While the majority of Southern Combination Football League clubs will be involved in the first weekend of 2019-20 FA Vase football this weekend, AFC Uckfield Town will instead begin their campaign in another historic cup competition – the Royal Ulster Rifles Charity Cup.
Last season’s incredible run to the Vase’s Fourth Round has earned the Uckers a bye to the Second Round this time around, while byes to the First Round for the SCFL’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th-placed sides have also handed Horsham YMCA a free weekend.
With the sides drawn against each other in the RUR Cup, the decision has been made to bring forward their Second Round tie, making it only the third fixture to be played in the competition so far this season.
For Anthony Storey’s side, the prevailing story of their season so far has been their confident approach towards meeting heightened expectations – the result of a superb 2018-19 season on several fronts.
With their league form reaching new heights after a 6-1 win at Langney Wanderers on Bank Holiday Monday, and their FA Cup involvement continuing on Tuesday night in a home replay against VCD Athletic, the Uckers will hope their good form continues as they aim to emulate an appearance in the RUR Cup Semi-Finals last term.
Despite falling to eventual champions Peacehaven & Telscombe in the last four, Storey’s side from 2018-19 achieved the best run for the town since 2011, when AFC Uckfield reached the Final and lost 2-0 to Crawley Down Gatwick, with a county title for any senior Uckfield side still elusive.
While their cup form may have been most notable for matches played at The Oaks, the Uckers will also be hoping to continue an impressive run of away results in 2018-19 as well. The side won five of seven ties on the road, as well as the Peter Bentley Cup Semi-Final against today’s opponents at Shoreham FC, significantly improving their cup record on the road in the process.
Opposition Lowdown – Horsham YMCA FC
Although they may trail cross-town rivals Horsham FC for pedigree in the competition – the Hornets having 13 triumphs over the years – YMCA do not lack history in the RUR Cup, winning finals in 2001 and 2014, with current manager Peter Buckland in charge on the latter occasion.
Twice reaching the Quarter Finals since, whilst consistently finishing in the SCFL’s upper reaches, Buckland’s side are an established force that, prior to the Uckers’ cup victory last season, had regularly prevailed in meetings between the two sides.
A difficult August, however, has left YM sitting in 17th in the SCFL Premier so far – a stark contrast to the 14 victories the side enjoyed in their first 17 league games of 2018-19.
The loss of key goalscorers Dean Bown and Alex Barbary was always likely to result in a period of adjustment, although with new recruit Matt Daniel firing them to FA Cup victory against Egham Town, it appears YM may fast be finding form again, in time to make another charge for cup honours.
With YM drawn as the home team, the tie will take place at Gorings Mead, Horsham, RH13 5BP, with a 3 p.m. kick-off.
Entry is £7 for adults and £5 for concessions. Further information is available on the club’s website, https://www.horshamymcafc.co.uk/.
As always, Uckers coverage will be led by the live tweeting of @AfcUckfieldTown, delivering news of all the goals, thrills and controversy.
Meanwhile, listeners can follow the action with David Eggleston on the Uckfield FM Saturday Sport programme from 2-6 p.m., where the latest updates will be available from Gorings Mead.
A full match report will be available later on Saturday, and with FA Cup action soon returning to Uckfield, a preview on the club’s replay will be available on Monday.
All the support the Uckers get for two crucial matches could be decisive, so your attendance for either match will be hugely appreciated.