AFC Uckfield Town (1) 2, Guildford City (1) 4
by Barry Underwood
Guildford City advanced into the third round of the FA Vase for the first time in 10 years after a mud splattered win in Sussex. Hosts AFC Uckfield Town had done wonders to make the pitch playable after heavy rain during the week, but the heavy pitch was a real test of fitness after an enforced months layoff. Uckfield for their part have started their league season well and are positioned fifth in the Southern Combination League. The home side may have looked at Guildford’s disappointing league position and have been lulled into a false sense of security. But this City side are much better than their current league position suggests, and not for the first time this year in cup football they showed it.
Uckfield had more of the possession during the first period and City were indebted to keeper Stuart Norman for some excellent saves. But it wasn’t one sided. With plenty of pace out wide, Guildford continually looked dangerous on the counterattack. In the opening minutes Eli Ogunseye’s cross just eluded Dan Stewart in front of goal, and a minute later Uckfield’s Morgan Vale was thwarted by a tremendous double save from Stuart Norman. Still in the first 10 minutes a deep Uckfield free kick went dangerously close to the back post, whilst a strong run into the box saw a shot go wide. For City Mike Coppinger saw a 30-yard effort whistle just wide, but it was the home side who broke the deadlock on 12 minutes. A deep cross from the by-line was headed back across goal and Morgan Vale was on hand to turn the ball home. Dan Stewart did have the ball in the net on 24 minutes, but Athan Smith-Joseph was adjudged to be offside. A minute later the ball was in the net again and this time it counted. Eli Ogunseye ran at the defence and cut inside as he entered the box before firing past Jason Tibble. With the interval approaching Guildford were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men. A late challenge from David Burton was adjudicated as a yellow card, when most in the ground thought a red was the correct option. Indeed, throughout there was no doubting City’s physical commitment to the match wanting nothing to be left out on the pitch. In the final moments Stuart Norman again saved well, and for the visitor’s a Mike Coppinger effort was cleared off the line.
Uckfield themselves netted from an offside position in the early stages of the second half. But again, City’s speedsters on the flanks caused the home defence plenty of problems. Coppinger’s through ball gave Eli Ogunseye a chance of a second goal but Jason Tibble made a fine blocking save. On 58 minutes almost from nowhere Mike Coppinger conjured up a brilliant volley from the edge of the box that beat Tibble and nestled in the corner of the net. 10 minutes later Athan Smith-Joseph was tripped in the box as he made for the by-line. Up stepped Dan Stewart to rifle the ball home from the spot. Guildford were now in control and on 80 minutes they won another penalty; this time Eli Ogunseye being bundled over. With Stewart now off the field the spot kick fell to Athan Smith-Joseph who like Stewart earlier also smashed the ball home. Uckfield did pull a goal back from the spot via George Cook on 86 minutes, but this was Guildford’s day, and they weren’t to be denied as the clock ticked down.
Team: Stuart Norman, Sean Mason, Isy Nzelo (Jimmy Odagi 65), Theo Woodhouse, Greg Haydon, Nemo Adams, Athan Smith-Joseph, David Burton, Dan Stewart (Andre Smith 77), Mike Coppinger, Eli Ogunseye (Kieran Williams 83). Unused subs: Jeff Twumasi, Cyril Ocansey, Josh Everard, Luke Beale.
Referee: Graeme Ions