Sussex County League Division Three
Victoria Pleasure Ground, Uckfield
Match Rating: 2
At the conclusion of my earlier match at Rottingdean Village, I headed northwards for a second installment of Sussex County League Division Three action. Once again it would mean a revisit, once again with it in mind that Uckfield's ground would be very pleasant in warm sunny conditions, in complete contrast to my previous visit in freezing cold, blizzard conditions.
The Victoria Pleasure Ground is located about a ten minute walk uphill from Uckfield town centre and train station, and the name is apt for the venue. The football pitch is situated amongst various other recreational facilities, with a modern but attractively designed (inside and out) clubhouse to one side as one walks from the car park over a cricket outfield to the football pitch. The length that one arrives at is along the top of a grass bank, which provides an elevated view of the action as well as the long distance countryside views to the South Downs. Behind both goals are hedges and trees, giving the ground a very rural and peaceful feel. The pitch is fully railed but has no hard standing nor floodlights. Programmes were on sale in the clubhouse and was just above average for the level the club is at, attractively designed and with the essential information included.
On this, the last day in the Division, neither team had much but pride left to play for. Uckfield were in seventh place in the twelve team division, two places and seven points above today's opponents Hurstpierpoint. If they could win today, Uckfield would rise to sixth, whilst Hurstpierpoint could rise one place if they avoided defeat today. Uckfield were unbeaten in their last five games, winning three of those, whilst Hurstpierpoint have won their last two games, which followed 0-4 and 0-5 defeats. When the two teams met in the league in October, Uckfield came away with a 0-3 victory, although when they met at Ringmer last month in the Division Three cup, Hurstpierpoint progressed with a 0-1 victory.
On a gloriously sunny afternoon with barely a cloud in the sky, the game very much had an end of season feel to it. Uckfield took the lead on 36 minutes when a well judged cross from the right was hit home by Murray Heywood. That seemed to lift Uckfield slightly as they went on to dominate the rest of the game, as Hurstpierpoint's players allowed the game to drift away. Despite further chances to increase their lead, Uckfield took a slender one goal lead into the interval.
Hurstpierpoint started the second half with more desire than they had shown in the first half, but on the hour mark, Uckfield doubled their lead when a corner was headed in firmly by Russ Porter. Hurstpierpoint had their chances to get back into the game, but Uckfield deservedly put the game to bed on 77 minutes when a cross from the left was stabbed low towards goal by Joseph Miller, and although the keeper got his hands behind the ball by his ankles, the ball squirmed through his fingers for a goal. Uckfield could have made their win even more emphatic, but still finish the season on a positive note and finish the season in sixth place.