in the 65th minute their hopes of a comeback had been crushed. As Camara burst down the right to latch back onto an aggressive touch, from his cross he found Okojie for an inadvertent assist to Maclean, who swooped in after Munt parried.
Flashing a delivery across the face of goal, Okojie tried to find Cormack in the 72nd minute, but as the ball overran was returned the favour, and was unmarked at the far post to rifle in a half-volleyed finish.
While Cormack could have added his second after firing into a stricken Munt, at the opposite end Rogers was alert to earn his first clean sheet in ten matches after racing out to smother Ash Hawkes, and diving backwards to tip Liam Brady’s speculative strike around his post.
Rising to 12th with victory, Uckfield next travel to Lancing this Saturday with the aim of making further league headway, kicking off at 3PM at Culver Road,
AFC Uckfield Town: Rogers, Rodrigues-Barbosa (Bartlett, 81’), R. Smith, Maddocks, Sherriff, Welch (C), Okojie, Patton, Maclean, Cormack (Overton, 79’), Camara (Broomfield, 76’)
Unused: Mici, Storey