AFC Uckfield Town continue their extended spell of league action this weekend as they travel to Horley Town, the Surrey side recently having moved to 2nd in the SCFL Premier Division and aiming to take advantage of momentum in a tight battle for promotion as the Uckers make their first-ever visit, writes Will Hugall.
With the Clarets having joined the SCFL via a transfer from the Combined Counties Premier Division last summer, the Uckers are one of just three opponents they are yet to make their first acquaintance with this season – Saltdean United and Broadbridge Heath the others.
Despite finishing 10th in the Combined Counties last season, Anthony Jupp’s side have adjusted swimmingly to their new surroundings, and can boast the division’s finest current run of form; winning ten of twelve matches since their shock FA Vase exit to Seaford Town in mid-October, including all of their last eight.
Like leaders Lancing, the side – based only a couple of miles north of Gatwick Airport – have never finished a gameweek outside of the Premier Division’s top half this season, and off the back of their recent run have steadily built an extremely promising promotion push.
Originally set to travel to the New Defence in late November – only for poor weather to intervene – the Uckers will have their targets set on stopping such a run from their hosts this weekend; instead looking to rediscover more consistency in a stop-start month for them so far.
Without a prolonged run of games, Anthony Storey’s team have had to integrate new elements to their game in an isolated number of fixtures, and in 2020 so far have suffered three defeats, while also picking up a 1-0 win against Langney Wanderers in their only tie at The Oaks.
Following the loss of their midweek RUR Cup Semi-Final with Peacehaven & Telscombe to waterlogged conditions, and ahead of a Peter Bentley Cup Quarter-Final tie at Eastbourne United AFC this upcoming Tuesday, they will have plenty to prove in this meeting, particularly without a handful of important figures to call upon.
Suspensions will rule the key trio of Richie Welch, Tayler Maddock and Sam Cooper out of the trip, although the Uckers will be hopeful that additions made earlier this month can provide competition throughout the rest of the squad.
In their efforts to push on up the top half of the table, the Uckers will be after the full three points to narrow the gap on 7th-placed Crawley Down Gatwick to less than four points – but will also be aware that only two sides have been successful at the New Defence this season, Lingfield and FA Cup visitors Balham.
Elsewhere at home, the Clarets have only drawn twice; winning each of their last five, including the visit of Lancing this week, when Mario Quiassaca’s 8th-minute goal proved the difference between the high-flying duo.
With those results laying down a fine marker for their intentions this season, the Uckers will be very wary of the size of the task they face at hosts Horley, but will hardly have better motivation to prove a point in pursuit of their own aims; raising the prospect of a memorable first meeting between the sides.
Horley FC v AFC Uckfield Town kicks off at 3 p.m. this afternoon at The New Defence (Horley, RH6 8SP), with directions to the ground available here; https://www.horleytownfc.co.uk/contact-us/how-to-find-us/.
Admission is £7 for Adults, £3 for Concessions, and free for Under-16s.
Updates will be available throughout the match from the @AfcUckfieldTown Twitter page, while a full report from the match will also be available here in the hours after the match.
Come on you Uckers!