AFC Uckfield Town hold off late Broadbridge Heath rally to reach RUR Cup quarter-finals

Sam Cooper, Shaun Loft, Ellis Cormack and Liam Baitup. AFC Uckfield Town v Little Common. Picture by Mike Skinner
Sam Cooper, Shaun Loft, Ellis Cormack and Liam Baitup. AFC Uckfield Town v Little Common. Picture by Mike Skinner

AFC Uckfield Town booked their spot in the SCFA RUR Cup Quarter-Finals for the second consecutive year, beating Broadbridge Heath 4-3 on Tuesday night.

However, they did not have everything their own way, with a 4-1 lead almost being cancelled out by a late Bears rally.

Only three days after the sides' previous meeting, a 1-0 Uckers win, it was clear that Anthony Storey's men looked to pick up exactly where they left off.

Uckfield took the lead after just four minutes after Bailo Camara drove in powerfully from the left, unlocking before offloading to Matt Maclean who stabbed past Mitchell Bromage.

Camara had a similar opportunity from Dee Okojie’s cross only minutes later but shot over.

The Bears drew level in the 12th minute; Tim Cook’s threat from the right proving decisive as he squared to Jamie Taylor, who dragged a finish in off the base of the left post.

A tight half would turn on a 31st-minute goal, however. Maclean battled superbly before being upended by Kyle Sim in the box. Liam Baitup stepped up, smashing a strike into the bottom right corner.

The Uckers capitalised on some missed BBH chances by bagging a crucial third in the 42nd minute.

Okojie beat Cameron White before swinging in a cross to Regan Smith, whose far-post effort struck the post and appeared to bounce in off Tim Cook.

The hosts struggled to make an impact at the start of the second half and were punished by a fourth Uckfield goal in the 55th minute.

Bromage tipped a cross from Okojie round his post, but the Bears 'keeper spilt the resulting corner with the ball dropping to Baitup, who showed no mercy by prodding home.

Aside from a free-kick which beat Phil Hawkins but was cleared by Ryan Welch, the Uckers dominated, with Ellis Cormack unfortunate on three separate occasions not to add to the lead.

As the odds seemed to shorten for the hosts, they responded with a discordant shock, narrowing the deficit in the 76th minute.

Jamie Wanstall was allowed to progress through midfield and fire a shot on target which beat Hawkins with a touch off of Sam Cooper’s outstretched boot.

A third goal, four minutes later, brought the Bears right back into contention.

Substitute Jake Hull took the ball down, 25 yards from goal, before unleashing a rocket which crashed in off the right post to beat Hawkins.

With the Bears even shocking themselves, it was the Uckers who kept their heads to create the better chances in a frantic final ten minutes.

Richie Welch led a two-on-one before being foiled by Bromage, while a loose touch denied Baitup his chance of a hat-trick before the final whistle went.

Uckfield will face the winners of Eastbourne United and Southwick in their quarter final tie.

For now, Storey’s team can turn their attentions to a huge tie in the FA Vase Second Round this Saturday, as they travel to Walthamstow FC.

AFC Uckfield Town: Hawkins, Rodrigues-Barbosa, Smith, Cooper, Ryan Welch, Richie Welch (C), Okojie, Maclean, Baitup, Cormack (Scott, 74’), Camara. Unused: Pearson, Storey, Kosia, Loft