Sunday, 11 February 2018

TLFG: 12-18 February 2018

Greetings one and all. How has your week been?

I've been on a week of late shifts so my chances of seeing some live football were very slim indeed.

Instead my time has been taken up preparing for and hosting my five-year-old's birthday party (some regular readers may remember her being born) and getting in a training run for the Big Half in about three weeks time - it took me on an 18km route along the Thames to Brentford and back but saw me pick up yet another calf injury so I've been resting up for the last five days wondering whether or not I should train again before the race or how much.

On the football front more announcements were made regarding the Conifa World Football Cup which will be taking place here in London from 31 May-9 June.

Last week we discovered Sutton United would be one of the host venues but since then it has been revealed that Bromley and Enfield Town have been added to the list as well. 

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With north and south London well covered, hopefully we'll see some clubs in the east and west too - talks are said to have taken place with both QPR and Charlton but no announcements have yet been made.

The biggest event of the week from a London perspective must have been the North London Derby which Spurs won 1-0. Most Arsenal fans I know lost hope when the starting line-up was announced and their dreams of reaching the top four now look all but over.

With the match taking place at Wembley, the chances of getting a ticket greatly increased. Did you get one? How did it compare to a derby at White Hart Lane? How did the bigger venue and bigger crowd affect the intensity? I'd like to hear your views.

QPR and Poland midfielder Pawel Wszolek will be doing a live Q&A in Hammersmith
I've got a week off for half-term but will be up in Yorkshire for a midweek mini-break on Tuesday and Wednesday so I'm unlikely to catch any football then but there is a good chance on Saturday.

QPR v Bolton and Metropolitan Police v Harrow Borough are the two most obvious options for me. Tickets for the former should be easy to get hold of and relatively cheap on Twickets while I'm tempted to go to the latter as I've never been to Imber Court and really should tick it off my list.

Also this week if you're a QPR fan, Polish or ideally both then you might be interested in going to a live Q&A with Pawel Wszolek who plays for the R's and Poland. If you go you will also qualify to buy a ticket for QPR's forthcoming home match against Sunderland for only £5!

The event is taking place at 330pm on Tuesday 13 February at the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith and entry is free although you must reserve a place in advance. As someone who has been to the centre's cafe, I can vouch that they do great cakes! Thanks to TLFG reader Colin W for the tip off.

Lastly this week I'd like to give a big thank you to Wayne C from the USA and Christer S from Sweden who gave very generously to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund - it's very very much appreciated.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 70 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include some big games in the EFL and the next round of the FA Cup.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.
Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 12 February

Premier League
Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion @8pm - rocked by back-to-back defeats to Bournemouth and Watford, Antonio Conte and the Blues face another potential humiliation as the Baggies pay a visit to Stamford Bridge. Bottom of the league and with only three wins all season, Alan Pardew's side should be cannon fodder for a side of Chelsea's calibre but given their current form who knows???

Premier League Cup
There are two games in this U23 competition over the course of the day meaning you could comfortably attend both. Charlton Athletic open proceedings with a game against Stoke City at 2pm at Greenwich Borough's ground before Watford take on Blackburn Rovers at Wealdstone at 7pm. Please check all details with the respective clubs before you travel as they can change at short notice

Hertfordshire Senior Cup Semi-Final
Boreham Wood v Kings Langley @745pm - the best non-league option of the night is to be found at Meadow Park where five-times former champions Boreham Wood should start as strong favourites against a local rival who play two levels below them. It's unlikely the hosts will field a full-strength side and adult admission has been cut from £18 to £10 accordingly

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Tuesday 13 February

League One
Charlton Athletic v Bradford City @745pm - the match of the night takes place at The Valley where two of the biggest clubs in the division go head-to-head. Both former Premier League clubs are firmly in the hunt for a play-off place but Bradford's form has dropped off worryingly in recent weeks. The Addicks won the reverse fixture 1-0 and will feel hopeful of completing a double here

Middlesex Senior Cup Semi-Final
Wealdstone v Staines Town @745pm - with 11 wins from 21 appearances in the final, the Stones have an impressive history in this competition. Having seen off big rivals Hampton & Richmond in the previous round, they should fancy their chances against the Swans who play a level below and only just scraped past Uxbridge on penalties in the last round

Bostik League Premier Division
Hendon v Leiston @745pm - with only one win from six league games since the start of the year, 2018 hasn't been particularly kind to the Greens. However, they are still very much in touch with the top five and should return to it with a win here. Leiston are only a few points behind so it's likely to be a challenging game. Aside from anything else, Hendon are running a pre-Valentine's Day promotion of free entry for your partner so bring 'em along

