Eastbourne United AFC vs. AFC Uckfield Town – 3rd March 2020 – SCFL Peter Bentley Cup Quarter-Final
Peacehaven & Telscombe FC vs. AFC Uckfield Town – 5th March 2020 – SCFA RUR Cup Semi-Final
Uckers head into dual cup duties as busy schedule begins
After almost a month out of action which has seen seven fixtures, both home and away, postponed, AFC Uckfield Town finally have the chance to restart their 2019-20 season with a cup double-header in the space of just 48 hours – starting tonight (3rd March), with a visit to Eastbourne United AFC in the first of two ties set to be crucial in their search for silverware, writes Will Hugall.
With a schedule heavily disrupted by weeks of unfortunate weather, the situation for the Southern Combination Football League as a whole and Uckfield, in particular, has been a strange one, and now throws up a schedule for the Uckers that will certainly test the extent of their abilities.
Understandably, after missing eleven matches in total since Christmas due to waterlogged conditions, the final two months – or longer – of the season for Anthony Storey’s side see a condensed run of games; tonight’s visit to United the first of a potential ten matches in March alone.
This week, that means three games in the space of five days, with the Uckers’ SCFA RUR Cup Semi-Final at Peacehaven & Telscombe on Thursday, and a league trip to Saltdean United awaiting on Saturday.
Any headaches that may cause over selection, training and fitness levels are non-negotiable, however, and the Uckers understand that if they are to have the success they aim for this season, they are certainly going to have to do it the hard way, with a minimum of 18 games remaining in all competitions.
Tonight’s excursion, however, will at least be in welcome surroundings. Storey’s side have visited The Oval four times since the start of November, knowing from the first of those meetings that they were likely to have three cup ties away to United – and so it proved, with this Peter Bentley Cup tie following Uckfield victories in the Sussex Senior Cup and RUR Cup clashes of the sides.
Themselves having also only completed seven matches in 2020, Matt Crabb’s Eastbourne United side have been consistent rivals to the Uckers this season after winning both league meetings to level the record at 2-2, and in the very last matchup between the teams for 2019-20 will be keen to gain the final spoils.
A decisive factor, if Crabb’s team are to be successful, may well be their home form, having only been defeated amongst 19 matches by four different teams; three of the SCFL Premier Division’s top four, and twice by the Uckers.
As last season’s losing finalists, however, the Uckers will have added motivation to do well in the Peter Bentley Cup this year and will be looking to channel that experience and frustration into a performance worthy of the last Semi-Final spot this season, where Peacehaven & Telscombe await the winners.
Rather than coincidence, a superb season on all fronts from Mark Shutt’s Peacehaven means that they will provide extremely tough competition once, if not twice, in the ongoing developments this season for the Uckers.
Just last week, the coastal outfit pushed Danny Bloor’s National League South side Eastbourne Borough all the way to the final spot-kick of a tense penalty shoot-out in the Sussex Senior Cup Semi-Finals; an immense achievement considering that the last County League side to make the competition’s final was Ringmer in 2004-05.
With Tye sat fourth, seven points behind leaders Lancing, in a congested top section of the SCFL Premier Division table at present, their chances of promotion are still very much alive, although cup silverware may seem a slightly more realistic prospect this season.
Eight-time winners and defending champions in the RUR Cup, Shutt’s side will provide the Uckers with a true test that would make them wholly worthy finalists if they were to pass it, and given the recent history between the sides, the meeting is likely to be an enthralling one either way.
Given that this tie has been postponed twice in attempts to play at The Oaks as well, there will be no love lost as the Uckers have surrendered home advantage but will still look to come away with a massive result.
Tonight, Eastbourne United AFC vs. AFC Uckfield Town kicks off at 7:45 p.m. at The Oval (Eastbourne, BN22 7LN), with directions to the ground available here; http://www.scfl.org.uk/grounddetail.php?gnd_id=16.
Admission is £6 for Adults, £3 for Concessions and free for Under-16s.
This Thursday, Peacehaven & Telscombe FC vs AFC Uckfield Town kicks off at 7:45 p.m. at The Sports Park, Peacehaven.
Updates on any pitch inspections, as well as team news and all the action as it happens, will also be available from the @AfcUckfieldTown Twitter pages throughout.
For all the post-match coverage, both reports will appear here in full in the hours after the games.