In the first of potentially three cup visits to The Oval this season, AFC Uckfield Town tonight (Tuesday 5th) travel to Eastbourne United AFC for a crucial Second Round tie in the Sussex Senior Cup, a stage the Uckers haven’t gone beyond in the last eight seasons, writes Will Hugall.
On the back of an FA Vase victory at Walthamstow the weekend prior, and yet to be beaten in 120 minutes in their nine knockout matches so far this season, the Uckers will be in high spirits for the encounter, but with United also on an eight-match winning streak under manager Matt Crabb, they will have to again be at their best to progress.
After their 3-2 win in North East London, which marked only their ninth ever FA Vase victory, the Uckers extended their current winning run, after a superb October, to six matches.
That purple patch is their longest since a period between January and February of this year, and with one further win would become their best since a nine-match spell prior to their FA Cup meeting with Dartford in September 2018.
The momentous result in the capital also sealed the Uckers their second ever Third Round appearance, where they have been drawn away to Berkshire side Binfield on Saturday 30th November for their first ever visit to the county in an FA competition.
Tonight, however, the Uckers turn their attentions back to Sussex football’s oldest cup competition, where they will be keen to overturn a shortage of appearances beyond the Second Round.
In their last 15 seasons, the current club and its predecessors have only gone beyond this stage twice – in 2005-06, and 2010-11.
Four of their last five Second Round exits, however, have come at the hands of opposition from higher divisions, and with that not the case tonight, may feel more positive about their chances.
Eastbourne United AFC: Sussex Senior Cup History
Tonight’s hosts will be feeling extremely confident themselves currently, with Matt Crabb’s appointment as manager in late September coinciding with a highly impressive series of wins in different competitions.
In terms of this competition, United do have pedigree to maintain as well, as six-time winners in the 1960s – a feat of victories in one decade only matched by Bognor Regis Town in the 1980s.
Most recently, they have also struggled to progress beyond the Second Round, but with four consecutive Third Round appearances between 2011 and 2015, and a Quarter-Final run in 2009-10, do have a slight edge over the Uckers.
Having defeated Anthony Storey’s side in the league just over two months ago, United have certainly developed the momentum to again set targets on the SCFL Premier’s top places this season.
With Nathan Crabb’s 12 goals supported by seven from both Kane Penn and Paul Rogers, while only five goals have been conceded in their current winning run, United present a huge test for the Uckers in what is sure to be an ultra-competitive tie.
Eastbourne United AFC v AFC Uckfield Town kicks off – pending a pitch inspection following recent rain – at 7:45 p.m. tonight at The Oval (Eastbourne, BN22 7LN).
Admission is £6 for adults, £3 for concessions, and free for under-16s.
Updates will be available during the game from the @AfcUckfieldTown Twitter feed, with a report available here on Uckfield FM after the game.
Come on you Uckers!