Evo-Stik League East Division
Egham Town v Hayes & Yeading United @745pm - from a TLFG perspective the Sarnies have been the team to watch in this division over the last couple of years but having twice missed out in the play-offs, their chance to go up seems to have been missed. Stuck in the lower midtable doldrums, Egham won't be going anywhere this year. Hayes & Yeading, however, are strongly in contention for a top-five finish and could conceivably have an outside shot at the title. If they win here, it will be their ninth in 10 games

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Cockfosters v Hadley @745pm - there was a lot of talk about the North London Derby over the weekend - well this is another one. Little is riding on this in terms of the league but local bragging rights are up for grabs for these two clubs from either side of Barnet

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Harefield United v Southall @745pm - head down to Preston Park on Tuesday if you want to see local-side-in-exile Southall who arrive in Harefield as the division's top club. Playing their home games all the way out at Burnham clearly hasn't adversely affected the visitors who are having their best season for years

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Wednesday 14 February

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Balham v Horley Town @745pm - with the top four sides so much better than everyone else, this midtable clash in the middle of February already has the look of a dead rubber about it even when you consider that the hosts have five or six games in hand on most of those above them. This match could play a crucial part in determining who finishes fifth which is pretty much the best either of these sides can hope for
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Friday 16 February

FA Cup Fifth Round
Chelsea v Hull City @8pm - with the FA Cup down to its last 16 teams things are starting to get serious. Out of contention in the league and also out of the EFL Cup, this is the Blues' one chance of domestic silverware this season so you'd hope they'd field a strong team to get the job done. Hull got relegated from the Premier League last season and have had a terrible time in the Championship with Saturday's win at Nottingham Forest lifting them out of the bottom three in what is a tight relegation fight between at least six clubs, five of which were in the Premier League at some point. The Tigers are also winless in 15 against Chelsea in all competitions and have to go way back to 1988 to find their last one. This match also represents your only chance of seeing a Premier League team in action this weekend as all our other local sides have been eliminated already or are playing away - thankfully tickets are on sale to non-members for a not unreasonable £30

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Saturday 17 February

Championship
Fulham v Aston Villa @3pm - the match of the day on Saturday should be this clash between two promotion contenders at Craven Cottage. With four wins and a draw and five wins on the bounce respectively, these two are also currently top of the division's form table so it should be a cracker. With Villa among the biggest sides in the country, let alone the division, a decent crowd is expected for what could be a thrilling showdown. A few tickets are still available to non-members but don't hang around
Queens Park Rangers v Bolton Wanderers @3pm - a couple of miles up the road in Shepherd's Bush we have a far less enticing fixture between two sides looking to make sure of avoiding the drop. QPR are eight points clear of the relegation zone so should be alright but the Trotters are much closer to the trap door and could end the day in the bottom three if they lose here. If you are keen to go to this, check the Twickets re-sale website (fully endorsed by QPR - you pick your ticket from the box office) which should see you be able pick up a ticket for below face value

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Bristol Rovers @3pm - after suffering morale-crushing defeats to fellow strugglers Bury and Northampton, hopes of a Dons renaissance are starting to fade. Next up are midtable Rovers who despite being down in 11th still have a chance of challenging for a place in the top six. The hosts managed to win the reverse fixture in Bristol back in November so this should give them some belief

League Two
Barnet v Accrington Stanley @3pm - the Bees fightback is on after the division's bottom club recorded a shock 1-0 win over high flying Notts County on Saturday. After an important game at Yeovil in midweek, Graham Westley's side return to The Hive to face the team currently in second. It's going to be another tough ask but who knows?

National League
Sutton United v Wrexham @3pm - with just eight points separating the top nine clubs, any game between teams in that group is going to be important. At the time of writing, Sutton are fifth and Wrexham third. With the U's averaging crowds of over 2,000 and Wrexham over double that, we could see a very large attendance indeed
Boreham Wood v Gateshead @3pm - in the division's other game, The Wood are still well in the hunt for honours themselves. With only one league defeat since the start of the year they should be confident of beating their north-eastern opponents but mindful of the fact that they were recently beaten by them in the FA Trophy

National League South
Wealdstone v Dartford @3pm - the Stones' long journey down to Cornwall to play Truro on Saturday saw them rewarded with an important victory which extended their winning run to three games and closed the gap on the play-off places to five points. Here they welcome the long term league leaders who seem to have been top forever despite another tight title race. Sadly for the Darts you feel that their tenure at the top could be coming to an end. With two defeats on the trot and the two below them both having games in hand, their current two-point lead looks pretty flimsy. In essence, they badly need to win here

