Tonight, with a number of potentially fascinating ties, the Sussex Senior Cup returns for its Third Round stage – where AFC Uckfield Town will be the first club from the town to feature since the 2010-11 season, as they travel to National League south side Eastbourne Borough.
With a gap of three divisions to overcome if they want to progress even further in the competition, the Uckers will have to be at their very best at Priory Lane to take anything from a Sports outfit resurgent under manager Danny Bloor, but are sure to revel in the occasion, writes Will Hugall.
In a month where they had games in three competitions and were unable to play at home, November largely proved encouraging for Anthony Storey’s team, despite being a month where they had never gone unbeaten since 2014-15.
Ultimately, their 4-0 FA Vase defeat away at Binfield last weekend meant that record remained intact for another season, but with impressive victories at Walthamstow, Eastbourne United and Hassocks, the Uckers should feel confident in their progress.
Postponements elsewhere may have impacted on consistency, with matches against Crawley Down Gatwick and Horley both called off due to waterlogged pitches, and the Uckers tiring late in some matches as East Preston and Loxwood both came from behind to win points.
As a result, Anthony Storey’s side will appreciate the opportunity to get back to regular action at Priory Lane, and also to test themselves against another high-quality opponent from the Sussex coast in their Senior Cup run this term.
Having beaten Eastbourne Town, and then their close neighbours Eastbourne United Association, to get to this stage after earlier league defeats to both, the Uckers again demonstrated their steel in cup competitions, securing another record run since the club’s merger in 2014.
Opposition Lowdown: Eastbourne Borough FC
Needing very little introduction for most Sussex football fans, Eastbourne Borough are one of the county’s biggest clubs at present, and are consequently key contenders for the Senior Cup every season.
While the majority of their achievements have come since 2000, when they first became Eastbourne’s premier side in the pyramid, they still have a highly respectable Senior Cup pedigree, with three titles – in 2002, 2009 and 2016 – and another three Final appearances where they finished runners-up.
In the last 15 seasons, in fact, the Sports have only failed to reach the Quarter-Finals twice; in the 2013-14 season, following an away defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion, and in the 2005-06 season, with a Third Round exit to Crawley Town.
That kind of record is drastically different to the Uckers’, as the current club’s predecessors made it to the Third Round just twice in the same period; once as Wealden in 2005-06, and the other time as AFC Uckfield in 2010-11.
Far from being a match where the Uckers receive top billing, however, tonight’s meeting is likely to be dominated about talk of Borough’s resurgence.
Despite headlines recently being written about the Sports’ financial security, performances on the field have been impressive recently, and will give the Uckers plenty to consider.
Since Lee Bradbury departed as manager in late October, interim boss Sergio Torres and permanent appointment Bloor have helped extend a current unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions, and have the side sat 14th in the National League South at present.
A high-quality squad includes a host of familiar names, including Dean Cox, Greg Luer, Nick Wheeler, Kane Wills and Charlie Walker, who the Uckers will do their best to try to keep quiet if they are to make history at Priory Lane.
Eastbourne Borough FC v AFC Uckfield Town kicks off tonight at 7:45 p.m. at Priory Lane (Eastbourne, BN23 7QH), with directions to the ground available here; https://www.ebfc.co.uk/a/priory-lane–directions-18533.html?page=2.
Admission is £13 for adults, £9 for concessions, £5 for under-18s, and £1 for under-13s.
As ever, coverage throughout the game will be available from the @AfcUckfieldTown Twitter page; a full report will feature here on Uckfield FM in the hours after the game.
Come on you Uckers!