After standout seasons in 2018-19, AFC Uckfield Town and Horsham YMCA both trail the early leaders in the Southern Combination Premier Division this year, and after starting with great ambitions, will be keen to make up ground.
As they meet in a game previously rearranged due to cup involvements, Anthony Storey and Peter Buckland’s teams face off for the second time this season, this time with designs on securing all three points, writes Will Hugall.
Following a 2-1 defeat to Saltdean United three days ago, the Uckers were leapfrogged in the SCFL Premier Division table by the Tigers, and now sit 11th after seven matches, amongst a pack of sides looking to push on after mixed starts.
With a significant gap only opening up for the top two clubs, the Uckers know that if they can win today, they will go back to within three points of 3rd-placed Crawley Down Gatwick, potentially an encouraging place to be amidst several cup commitments so far.
However, defeat would see Buckland’s team draw level on points, and even if goal difference would likely prevent YM from overtaking them into 11th, that is a result the hosts will be looking to avoid for the sake of history, as well as league position.
For the only time the club has beaten YM at home, we have to go all the way back to the 2011-12 season, when predecessors AFC Uckfield came out 3-1 victors to complete the double over the West Sussex side that year.
Although the most recent two meetings have also seen Storey’s men come out on top – 3-2 in their Peter Bentley Cup Semi-Final in February, and 3-1 just over three weeks ago in the RUR Cup – YM’s dominance elsewhere, with ten wins in the seven years between, suggest this will be another closely fought match.
Opposition Lowdown – Horsham YMCA
Currently found 16th in the league table, and with a run to the FA Cup First Qualifying Round partially dampened by early exits in the Peter Bentley and RUR Cups, it may be fair to say that YM’s season is yet to really get going after a record-setting 2018-19.
In contrast to the 18 points the club picked up from their opening seven matches last season, they have just seven so far this term, and with four wins in all competitions from 12 games this is the club’s slowest start since 2011-12.
However, a team in a period of rebuilding have managed some notable results, including two league wins on the road, at the tricky venues of Loxwood and Saltdean United.
The occasion of the FA Cup has also appeared to bring the best out of the side, as they achieved victories against Croydon FC and Egham Town before a narrow 2-1 defeat to Margate.
With the returning Martin Smith and new recruit Matt Daniel both notching up six goals already, the persisting issue to securing wins seems instead to be in defence, where a run of 14 games without a clean sheet will want to be ended as soon as possible.
Alongside the Uckers’ own 11-game drought of clean sheets and the 48 goals shared in the two teams’ last ten meetings, however, one thing that can be almost guaranteed in this fixture is that there will be no shortage of goals.
As usual for midweek home games, kick-off for the match is 7:30 p.m., with no pitch inspection likely to be required despite forecasts for rain.
Admission is £6 for adults, £3 for concessions, and free for children.
Directions to The Oaks (Framfield, TN22 5QL) are available here.
Live updates will be available throughout the match on the @AfcUckfieldTown Twitter page, and also here on Uckfield FM, with a full report to follow on Wednesday afternoon.
We hope to see you down at The Oaks and supporting the Uckers for another crucial match in their aim to kick on up the table and repeat the heroics of 2018-19. Come on you