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Enfield Town @3pm - the Hamlet had their game at Lowestoft postponed on Saturday meaning they missed the chance to return to the top after Billericay only managed to draw at Met Police. Their next home game is against the Towners who have been up among the play-off places with Dulwich in recent seasons but have failed to fire this time round and are way down in 18th. Despite this, their support has held up reasonably well and you'd like to think a crowd of at least 1,500 will be present

Bostik League South Division
Cray Wanderers v Carshalton Athletic @3pm - two former Premier Division sides do battle to get back up after several years away from the league's top flight. Cray beat Ramsgate on Saturday to go top and take full advantage of title rivals Lewes' postponement. Like some of those mentioned above, this division is also witnessing a very exciting title race with only six points between the top six clubs. Carshalton are part of that leading pack so this game has quite a bit riding on it

Combined Counties League Premier Division
CB Hounslow United v Hanworth Villa @3pm - in terms of the league this isn't a hugely important game but it is a derby and if you're a groundhopper it gives you a chance to check out the hosts' new ground which is receiving rave reviews

Essex Senior League
Wadham Lodge v Waltham Forest @3pm - the Walthamstow derby between two sides who groundshare. Neither side is having a great season but a derby's a derby so it should be worth a watch

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Beckenham Town v Tunbridge Wells @3pm - the Becks have made solid progress on the pitch this season and are challenging hard for the title, so much so that a hefty win in this game against relegation threatened opponents could put them top

Combined Counties League Division 1
Raynes Park Vale v Worcester Park @3pm - it's derby day in SW20 as RPV welcome near neighbours and title favourites Worcester Park. Although down in eighth, the hosts could conceivably begin a promotion push with a win here, especially when you consider the visitors can't be promoted because their ground isn't up to scratch

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Sunday 18 February

Women's FA Cup Fifth Round
Arsenal v Millwall Lionesses @2pm - there are several women's games on Sunday but this one is my top pick as it's a derby. The Gunners play a division above the Lionesses so should start as strong favourites
Chelsea v Doncaster Rovers Belles @2pm - in terms of quality then this might actually be a better watch as it pits the team who are second in the country against the team who are top of the division below


GET INVOLVED
If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. If you're interested in reviewing a ground in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Monday, 5 February 2018

TLFG: 5-11 February 2018

For most people the focus this week has been domestic football but not for me.

My sights have been more on upcoming international events and how this blog will cover them.

No sooner had I published last week's piece than one regular reader tipped me off that there could be yet another friendly taking place in London in the last week of March.

At the moment it's still to be confirmed but it's set to be another Africa v Europe clash so I'll let you know if I hear any more.

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Aside from that, Conifa announced who will be playing in the opening group games of the World Football Cup and where.

National League side Sutton United will play host to the opening two games on 31 May as Ellan Vannin (aka the Isle of Man) take on Cascadia (which is basically the area of North America around Seattle and Vancouver) before Padania (northern Italy) face Matabeleland (western Zimbabwe) later in the day.

Tickets go on sale on Monday and will cost from £10 - presumably for a doubleheader but that will need confirmation.



As I understand it, the next host venue and set of fixtures will be announced on Tuesday. 

Aside from some great results for a few of our local Premier League and EFL sides this weekend it was also a big few days in FA Trophy and FA Vase. 

Sadly we don't have any local interest in the Vase but I'm pleased to say that Leyton Orient and Wealdstone both made it through to the quarter-finals. Bromley might also join them but they have to get through a replay with Workington on Tuesday first.



Don't forget that tickets for Non-League Finals Day at Wembley on 20 May where the finals of both these competitions are played back-to-back are on sale now.

Regular readers might remember a couple of weeks ago this blog featured coverage of a match at the small stadium next to West Ham's ground which drew in quite a few groundhoppers.

I'm pleased to report that as of next season, Essex Senior League side Hackney Wick will be moving there so there'll be plenty more chances to pay it a visit.

Lastly, a very big thanks to Simon K from London who became the latest person to donate to TLFG's coffee drinking fund - it's hugely appreciated and keeps me going so cheers!

