Following their longest spell of league action all season, AFC Uckfield Town’s unpredictable season takes another twist this Tuesday as they welcome in-form Peacehaven & Telscombe for a SCFA RUR Cup Semi-Final that reverses the roles of last season’s fixture at the same stage, writes Will Hugall.
In six straight games in the SCFL Premier Division recently, the Uckers have yielded nine points amidst the introduction of new signings, postponement of three home matches and unavailability of key figures; part of a wider trend that has seen them win eight, draw two and lose five since late October.
They will be thankful, then, that conditions improved to allow the staging of a first home game for more than two months against Langney Wanderers ten days ago, and after a 1-0 win on that occasion, hopes will be high that home advantage once again proves a factor.
Peacehaven & Telscombe, defending RUR Cup champions under the management of Mark Shutt, are likely to provide the Uckers’ toughest test at home for a long while however, and after a 2-0 win in the same Semi-Final fixture played 11 months ago at Piddinghoe Avenue will be looking to continue a fine record in the competition.
Tye are eight-time winners of the Sussex County FA competition, as well as three-time runners-up, and with all of their Final appearances coming from 1978 onwards, they are by far the cup’s most successful outfit in the last 42 years; appearing in 26.19% of all Finals during that era.
Following a clinical 3-0 win against 2018 title winners Haywards Heath back in May, the coastal outfit are looking to repeat spells between 1990-91 and 1994-96 where they reached two and three consecutive finals respectively, and again leave their mark on the competition over a sustained spell.
While the Uckers themselves are yet to lift the trophy in either their five-year existence or the history of AFC Uckfield and Uckfield Town dating to the 1990s, the achievement of AFC Uckfield in reaching the 2011 Final was significant in another way.
Using the same period since 1978, Uckfield were then just the fifth Sussex County League Division Two side to reach the final, and part of a group of sides that has since only been joined by one other; Broadbridge Heath in 2013.
Aside from that run, as well, this season marks only the third time since 2006 that the Uckers have gone beyond the competition’s Second Round; all in the last three seasons.
Besides their various cup pedigrees, the two sides have been in contrasting league form this season, with the Uckers unable to make progress for a number of weeks and stuck in 10th at present, while Tye have overtaken early-season leaders Eastbourne Town, now sitting 2nd behind Lancing.
While the Lancers notably lost last weekend, Shutt’s side were unable to take advantage as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at Steyning Town, and instead remain six points behind the league leaders while four points separate them from 5th-placed Newhaven.
Alongside a potential RUR Cup Final appearance, their tight battle for promotion could be one of a number of defining moments for the side in the last four months of the season.
Awaiting the winners of the Uckers’ match with Eastbourne United in the Peter Bentley Cup Semi-Finals, Tye also face Lewes in the Sussex Senior Cup Quarter-Finals a week today as the last SCFL side standing in the competition, and are on course to complete their best season in recent memory.
With Anthony Storey’s Uckfield looking to break new ground and the visitors taking up the role of serial modern champions and favourites for the tie, tonight’s meeting will hopefully prove another classic in the growing catalogue between the sides, and with so much at stake should certainly inspire two teams who seem to thrive when the pressure is on.
Conditions permitting, AFC Uckfield Town vs. Langney Wanderers will kick off at 7:30 p.m. tonight at The Oaks (Framfield, TN22 5QL). Directions to the ground are available here
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!