After making the long trip to Hellenic League side Binfield, AFC Uckfield Town’s ambitions in the 2019-20 FA Vase came to an end at the Third Round stage with an abrupt 4-0 defeat; a match where despite early chances, they were never really able to get going, reports Will Hugall.
Despite being the more recent of the two to last appear at the Fourth Round, the Uckers were overwhelmed on a rare off-day in Berkshire, being unable to respond to a first-half penalty before fading in the second half, as another spot-kick and two goals from corners saw the clinical hosts to victory.
Traffic issues caused a delayed kick-off just off the M4, but far from being a hindrance for the travelling Uckers, they were able to make an encouraging start in the circumstances.
Between chances snuffed out for Liam Baitup, who almost met a Bailo Camara cross, and Ellis Cormack – as the midfielder found Matt Maclean – a crucial moment came early on as Matt Rodrigues-Barbosa was fouled by home goalkeeper Chris Grace outside the box; the Uckers disappointed Grace was only handed a booking.
Binfield, who had never previously lost an FA Cup or Vase match to Sussex opposition from four ties, grew into the match beyond the half-hour, and soon would capitalise on their chance to take the lead.
Very much a one-man effort, the opening goal came in the 37th minute as Josh Howell burst into the Uckers’ box and was taken down from behind. Taking the responsibility himself for the resulting spot-kick, Howell stepped up and made Hawkins guess incorrectly, blasting past Hawkins’ dive to the right with a central finish.
While the hosts could’ve quickly doubled their lead before half-time – a far-post header going wide in the dying minutes – it was after the interval, and not allowing the Uckers to compose themselves for a big 45 minutes, that they began to truly accelerate.
In the 50th minute, a goal that proved to drain any Uckers momentum came from Moles captain Sean Moore as Howell whipped in a corner; Moore, stretching for the ball above the leap of Cormack, headed in for his 15th goal in cup competitions this season.
In their attempts to stabilise after the goal, the Uckers were solid without being able to push on, creating an issue in creating chances that proved increasingly frustrating as the Moles continued to perform superbly.
Reacting positively to the pressure that did arrive, Moles boss Roger Herridge allowed his side to chase a decisive goal, and introduced a number of substitutions accordingly.
In that hope, forward Jemel Johnson did not disappoint for his manager, as in the 72nd minute he latched onto a through ball, and one-on-one with Hawkins forced the Uckers goalkeeper to take him down. With referee Declan O’Shea again pointing to the spot, Howell repeated his earlier trick for his second, and his side’s third.
The Uckers’ hopes were finally ended, if not earlier, then with another blow just three minutes later, as Howell was again involved, with outswinging corner squirming through to Josh Helmore, who directed a finish through bodies and past Hawkins at his left post.
Despite the best efforts of Anthony Storey’s side, the remaining minutes were played out relatively comfortably for the hosts, and with no clear-cut chances remaining for either side, the hosts could celebrate their place in the last 32.
While the Uckers will certainly be disappointed not to match their 2018-19 Fourth Round appearance in the Vase, they will be keen to put this exit behind them as they travel to National League South side Eastbourne Borough, this Tuesday, in the Sussex Senior Cup 3rd Round.
The action kicks off at 7:45 p.m. at Priory Lane, and with the Uckers entering as underdogs, your support would be hugely appreciated for the Uckers as they search for a significant upset in Sussex football’s most historic and prestigious competition.
A full preview will be available here on Uckfield FM before the match, covering all the stats and history of both sides in the competition, so with plenty of important matches approaching, watch out for all upcoming Uckers coverage in what should be an exciting month for the club.
AFC Uckfield Town: Hawkins, Rodrigues-Barbosa (Norman, 82’), Cooper, Ryan Welch, Maddock, Richie Welch (C), Okojie, Maclean (Smith, 70’), Baitup (Ovenden, 89’), Cormack, Camara
Unused: Loft, Storey