After their solid season took a spectacular turn with consecutive victories over the SCFL Premier Division’s early pacesetters in the last week, AFC Uckfield Town return to The Oaks looking to recreate the form showed in both victories and improve their home form.
Their visitors, Crawley Down Gatwick, sit above them in 6th, however, and after collecting six points against the Uckers in 2018-19 will be no pushovers as they aim to achieve consistency this season themselves, writes Will Hugall.
Following the frustration of narrow home defeats to Saltdean United and Horsham YMCA, the Uckers’ 1-0 league victory at Lancing and elimination of Eastbourne Town in the Sussex Senior Cup have improved spirits massively in the last seven days.
Their contrast in fortunes away and at home, however, and the success of a counter-attacking strategy compared to when they are asked to control games, ask questions of the Uckers that they will have to respond to in this test.
With the onus expected to be on them whenever teams travel to The Oaks, Anthony Storey’s men will know where they can sharpen up their game, with plenty of motivation to do so against the Anvils after suffering a 4-1 defeat in the same fixture in March.
Before that result, the sides had tended to share the points in recent seasons, with the Uckers winning both previous meetings at home while the Anvils added a third consecutive victory on home turf in West Sussex earlier in September 2018.
The October that followed for the Uckers featured a number of superb results, with progressions in four different cup competitions and a notable league feat, although not one they were probably aware of at the time.
A 24-match winless run in October in the SCFL Premier Division or equivalent level was ended for the Uckers last year with a 3-2 victory at Broadbridge Heath, with Matt Maclean’s added-time winner ending an apparent autumnal curse on the Uckers since AFC Uckfield’s 2-0 win over Hassocks in 2011.
After a wait of just 2,569 days for that run to come to an end, the current Uckers may well be hoping for a good result today to avoid fears of a repeat.
Opposition Lowdown – Crawley Down Gatwick
For a club that was formed in 1993 and only joined the Sussex County League in the 1995-96 season, Crawley Down Gatwick boast an incredible success story for one of the SCFL’s youngest sides.
In their rise from the Mid-Sussex League in the mid-1990s to the Isthmian Division One South, where they spent three seasons from 2011 to 2014, however, tough opponents for the West Sussex side were the Uckers’ predecessors, Wealden FC.
In the nine consecutive seasons they spent together in the Sussex County Division Two between 2000 and 2009, the teams strangely enough always alternated in who finished higher – that was, until the Anvils won promotion in 2008-09.
After a 9th-place finish in the SCFL Premier last year, it has certainly been an eventful season so far this time for the Anvils, with abandonments in the RUR Cup, following a floodlight failure, and earlier this week in the Sussex Senior Cup, with rain suspending their meeting with Midhurst & Eastbourne after only two minutes.
Slight inconsistency in the league, exits in both the FA Cup and Vase and conceding the second highest number of goals per game (2.5) in all competitions of any SCFL Premier side so far will all be concerns for James Day’s side however, which they will aim to address at The Oaks.
AFC Uckfield Town vs Crawley Down Gatwick FC kicks off this Saturday at 3 p.m. at The Oaks (Framfield, TN22 5QL), with directions to the ground available, via Google Maps, here.
Admission is £6 for adults, £3 for concessions, and free for under-16s.
Live updates will be brought to you by the @AfcUckfieldTown Twitter page throughout the match, and on the Saturday Sport programme with David Eggleston, live here on Uckfield FM from 2-6 p.m., with a full report to follow in the hours after the game.
Come on you Uckers!