Demonstrating quality and professionalism, a much-changed AFC Uckfield Town side exercised an overwhelming first-half over visitors Littlehampton Town and sealed RUR Cup progress to extend recent winning records,
Featuring five alterations from the line-up that impressed in a 5-0 FA Vase victory over Southwick – with Craig Norman, Sam Cooper, Ellis Cormack, Dee Okojie and Bright Temba re-introduced – sweeping changes ensured fitness for the Uckers’ upcoming FA Cup involvement.
Having blasted over the crossbar from the opening move, in just the 8th minute Regan Smith swiftly amended his sights to open the Uckfield scoring; Matt Black capitalising on the Marigolds’ failure to clear a Cooper throw-in, bursting away and squaring for the attacking midfielder, who overcame a loose first touch to produce a snap-shot that sailed past Ben Purkis.
Victims to an attacking tirade, the Littlehampton backline were left as bystanders as Callum Smith and Cooper fired in emphatically, and an intuitive Black pass allowed Temba to side-foot beyond Purkis, but only find the side-netting.
As the diminutive Pat Rose’s excellent touch, flash of trickery and lay-off to striker Paul Elliott worked an invaluable opening, a rash lunge in the Uckers rear-guard rewarded the visitors with a 23rd minute penalty. Preserving his clean sheet and spot-kick records, however, Louis Rogers’ two-handed stop – instinctively launching to his right – denied Will Lintott.
Reinstating Uckers’ authority, Black and Temba forced a double goal-line clearance before the half-hour, while Callum Smith ensured his goalscoring exploits continued with a pivotal second; slipped through by a long ball out from defence, and though a little loose with his penultimate touch, poking under Purkis from point-blank range after 36 minutes.
Building on late first-half foundations, the Division One outfit returned with an intent to play to a more settled passing rhythm. An hour-mark corner and smart reaction save from Rogers to Lawrence Edwards’ back post header aside, attempts were nonetheless rendered toothless, with little aerial presence.
In the closing minutes, efforts flagged, and Temba’s frustration continued after blasting into Purvis’ shins.
In the third minute of added time, however, the forward curtailed his barren spell in fine style; dinking over Purvis from 10 yards out, after emerging into an unmarked position while penning the visitors in their own half.
While assuring an away fixture in the Third Round, at either Newhaven or Wick FC, victory also secured an unbelievable ninth consecutive win in all competitions for the Uckers – who have not conceded a goal from open play for over 562 minutes, and who have suffered only four competitive defeats in the entire 2018 calendar year.
In the final of a trilogy of consecutive home cup ties, National League South side Dartford FC arrive at The Oaks this Saturday for a wholly unprecedented FA Cup Second Qualifying Round match, kicking off at 3pm.
AFC Uckfield Town: Rogers, Norman, Cooper, Hickman-Smith (C), Sheriff, Cormack, Okojie (Rodrigues-Barbosa, 68’), R. Smith, C. Smith (Loft, 75’), Black (Janneh, 49’), Temba. Unused: Maclean, Bartlett