SCFL Premier Division Sat 28 September Culver Road
AFC Uckfield
  • McClean (14')

Lancing loss ends unbeaten run

Lancing’s first defeat of the season, in normal time, came at the hands of AFC Uckfield at a windswept Culver Road yesterday as a below par Lancing performance and a good rear-guard display from our visitors proved enough to take all three points. Lancing came into the match with the last remaining unbeaten record at Step 5 in the country and that clearly inspired an Uckfield team currently sitting in mid-table but who had not lost to Lancing since December 2016 when a paltry crowd of 25 saw the Lancers run out 3-1 winners.

Despite missing Tom Caplin, Josh Coupar, Alex Fair and James Beresford, who heads off to Reading for a six week trial on Tuesday, and Omar Bukleb’s flight delay resulting in him arriving only 10 minutes before kick-off, the match started with Lancing’s usual passing game, but this was quickly broken up by a number of niggling fouls from Uckfield which resulted in a booking as early as the 7th minute when Uckfield captain Richie Welch was shown yellow for a pull back on Mo Juwara just as Lancing looked to quickly break. Despite early dominance the first shot of any note came from Uckfield’s Taylor Maddock when his free kick from distance sailed harmlessly over the bar. Uckfield’s next attack of note would, however, prove to be more decisive. A good through ball saw Matt Maclean run onto the pass and his low shot found the bottom corner. 1-0 to Uckfield and plenty to do for the Lancers.

Bailo Camara was causing us particular problems down the right-hand side and Mo needed to be on his game throughout to stop him. Despite this it was Camara who had the next chance shortly afterwards when he cut inside and shot just over Taylor Seymour’s goal. The match then settled into a pattern with Lancing having lots of the ball and passing it around nicely without being able to penetrate an Uckfield defence that was camped on their 18-yard line. Indeed, it was Uckfield who had the best chances with Camara, again, trying his luck from distance after 27 minutes and, just a minute later, Taylor needing to be alert to save with his feet following another dangerous through-ball.

Just after the half hour Uckfield’s Liam Baitup was sent to the dugout for swearing at the linesman who had flagged him offside. With Baitup being at least two yards off it was difficult to see what had got him so upset but with a ten-minute numerical advantage Lancing went about trying to increase the pressure on the Uckfield defence. A passage of play which saw Lancing retain possession for at least two minutes was broken up by Uckfield’s Ellis Cormack who, using the advantage of the wind at his back, tried his luck from all of 55 yards. Taylor Seymour, back peddling, slipped and saw the ball sail over his head and, to a collective sigh of relief from the Lancing faithful, wide of the post. An audacious effort that drew applause from home and away supporters alike and a timely reminder that Uckfield still possessed a threat in front of goal – even if the ball was in their own half!

On 38 minutes Liam Hendy broke through the Uckfield line and carried on running with the ball, a tactic which seemed most likely to break the visitor’s resistance. A good exchange of passes saw Hendy break into the box but, just as it looked like the equaliser was coming, a last-ditch tackle halted his progress.

The first half ended with Uckfield back to full strength and leading 1-0 in what was, in truth, a disappointing first half for the yellows but with the wind behind us in the second half there was still plenty to be positive about. Mo and George Fenton were making inroads on the flanks and debutant Matt Berridge was looking lively in midfield. The second half kicked off in a similar way to the first with Maddock entering the referee’s notebook two minutes after the restart.

After 51 minutes a lovely passage of possession resulted in Kane Louis lifting the ball into the box but the ball just failed to fall to the onrushing Lewis Finney. It was Lew again shortly afterwards who jinked through the Uckfield defence but his shot came to nothing. After a string of unpunished fouls from Uckfield the referee booked Camara, who was having a much quieter second half, after 57 minutes. Shortly after a long throw into the box saw the ball nodded on by Kane but it wouldn’t quite fall for Matt Berridge and again Uckfield cleared their lines.

Just before the hour Mitch Hewens replaced another debutant, Brad Santos, as Lancing continued to push for the equaliser and it was Mitch who was fouled on the left-hand side, just outside of the box, which led to Lew striking the resulting free kick into the wall and Berridge’s follow up shot parried by the keeper.

Despite the match being almost all one-way traffic at this point Uckfield did still look dangerous on the break and forced a corner after 73 minutes. A low cross was met by an Uckfield striker who, from 12 yards, managed to shoot over the bar and the fencing behind the goal before seeing the ball bounce between two neighbour’s sheds and eventually come to rest in a garden in Annweir Avenue. The final 15 minutes saw Uckfield keeping the ball in the corner when they could and Lancing adopting a more direct approach in a desperate attempt to force the ball in the Uckfield net but the visitors defence remained firm until the final whistle consigning Naz’s team to its first defeat of the season.

While Lancing may feel slightly aggrieved at not getting anything from the game that should take nothing away from Uckfield who defended superbly throughout and became the first team to shut Lancing out this season. A special mention to Mo Juwara, who had a fantastic battle with the dangerous Bailo Camara, and George Fenton who’s direct running caused Uckfield problems from beginning to end. Lancing have a chance to get straight back to winning ways when we welcome Saltdean United, who have a number of ex Lancing players in their squad, to Culver Road on Tuesday in the Sussex Senior Cup.

Man of the Match: Mo Juwara

Our thanks to Lancing FC Vice-Chairman, Barry Sutton, for his superb match report in the absence of David Wilmott.