ON the back of a good result in the Brighton Charity Cup away at East Grinstead the previous week, Saturday saw the visit of Selsey to AFC Uckfield.
The signing of Terry Garcia from St Francis Rangers and the return of Stafford Browne meant a strong bench. With Andy McDowell away and Drew Greenall’s transfer to Little Common, young Tom Swancott donned the No.9 shirt. With some rain overnight the Sussex clay home surface was always going to be sticky and it didn’t disappoint!
AFC won the toss and elected to defend the muddy end, which meant the visitors started proceedings. For the second week in a row early pressure from Uckers broke the deadlock on three minutes.
The highly influential James Rhodes drove the ball out of the AFC half and dispatched it to wide man Rich Greenfield on the left. The fleet-footed Greenfield cut inside and then back-heeled the ball to Rhodes who had continued his run. The ball was slotted home aplomb in the bottom left hand corner from just outside the box.
Most of the early play was in favour of the home side and in the Selsey half with further chances coming around 15 minutes. The visitors’ first real effort came on 19 minutes with a cross from the left shot well wide of the upright. At half time the score remained 1-0.
Selsey had the early chances in the second term despite a bulk of the play with AFC. Headers wide and over on 52 and 53 minutes respectively from unmarked players was a real shot across the hosts’ bows. AFC’s first double chance came on 57 minutes with the Selsey keeper coming out fast and blocking the shot from Jack Divall for the corner. Six minutes later saw a debatable and dubious free kick awarded for the visitors deep in the AFC half.
The ball was delivered right to left, far post, to a mass of onrushing yellow-shirted players. AFC custodian Mark Oldroyd was unable to gather the aerial ball and the ever-dependable Dan Pollard cleared off the line to save his team’s blushes.
Another great chance for Rhodes saw the ball hit just past the stanchion from 18 yards on 67 minutes. A couple of great opportunities for AFC’s pacey forward trio to extend the lead came around the 70 minute mark but on each occasion it was difficult to get the ball out of feet on the bobbly surface.
The travelling bench’s vociferous calls for a penalty on 71 minutes were waved away by the young man in black, Leigh Crowhurst, despite the even younger linesman enthusiastically placing his flag across his chest, which caused a bit of niggle in the closing phase.
A full set of substitutions were made by the home side, with Joe Cuttress replacing captain Ben Dartnell, Stafford Browne on for Rich Greenfield and Terry Garcia swapping with the booked Brad Manton. Eighty-one minutes saw the game put beyond the visitors with a build-up down the left involving Grant Harrison and Jack Divall resulting in Swancott coolly rounding the Selsey keeper to seal the points.
In the dying stages, as the visitors tried to salvage something from the game, Pollard came to the rescue again with a block from a fantastic bicycle kick effort. That was that and the game finished 2-0.
Whilst the home side tried to get the ball down and play it wasn’t a pretty game by any means, on such a challenging surface and against a side that worked hard to shut down. Whilst Selsey had some chances the bulk of the possession was with AFC and the final reckoning was probably fair on the balance of play. The game was crying out for the second goal throughout which was late coming.
Two comfortable wins have now been secured by the Uckers following the 6-1 pasting from Pagham two weeks prevoiously.
Tonight (Friday) night sees the short trip to Hassocks in the league but with one eye on the John O’Hara League Cup Semi-final against Pagham at Shoreham on the following Tuesday.