Having only been able to complete two matches so far this month, AFC Uckfield Town will have to keep their fingers crossed this weekend to get some action in their scheduled fixture against Broadbridge Heath, writes Will Hugall.
If the game does get the go-ahead after a week of persistent rain, the Uckers will aim to recover their league position with two games now in hand on their competitors, but as history shows, they will face a tough challenge from the visiting Bears.
With their visit to Hassocks’ Beacon Ground succumbing to miserable conditions last weekend, the Uckers dropped two places, with eight other games playable in the SCFL Premier and Saltdean United and Langney Wanderers taking advantage.
Their match against Crawley Down Gatwick also yet to be rescheduled, the Uckers are in an interesting position in mid-autumn with their fate very much in their hands and will hope for some action in the coming weeks to maintain proximity.
They will be wary, however, that their league campaign may have to take a backseat for a little longer. After they enter the FA Vase at its 2nd Round against Walthamstow next weekend, they could have four unplayed league matches – a price, however, which they will certainly be willing to pay if they can secure further cup progress.
Opposition Lowdown: Broadbridge Heath FC
Regardless of whether the Uckers’ first meeting with the Bears is this weekend or next Tuesday, here’s all you need to know about the Horsham-based side;
Spending five seasons in the SCFL Premier Division since 2014, the Bears have made a strong impression – finishing four times in the top half, and securing their highest ever finish last season, as they beat the Uckers to 6th spot.
Manager Steve Painter has been at the club since January 2010 and can lay claim to guiding the team to the most successful spell in its history; capped with the move to their newly-built ground, about 100m from the athletics track which remains at the old High Wood Hill facility, this summer.
The side have adapted well to their new surroundings and currently sit 9th in the SCFL Premier, four places above the Uckers. They have won 13 points at home, and are still competing in both the RUR and Sussex Senior Cups – the former of which they will meet the Uckers in again this upcoming Tuesday night.
Despite the loss of captain Tom Bold and key goalscorer George Cousins to Alfold in the last week, the Bears have plenty of faith in their squad this season to maintain their current position. That charge will be led by striker Jamie Taylor, who has eight goals in all competitions so far this season, while after using three goalkeepers this season, finding a permanent custodian will help shore up their defence.
While spending the last four seasons together in the SCFL Premier, the history between the Uckers and the Bears runs deep; in the 2000s, Wealden FC spent eight straight seasons alongside Heath in the Sussex County League Division Two, finishing higher of the two on five occasions.
Including AFC Uckfield’s record in 2013-14, the past eleven meetings between the sides have produced five wins for each. The Uckers won both fixtures last season, despite finishing a place lower, with a 3-2 victory in late October and a more comfortable 6-1 win at home; Matt Maclean bagging two in both, while Dee Okojie also contributed three goals.
Pending a pitch inspection and some fortune, AFC Uckfield Town v Broadbridge Heath FC will kick off at 3 p.m. at The Oaks this Saturday; directions to the ground are available via http://www.scfl.org.uk/grounddetail.php?gnd_id=2
Admission is £6 for adults, £3 for concessions, and free for under-16s.
Updates throughout the game can also be found from the @AfcUckfieldTown Twitter feed, and live here on Uckfield FM, on the Saturday Sports Programme with David Eggleston from 2-6 p.m.
Your support will be hugely appreciated with the Uckers aiming to ensure back-to-back October wins over the Bears, so please roar them on any way you can in the next few crucial games!