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include some big derbies in the Premier League and some huge matches in the National League.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.
Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 5 February

Premier League
Watford v Chelsea @8pm - the week gets underway with a derby at Vicarage Road. The Hornets are badly out of form at the moment and need to get something from this game. Chelsea come into this match on the back of their humbling 3-0 defeat by Bournemouth so boss Antonio Conte will be looking for a strong response

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Everton @7pm - there are a number of U23 games on Monday but this game between two of the top five sides in the country is the standout fixture. The match is being played at Boreham Wood's ground - as with all youth fixtures, please make sure you check all the details before you travel as venues and kick-off times can change at short notice

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Basildon United @745pm - the best non-league option is to be found at the Mile End Stadium where the hosts welcome the title-chasing Bees

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Tuesday 6 February

FA Trophy Third Round Replay
Bromley v Workington AFC @745pm - with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs, a trip to Wembley in getting close for both teams. Although playing two divisions below their opponents, Workington gave a spirited display against Bromley on Saturday but had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Whether they have enough to beat them in the replay remains to be seen - the 650-mile round trip on a Tuesday night probably won't help

Bostik League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Tooting & Mitcham United @745pm - with the hosts pushing for a play-off place and the Terrors desperate to avoid the drop, this game is of equal importance at either end of the table

London Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Dulwich Hamlet v Harrow Borough @745pm - despite being one of the biggest sides in the competition and having won it five times, Dulwich haven't made the final since 2004. Currently the highest ranked side left in the competition, they should start as favourites here. However, they are likely to rest a few players and this would seem to be reflected in the admission price which has been cut to £6 for adults. Harrow are in the same division as Dulwich but are a much smaller club and have never made the final

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Great Wakering Rovers @745pm - the Motormen had another game postponed on Saturday but their nearest rivals failed to take advantage. Great Wakering won at Sporting Bengal to stay fourth but crucially they closed the gap on the leading trio. With a game in hand as well, a win here could put them firmly in contention

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Wednesday 7 February

FA Cup Fourth Round Replay
Tottenham Hotspur v Newport County @745pm - Spurs should have seen off their League Two opponents at the first attempt but could only manage a 1-1 draw last weekend. Given the Premier League title is beyond them then I'd hope they'll go for it this time and make sure of their place in the next round. Tickets for this match are also only £10 or £15 depending on where you sit

Bostik League South Division
Thamesmead Town v VCD Athletic @745pm - both sides are in midtable so there's not a huge amount riding on it but with the pressure off, it could be a cracker

London Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Cray Valley PM v Croydon @745pm - CVPM shocked a number of bigger clubs to win the cup last year and continue the defence of their title against a fellow ninth-tier side
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Friday 9 February

Championship
Millwall v Cardiff City @745pm - get the weekend underway with this intriguing looking match in the second tier as the Lions welcome the Bluebirds from Wales. Although 16 points apart in the table, when it comes to current form these two are neck-and-neck. With two of the fieriest sets of supporters in the division, it could get lively although the Friday night scheduling for TV could well see the attendance hit

Professional Development League
Watford v Coventry City @2pm - earlier in the day we have an U23 game which is currently scheduled to be played at Watford's training ground but check all the details before you travel

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Sutton Common Rovers v Colliers Wood United @745pm - if neither of the above take your fancy, there's also a decent ninth-tier match between two south London clubs at Gander Green Lane. With leaders Westfield looking increasingly uncatchable, SCR are very much in the race to finish as runners-up

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Saturday 10 February

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal @1230pm - without question the match of the week is this - the second North London Derby of the season. Taking place at Wembley, a huge crowd of 80,000+ is expected for what will hopefully be a great advert for the Premier League. Spurs are really starting to impress at their temporary home with Everton and Manchester United defeated with relative ease in recent games. The Gunners have been shaky this season but with the likes of Sanchez, Giroud and Walcott out and Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan in during the transfer window, the squad has been significantly freshened up. The results were instant with both new signings making their mark during a 5-1 thrashing of Everton on Saturday. Historically Arsenal have dominated the north London football landscape and they won the reverse fixture 2-0 back in November. With three of the last five games ending in a draw, I think we'll get another one here. As a side issue, the early kick-off should make it just about possible to combine this with another game - Barnet and Hendon would seem the best options
West Ham United v Watford @3pm - with tickets all but impossible to get for the match above, there are still quite a few available for this via the Hammers' re-sale site. A derby in its own right too and with both sides fighting to avoid the drop, this should be well worth a watch. As mentioned above, Watford are in terrible form but they did beat West Ham 2-0 earlier in the season so should have some belief in turning things around

Championship
Brentford v Preston North End @3pm - sitting just outside the play-off places, PNE are one of the teams the Bees simply have to beat if they are to mount a promotion challenge themselves. Things were looking promising for Dean Smith's side until back-to-back defeats left them eight points behind the top six. However, Brentford have an absolutely superb record against Preston winning eight, drawing one and losing just one of their last 10 games against them (home and away) with the last game at Deepdale ending in a 3-2 win - more of the same please

