On their long-awaited return to action at home, AFC Uckfield Town made up for an eleven-week absence in the most dramatic fashion possible, scoring an 87th-minute winner to defeat a young Langney Wanderers side and secure their first three points of 2020.
In very different circumstances from the Uckers’ 6-1 win when they visited a sun-baked Priory Lane in August, the meeting – initially a relief to even be playable – started out as a tight battle for control as both sides adapted to the conditions.
Simon Colbran’s visitors were the first to threaten, using their pace on the counter as they forced Phil Hawkins into parrying a fine headed chance, but as the Uckers built into the half, they soon had their own opportunities.
Making his home debut, recent signing Alex Laing put in a typically dynamic performance as a set-piece of his just evaded Matt Maclean.
Liam Baitup was then unfortunate not to latch onto Tayler Maddock’s searching pass only minutes later.
While the sides went in level at half-time, the scoreline almost tipped in Wanderers’ favour only minutes into the second half, with Matt Rodrigues-Barbosa clearing an effort off the line as both sides began sharply.
With the tough conditions and high intensity taking its toll, substitutions tended to disrupt the game’s momentum somewhat, and towards the hour mark, the deadlock still looked hard to break.
A quiet spell followed, but with the match heading towards its final ten minutes, a quick burst of chances arrived, including a ball into the Uckers’ box which was just cleared under significant Langney pressure.
The tension only increased into the closing stages, but with supreme confidence, it was the Uckers who wrapped up all three points in the 87th minute, with Uckers substitute Ellis Cormack to thank; hitting a stunning strike from distance and beating Dan Hutchins in the Wanderers goal, allowing a late defensive stand to see Uckfield home.