On the second attempt, AFC Uckfield Town and Peacehaven & Telscombe will hope that tonight (Tuesday 11th) their SCFA RUR Cup Semi-Final will be playable at The Oaks – a fixture that if it survives the effects of Storm Ciara, would provide the opportunity for each team to make genuine history in the long-running competition, writes Will Hugall.
After both RUR Cup Semi-Final ties failed to produce a result on their first attempt – this meeting due to a frozen pitch, and Eastbourne Town and Lancing’s contest abandoned after a serious injury to the Lancers’ Liam Hendy – all four sides get a second chance to book their Final spot in the next fortnight, in what are likely to be extremely tight duels.
Tonight, it’s the opportunity for either Uckfield – one-time finalists – or their eight-time cup-winning opponents Peacehaven to become the first of those teams to reach the showpiece event, hosted at Lancing in May.
As defending RUR Cup champions – following a 3-0 win in the Final against Haywards Heath last season – perhaps the visitors do enter the tie with the greater expectation, hoping to replicate the manner of their victory at the Semi-Final stage last term, when they defeated the Uckers 2-0.
Certainly, the Tye are likely to provide the Uckers’ toughest test at home for quite some time, not least while enjoying a fine season that sees them sit 3rd in the SCFL Premier Division, and has also produced runs in the Sussex Senior Cup and Peter Bentley Cup where they currently await their Semi-Final ties.
Equally, Uckfield have been absent – either through postponements or scheduling – from their home at The Oaks in all but one game since late October, and after a run of 17 away matches either side of a 1-0 January win against Langney Wanderers, will likely be both relieved and slightly unfamiliar with the return to their own patch.
What faces Anthony Storey’s side is a side who are 11-time finalists in the competition from 1978 onwards, and – as per figures used in a preview to this tie previously – the cup’s most successful outfit in the last 42 years; appearing in 26.19% of all Finals during that era.
Where the Uckers will certainly find confidence is in their recent record against high-flying sides; having inflicted defeats, in various competitions this season, on Lancing, Newhaven, Eastbourne Town and Horley, as well as the Essex Senior League’s 3rd-place side Walthamstow, and only conceding three goals in the process of those wins.
After a dramatic 4-4 draw the last time the sides met – in an SCFL fixture hosted by Tye in early September – the competitive rivalry between Storey and Mark Shutt’s sides should only hot up in this Semi-Final, with neither team lacking for motivation to make what would be historic Final appearances; a potential second for the Uckers, or one that could replicate extended spells in the 1990s of featuring at that stage for Tye.
Pending a pitch inspection, the SCFA RUR Cup Semi-Final between AFC Uckfield Town and Peacehaven & Telscombe FC will kick off at 7:45 p.m. tonight at The Oaks (Framfield, TN22 5QL). Directions to the ground are available here; http://www.scfl.org.uk/grounddetail.php?gnd_id=2.
Entry is £6 for Adults, £3 for Concessions and free for Under-16s.
In the build-up and throughout the match itself, updates on any pitch inspections, as well as team news and all the action as it happens, will also be available from the excellent @AfcUckfieldTown and @PT_FC Twitter pages.
For all the post-match coverage, a full report will be here on Uckfield FM in the hours after the game, dissecting the developments of what is sure to be a memorable tie.
Come on you Uckers!
Stock image (c) Mike Skinner