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Northampton Town @3pm - with three wins and a draw, January was an excellent month for the Dons who started to push away from the bottom four. Sadly, February began with defeat at Rotherham and defeat here to fellow strugglers Northampton could see them slide right back into the bottom four

League Two
Barnet v Notts County @3pm - the appointment of new manager Graham Westley in mid-January halted the run of defeats but the draws with Lincoln and Cheltenham appear to have been but a brief respite for the Bees. On Saturday they lost at Mansfield to stay rooted to the bottom and with promotion chasing Notts County next to visit, it's likely to stay that way

National League
Leyton Orient v Tranmere Rovers @3pm - two of the biggest clubs in non-league football meet at Brisbane Road for a match that could draw a bigger crowd than some of the games in League One. Both sides have seen far better days and it's still a shock to see either playing at this level. The O's made it through to the FA Trophy quarter-finals on Saturday after winning a thriller at Dover and are well on course to make it to Wembley. Tranmere's focus is more on the league which they could easily win - with only six points separating the top eight teams, it's anyone's!
Bromley v Maidstone United @3pm - the hosts are among the title-chasing pack and could edge into the top five if they win here. Although Maidstone will more than likely end up in midtable, they too are one of the biggest sides in the division and there should be a sizeable crowd for this too as it's a Kent derby
Dagenham & Redbridge v Aldershot Town @530pm - an absolute barnstormer of day in the National League concludes with this TV game at Victoria Road where the Daggers welcome another one of the title contenders. Although not a derby as such, Aldershot is close to London so a significant number of away fans should be expected to travel. Also, the late kick-off should enable you to combine this game with one of the earlier kick-offs in the Bostik League at either AFC Hornchurch or Barking

National League South
Dartford v Chelmsford City @3pm - despite intense competition in this division too, the Darts have managed to keep themselves at the top for quite a while now. Although they got stuffed at St Albans on Saturday, nearest rivals Hampton & Richmond also lost to Bath meaning they stayed three points clear. Chelmsford were contenders themselves but a poor run has seen them drop to eighth - they should still be tough opponents though

Bostik League Premier Division
Metropolitan Police v Billericay Town @3pm - the Met earned an excellent point at title-chasing Dulwich on Saturday. The result ensured leaders Billericay, who were playing in the FA Trophy, remained top. The big-spending Essex club are scoring an average of three goals a game this season and will start as overwhelming favourites at Imber Court

Bostik League North Division
AFC Hornchurch v Haringey Borough @3pm - the Urchins took another big stride towards the title with a 3-0 win at Hertford on Saturday. The result leaves them 13 points clear with 13 games to go - mathematically they could still blow it but given their current form it seems highly unlikely. Haringey beat Brentwood 1-0 to keep their place in the top seven and their promotion hopes alive

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Basildon United @3pm - depending on midweek results these two could be the top two in the league by Saturday. It's possible that a win for Basildon here could see them end the day only a point behind the Motormen

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Sunday 11 February

FA Women's Super League 1
Arsenal v Yeovil Town @2pm - currently fourth but miles off title pace, a bit like the men's team, the Gunners welcome the division's bottom club who have lost all seven of their matches this season

A bit further afield
There are several women's games on in London on Sunday but if that's not for you there are a couple of other matches you might want to consider within 70 miles of London. First off in the Premier League there is the big game between Southampton and Liverpool at 430pm. Tickets were still available when I last looked but a previous purchasing history with the Saints was a requirement. A more realistic option is the 1pm kick-off in the Evo-Stik League East Division between AFC Dunstable and Hartley Wintney - both are in the top four so it should be good



GET INVOLVED
If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. If you're interested in reviewing a ground in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

TLFG: 29 January - 4 February 2018

As we come to the end of the another month, it's good to see the days getting longer and whole Saturday afternoon matches being played in daylight.

The approach of summer brings promise of the quadrennial* football feast that is the World Cup and to get us in the mood we now effectively have a mini version of the tournament taking place on one day at the end of March!

I'm not talking about the eagerly anticipated Conifa World Football Cup at the end of May but the group of friendlies that have so far been announced for 27 March.

Top billing, unsurprisingly, goes to England v Italy at Wembley, last week we brought news of Australia v Colombia at Craven Cottage and now we've also learned of Nigeria v Serbia at The Hive (thanks to Niels VM for the tip-off).

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Ironically of the teams above, it is Italy - the third most successful team in World Cup history - who are the only ones not going to Russia for this year's tournament.

It's a shame the games are taking place on the same day at the same time as it would be nice to have seen at least a couple of them. So which one will you pick?

