AFC Uckfield Town will play host to the first taste of the FA Cup in the town this season on Tuesday night, welcoming VCD Athletic for a Preliminary Round replay with a place in the next round at stake if they can achieve another upset.
While they impressed in successive cup ties at The Oaks last season, Anthony Storey’s side have had to earn their right to test the importance of home advantage so far in 2019-20, and know the reward of a home First Qualifying Round tie could be theirs if they can pull off another surprise result against Crayford’s Isthmian League outfit.
Portsmouth-based side Moneyfields await the winners of the tie, which is one of 34 to go to a replay in the Preliminary Round after the Uckers came back from a 3-1 deficit in South-East London to secure a 3-3 draw.
Since the sides last met on a sweltering afternoon at The Oakwood, Uckfield have had the stronger form, routing Langney Wanderers and securing RUR Cup progress at a historically tricky Gorings Mead, where they had previously lost four consecutive matches to Horsham YMCA.
The latter result paled into insignificance in the context of a serious injury to striker Callum Smith, however, and now expected to be ruled out for three months with a broken ankle, Smith’s absence will prompt a rethink from the Uckers management ahead of the Vickers’ visit.
Storey will be pleased with the Uckers’ scoring form so far this season in spite of injuries and suspensions, as the side have fired in 23 goals in their first eight matches, the most of any Southern Combination side across all competitions.
Maintaining such a flow of goals will be integral if the Uckers are to defy their short history in cup replays too, as when Wealden lost to Erith & Belvedere in the 2007-08 FA Vase and the current Uckers exited the 2017-18 FA Cup at the hands of Colliers Wood United, neither was able to score on the day.
Opposition Lowdown – VCD Athletic FC
Isthmian South East Division side VCD sit 9th after four matches of their league season so far, and are yet to join any cup competition beyond the FA Cup, where their start was much trickier than they would have liked.
Since relegation from the Isthmian Premier Division in the 2015-16 season, the Vickers have only progressed beyond the Preliminary Round once, and will be particularly determined to break that record in Sussex, where their last two exits have taken place. From a total of 17 meetings with Sussex sides in the competition, the Vickers have now won seven, lost seven and drawn three – ensuring that this game will at least break such symmetry.
Keith McMahon’s side will also be looking to disrupt an unwanted record in replays away from Oakwood, as while they have a perfect record in all FA competitions from four home replays, they have lost eight of 11 on the road. Their most recent two-legged ties, in the 2016-17 season, went some way to redeeming that, however, with wins at Croydon FC and Greenwich Borough.
Rather than statistics, it may well be experience that decides which side makes it through to the First Qualifying round, and after VCD captain Charlie MacDonald was unavailable in the 3-3 draw at Oakwood, hopes will be high that the former Football League player features, with his three goals only beaten by Kelvin Ogboe as the club’s top goalscorer so far.
The action will kick off at 7:45 p.m. at The Oaks, Framfield, TN22 5QL, with admission £6 for adults, £3 for concessions, and free for children. For details on the opposition, and the rest of the ties in the competition, you can visit https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/vcdathleticfc/ and http://www.thefa.com/competitions/thefacup.
Goal news and regular updates will be available from @AfcUckfieldTown and @105uckfieldfm on Twitter throughout, with a full report in the hours after the full-time whistle.
With the Uckers again going for a huge upset, home advantage will no doubt be a crucial factor, and your fantastic support will again be massively appreciated to help the team. We wish them the best of luck in what will no doubt be an entertaining and closely-fought match.