For the second week running The Magpies welcomed relegation-threatened opposition to The Nest, this time in the shape of AFC Uckfield Town who lost to their hosts in the return fixture 6-1 just over six months earlier. Both sides had made a lot of changes since then and the home side were forced into three since last week's narrow win over Arundel. With Byron Napper suspended, captain Eddie French injured and Adam Williams absent, Manager Dave Cocoracchio brought Alfie Gritt in for his debut since signing from Worthing United and brought Tom Frankland and Lewis Scally into the starting line-up having been on the bench seven days ago. The final of the three deadline day signings, Adrian Todd, was denied making his debut due to being struck down with a virus last night.
The Magpies were keen to make a more potent start this week and they did just that when in the third minute Frankland picked out the run of Gritt in-between the Uckfield Centre Backs and the debutant didn't hesitate in lofting the ball over Alex Harris in goal from 22 yards out and opening his account for his new club. The early lead could have been doubled nine minutes later when Joel Colbran put Frankland away down the right, but after cutting in he was unable to keep his shot on target. Only five minutes later the hosts were served a reminder that the visitors weren't going to lie down easily given their precarious position in the league as Gregg Berry seized on the loose ball but his drive was blocked out for a corner by the recovering Scally.
Harry Bachelor on the left hand flank became more prominent as the half wore on Uckfield didn't heed the warning when he cut back and crossed for Gritt, who's flicked header only just evaded Frankland at the far post for a tap in. They did pay in the 28th minute though as Colbran hit a deliciously raking ball out to the young midfielder and he fed Tiago Andrade who kept his composure before curling the ball past Harris from a tight angle to double the lead and secure his first goal for the Club since joining in mid-March. The striker nearly set up the third five minutes later when he neatly laid off a quick throw from Ross Swaine into the path of Ollie Moore, but last week's match winner couldn't keep his volley down.
Moore would have two more sights of goal in quick succession as the half was drawing to a close, once from a Frankland free kick and then from a Bachelor cut back. but on both occasions, the immediate pressure he was put under ensured that the sting was taken out of the efforts and Harris was comfortably able to field them. Despite most of the pressure being applied by the home side, they received something of a let-off just before the break when a swift move from the visitors was curtailed by the assistant who flagged Andrew Dalhouse offside when it was Scott Taylor who had run from deep and found himself clean through on goal. However, it was the Magpies that had the last meaningful chance when Colbran left two for dead with a Cruyff Turn on the edge of the area but Scally couldn't capitalise on the resulting cut-back from the by-line.
Ed Davis replaced Joe Holvey at half time due to the latter failing to recover from a niggle picked up midway through the first half and Uckfield nearly capitalised immediately on the change in personnel at the right back position when Dalhouse got in behind, but he was shepherded wide and could only shoot into the side netting. 5 minutes later though, the points were virtually secured when Gritt and Davis linked up well to enable the former to drive into the box. After laying the ball off to Andrade, the striker was unceremoniously upended and referee Robert King duly pointed to the spot. Moore stepped up to calmly slot the penalty away sending Harris the wrong way in the process. The visitors were obviously rocked by the third goal and it wasn't long before they fell further behind when Frankland delivered a deep corner where Colbran rose to head towards goal. Whilst the header was clearly on target, it looked a comfortable claim for Harris until his teammate Shaun Loft deflected the ball past him and thereby secured the Magpies' fourth of the afternoon.
Davis was starting to enjoy himself on the left flank, taking the opportunity to run at tiring opponents, and his mazy runs towards the area were continually opening up opportunities. On the hour mark, he slipped Gritt away to cross from the left and Bachelor did very well to get on the end of it, but he couldn't get enough purchase on his guided volley to keep it inside the far post. A minute later Davis had a go at goal himself and drew a good save from Harris, but with the ball not being pushed to safety he merely presented the ball to the oncoming Andrade but he couldn't keep the ball down with the goal at his mercy. Less than ten minutes later Harris rode his luck again as he pulled off an even more impressive save from a Scally header, but again he was relieved that the rebound (volleyed by Scally himself) wasn't converted.
Michael Wood and Matt Daniel were introduced from the bench to add further fresh legs in the final third and it only took the latter two minutes to make an impact when in the 79th minute he swivelled on a pass from Moore 20 yards out and half-volleyed the ball into the bottom corner to make it five. Three minutes later Andrade made amends for his earlier miss when ran on to a Frankland through ball and kept his cool to commit Harris before stepping back inside and tapping home thereby ensuring that the Magpies would hit half a dozen against Uckfield in both matches this season. The 6-1 score line that day was nearly replicated with five minutes to go when their main threat, Dalhouse received a quick, long throw deep in the area, but his inventive volley was comfortably taken by Dave Carruthers in the home goal and with that both the 3 points and another clean sheet were secured.
The Magpies had the greater quality today and ensured that paid dividends, producing a score line that was by no means flattering. This was an impressive performance and a timely run of form comes with a final run of 4 matches to go this season, with all matches against top half opponents including two of the run-away top three. All are looking forward to this challenge and it provides an excellent opportunity for the squad test themselves with their ambitions for this season and beyond at the forefront of their mind.