In other news, many congratulations are due to Arsenal for edging past Chelsea into the EFL Cup Final at Wembley next month.

Last week I predicted they'd probably have the edge and I backed this up by taking part in a free-to-enter Facebook competition run by my local Turkish takeaway to predict the exact score. I went with 2-1 and won a £25 online voucher. Yum!

I also travelled down to the West Country on Saturday to watch QPR take on Championship side-of-the-moment Bristol City.

After their impressive EFL Cup exploits which saw them beat Manchester United and then narrowly lose to Manchester City over two legs in the semi-final, I wasn't expecting all that much.

Ashton Gate has been hugely developed since I last went there seven or eight years ago and would more than hold its own in the Premier League.

Charlton Athletic's very popular 'Football For A Fiver' promotion is back
The stewards and staff are reputed to be among the friendliest and most helpful in the country and I definitely found that to be the case - more on that later.

Probably the only drawback is its distance from the station and town centre but there are shuttle buses and taxis and at about 2.5 miles it is possible to walk if you arrive in good time.

The first half an hour went well enough with our defence soaking up most of what came its way fairly comfortably.

Then shortly after the half hour City had a man sent off for a rash tackle and the Rangers faithful started to get excited.

Sadly, and not for the first time, it didn't work out like that with the hosts scoring from a corner right on half-time and then nicking another on the counter midway through the second half after surviving a concerted spell of pressure.

QPR did keep pushing but shots on target were few and far between and the match ended 2-0 amid heavy swirling drizzle.

Tickets for this year's Non-League Finals Day at Wembley are on sale now
As a few of us loitered around outside waiting for friends and chewing over the debacle, one of the catering staff appeared carrying a tray heaped high with warm unsold pasties and encouraged us to fill our boots, improving the mood markedly - so thanks very much to the lady in question.

Looking ahead to 24 February, Charlton Athletic are running their very popular 'Football For A Fiver' promotion where all adult tickets are just £5. Interestingly they've picked the home game against title contenders Shrewsbury Town who recently took West Ham United to a replay in the FA Cup so it should be a good game.

Lastly, this weekend sees the next rounds of the FA Trophy and FA Vase. Don't forget that tickets for Non-League Finals Day at Wembley on 20 May where the finals of both these competitions are played back-to-back are also on sale now.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include the return of the Premier League and the next round of the FA Trophy.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.
Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 29 January

Professional Development League
There are a couple of U23 games on Monday afternoon with Charlton Athletic and Watford both playing at 'home'. The Addicks' match against Bristol City is being played at Greenwich Borough's ground so I'd recommend that as facilities for spectators will be a lot better than those at the Hornets' training ground

Bostik League North Division
Haringey Borough v Tilbury @745pm - the best of the day's non-league action should be found at Coles Park where the hosts will look to win and keep up with their fellow play-off contenders

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Tuesday 30 January

Premier League
West Ham United v Crystal Palace @745pm - there's a full midweek programme of Premier League games this week with this fine looking London derby dominating proceedings on Tuesday night. Both sides have climbed to what appear to be fairly healthy midtable positions but with only six points separating the teams in 10th and 20th, they're both very much still in the battle to avoid relegation so a win will be valuable for both. If you want to go, there are still quite a few tickets available via the club's resale scheme

Championship
Millwall v Derby County @745pm - over the river in Bermondsey there's an intriguing clash between the Lions and promotion contenders Derby. The Rams are on a fantastic nine game unbeaten run and have climbed to second as a result. Part of this streak saw a 3-0 win over Millwall just before Christmas so they'll start as favourites against their midtable opponents

Friendly
Brentford B v Bristol Rovers U23 @1pm - it's possible to see two games in one day if you combine this match with one of the later evening kick-offs. This game will take place at Brentford's training ground - the public are usually admitted but double check all the details before you travel

Bostik League Premier Division
Hendon v Leatherhead @745pm - the top non-league game of the night sees two play-off hopefuls meet at Silver Jubilee Park. Although currently down in seventh and 10th respectively, both have games in hand on most of those above them so could climb the table considerably

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Stansted @745pm - the Motormen took full advantage of their nearest rivals not playing on Saturday with a 4-1 win at Waltham Forest to go six points clear at the top. If FC Romania lose at Barkingside on Monday then Redbridge will go nine points clear with a victory here
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Wednesday 31 January

