After reaching the 2018-19 Final with a record-equalling run, AFC Uckfield Town begin their 2019-20 Peter Bentley Cup campaign this Saturday as they host SCFL Division One side AFC Varndeanians – the first ever meeting between the two sides.
The traditional league cup competition of the Southern Combination Football League, the Peter Bentley Cup has never been won by an Uckfield team, with Anthony Storey’s side edged out by Saltdean United in May’s Final, while AFC Uckfield fell at the final hurdle when they lost to Three Bridges in 2012.
Since their promotion from the Mid-Sussex League in 2014-15, Varndeanians have only featured three times in the competition, and after expulsion in the Second Round last year are yet to progress into the Third Round.
After achieving two victories in their debut season in the FA Cup, however, the V’s know exactly how to carry out an upset, and are likely to pose a significant threat to the Uckers’ hopes of continuing their impressive cup form.
With league points ticking over, and possessing a bye to the FA Vase Second Round in November, the Uckers are able to focus their attention this weekend on emulating their feats last season.
A midweek draw (4-4) at Peacehaven & Telscombe was the Uckers’ third in five matches, with frustration both in that result and being narrowly knocked out of the FA Cup by VCD Athletic testament to the Uckers’ progress this season.
During that spell, a replay against VCD required their opening Peter Bentley Cup tie to be moved, and with neither side in FA Vase action this weekend, the Uckers meet Varndeanians looking to extend a record of never losing in the cup’s Second Round – even if they were expelled from that stage in 2017-18 after fielding an ineligible player.
Opposition Lowdown – AFC Varndeanians
Formed in 1929 after a renaming of the Brighton, Hove & District League side Secondary Old Boys, the V’s have for the majority of their history been composed entirely of former Varndean School pupils, being known as Old Varndeanians until 2015.
In that period, the club spent 16 seasons in the Sussex League from 1956 to 1973, with two of those in Division One. After spending the rest of their history back in the Brighton, Hove & District League and the Mid-Sussex League from 2003, they negotiated promotion to the SCFL Division Two in 2015, where with a name change and in their debut season at the Withdean Stadium they won the league at the first time of asking.
After surviving relegation in 2016-17 when no side below could replace them, the club achieved its highest finish for 57 years with a 3rd-place finish in the SCFL Division One last season, only missing out on promotion by six points.
That result secured their first ever qualification for FA Cup football, an opportunity that Kevin Keehan’s side took with both hands as they won dramatic ties at Crowborough Athletic and Guildford City before exiting in the First Qualifying Round.
Without a defeat in their league campaign so far, and only being knocked out of the FA Vase by Loxwood in a replay that went all the way to penalties, the V’s carry a burgeoning pedigree as a club for their first visit to The Oaks.
Admission for the match, which kicks off at 3 p.m., is £6 for adults, £3 for concessions, and free for children. Directions to The Oaks (Framfield, TN22 5QL) are available here.
Live updates throughout the match will be available across the @AfcUckfieldTown Twitter page and David Eggleston’s Saturday Sport programme from 2-6 p.m., while a full report will be available on Saturday evening.
As ever, we wish the club the best of luck and hope you can get behind them in any way you can for an intriguing tie that has to be settled on the day.
After the match, coverage of the First Round draw for the Sussex Senior Cup will also take place on BBC Radio Sussex and the Sussex FA Twitter page. The Uckers have been allocated ball number one, and will face one of the 35 other sides involved in the draw, made up of clubs from the SCFL Premier and Division One, as well as Crowborough of the SCEFL Premier.
You can listen to the draw from 5:50 p.m. on BBC Radio Sussex, or follow it from @SussexCountyFA on Twitter.