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United @8pm - the match of the week is this clash of the Titans at Wembley. Worthy of any cup final line-up, this relatively humble league game is pretty much sold out as you would expect. Both sides are unbeaten in five with three wins and two draws but whilst United brushed past League Two strugglers Yeovil in the FA Cup on Friday, Spurs could only manage a draw against Newport from the same division. Although the Red Devils historically have a far better head-to-head record against their London rivals, Tottenham are unbeaten in five at home against the Old Trafford club
Chelsea v AFC Bournemouth @745pm - in terms of form these two are both among the best in the division right now but in pretty much every other respect there are light years between them. The Cherries sensationally beat the Blues at Stamford Bridge when they joined the Premier League back in 2015 but have lost the five games since then including two matches (one in the EFL Cup) this season so it's going to be very tough for them

Bostik League North Division
Romford v AFC Hornchurch @745pm - if you're struggling to get a ticket for either of the above, and you probably will, then this Essex derby between teams at opposite ends of the table could be a reasonable alternative
-------------------------------------------------------------

Thursday 1 February

FA Women's Super League 1
Chelsea v Manchester City @7pm - get the new month underway with this massive women's game at Kingsmeadow. The two biggest and best teams in the country go head-to-head in this rearranged fixture with top spot up for grabs

----------------------------------------------------------------

Friday 2 February

Premier League 2
Fulham v Blackburn Rovers @7pm - the Cottagers welcome PL2 Division 2 leaders Blackburn to Mostpur Park for what could be a very interesting U23 game

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday 3 February

Premier League
Arsenal v Everton @530pm - I think I'm right in saying that these are the two longest serving clubs in the top flight with neither having suffered a relegation for decades - in Arsenal's case since 1919. Sadly, neither have won the league title for a long time and neither are going to get anywhere near this year. For the Gunners, a place in the top four is still achievable while survival is still the priority for Sam Allardyce's team despite being in ninth - a home win should be the order of the day

Championship
Fulham v Nottingham Forest @3pm - the team from SW6 recorded their fourth win on the bounce on Saturday to finally move into the top six. The west London club are in great form at the moment and are desperately hoping to improve on their impressive performance last season which ended with a play-off defeat to Reading. Forest are in midtable and should be there for the taking but the beauty of this division is that everyone is beatable
Queens Park Rangers v Barnsley @3pm - after the dismal display at Bristol City on Saturday, there will be huge pressure on Rangers to win this game. Barnsley at home is usually a banker for QPR - they've won the last 10 and the current Tykes side aren't particularly special but all runs have to end at some point...

League One
Charlton Athletic v Oxford United @3pm - the Addicks finally surrendered their place in the top six to Rotherham during the week and failed to take it back as their game at Blackpool got postponed on Saturday. With three wins in a row, they're still in good form and an Oxford side with three defeats in five look vulnerable

FA Trophy Third Round
Wealdstone v Warrington Town @3pm - aside from the top division of the National League, all non-league teams play in regionalised leagues so when they enter national cup competitions like this one it often leads to some unusual match-ups. I could be wrong but I doubt these two have ever played before. The Stones won the competition back in 1985 and enjoyed a great run to the semi-finals in 2012. The Wire hail from Cheshire and are one of the top clubs playing at the level below Wealdstone. If they win this last-16 tie it will equal their best ever performance in the FA Trophy

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Metropolitan Police @3pm - the hosts saw their game at Leatherhead postponed on Saturday and their lead at the top cut to just two points as nearest rivals Billericay thrashed struggling Tooting 6-2 at Imperial Fields. Given that the Blues still have seven games in hand, Dulwich's time at the top will soon be over. If they are to keep themselves in with a chance then they've got to get back to winning ways soon but in Met Police they face another top six side. Having lost their last two home games to Merstham and Wingate & Finchley, it could be another tough afternoon

Bostik League South Division
Thamesmead Town v Lewes @3pm - after winning last weekend's top of the table clash against Cray, Lewes have managed to stay just ahead of their south-east London rivals. After nicking a late draw against Walton Casuals on Saturday, the Rooks are now two points clear and can't really afford any slip ups if they're to stay out of the play-off places. Thamesmead are ticking over nicely enough in midtable with their recent games producing loads of goals (there have been 24 in their last five matches) and the reverse fixture ended in a 2-2 draw

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Fisher v K Sports @3pm - currently third, the Fish are London's main challengers in this division and will hope to return to the ninth tier as soon as possible. K Sports are currently top and will provide a stern test for the Rotherhithe club
------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday 4 February

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United @215pm - the Magpies are set to spend their second Sunday in a row in London following this weekend's FA Cup defeat at Chelsea. Now both out of the nation's premier cup competition, both sides can concentrate on the more important task of securing top-flight survival. Newcastle sneaked a 1-0 win in the reverse fixture shortly after Roy Hodgson's arrival at Palace in October. Consequently I think they'll find the current Eagles side much improved and could struggle

Women's FA Cup Fourth Round

London Bees v Chelsea @2pm - we're now down to the last 32 and the draw has thrown up this interesting London derby. The hosts play in the second tier of the women's game and will do really well to make progress as the Blues could well be the top side in the land by the time this kicks off
Millwall Lionesses v Coventry United @3pm - in the other London tie there could also be a mismatch as FAWSL2 leaders Millwall host a side from the tier below


GET INVOLVED
If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. If you're interested in reviewing a ground in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Has this blog been helpful? Donate to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund here

*don't worry, I had to look this up before using it

Sunday, 21 January 2018

TLFG: 22-28 January 2018

Welcome one and all to this week's guide.

As usual there's plenty going on but at the top end, very few of our local Premier League or Championship teams are playing at home because of the next round of the FA Cup.

However, don't let that put you off as several of the ones that are in town are offering cheaper tickets than normal (Chelsea in particular) and there are a few other great deals around too.

For me, the most eye-catching prices are to be found at Dagenham & Redbridge who are hosting their annual 'Daggers Against Racism Day'. 

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Tickets for the National League match against Solihull Moors are just £2.50 if you want to stand or £9.99 if you'd prefer a seat. They're even cheaper for concessions and kids - however, you must buy them in advance to get those prices.

The club deserve a lot of credit for putting on this event in area which (in)famously elected 12 BNP councillors back in 2006 to make them the official opposition to the Labour Party. There was also some minor disorder at a previous anti-racism game back in 2012 but that, thankfully, that doesn't seem to have been repeated.

Looking ahead a couple of months, if the England v Italy game at Wembley isn't for you then you might prefer another international friendly which was announced this week (thanks a lot to TLFG reader Colin W for the tip-off).

Don't forget - prices increase on the day so BOOK NOW!

It has been the custom for many years now for Australia to play mid-season friendlies in London as most of their players are based in Europe and there's a large community of supporters based in the capital.

They started off using QPR's Loftus Road but now more frequently use Fulham's Craven Cottage which is where they'll be entertaining fellow World Cup qualifiers Colombia on 27 March at 8pm. Tickets go on sale for £25 on 29 January.

I'm a bit of a sucker for games like this and last went to the Nigeria v Senegal game at Barnet's ground back in March. It's quite possible other friendlies could be announced in London before the World Cup so let me know if you hear of anything.

Despite another hectic work schedule, I can actually say that I've got a game booked for this Saturday with my ticket already purchased for QPR's away game at Bristol City.

The main reason I'm going is to visit family and friends but thought I might as well look in on this too while I'm down there.

I've been to Ashton Gate quite a few times over the years but it's been a while and the ground has been developed a lot so it'll be interesting to see what it's like. Hopefully City will still be feeling the effects of their midweek EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester City otherwise we could be in for a hiding!

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include an EFL Cup Semi-Final and the next round of the FA Cup.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.
Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 22 January

Premier League Cup
Watford v Southampton @7pm - a decent looking U23 game being played at Wealdstone's ground in Ruislip gets the week underway. Tickets for adults are only £5 so it's pretty good value too

Bostik League North Division
Haringey Borough v Potters Bar Town @745pm - the best of the day's non-league action should be found at Coles Park where the clubs in seventh and sixth meet for a chance to break into the top five

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Tuesday 23 January

EFL Trophy Quarter-Final
Chelsea U21 v Oxford United @730pm - if you didn't already know, this competition pits U21 sides from a selection of Premier League and Championship clubs against first team squads from clubs in League One and League Two in an attempt to give the best youngsters the chance of some 'proper' football against some hardened pros. The concept hasn't really been embraced by anyone involved, particularly the lower league clubs and their fans, and crowds have been poor as a result. The best thing about this match is that it will give you the chance to see a match at Stamford Bridge for just £5

Premier League International Cup
Arsenal v Bayern Munich @7pm - if you want to take a look at some of the best up and coming talent in Europe then you'll probably do much better to make your way up to Boreham Wood to watch this U23 match - as always, check with Arsenal before you travel to make sure of all the details

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Wingate & Finchley @745pm - Gavin Rose's side suffered an unexpected loss at home to Merstham on Saturday as they failed to take the opportunity to extend their lead over Billericay who had their game called off. Their five-point lead at the top looks good until you notice their Essex rivals have a whopping seven games in hand and it looks even more flimsy when you also bear in mind Glenn Tamplin's team have only lost one league game all season. On paper, Wingate are a better side than Merstham so could make life hard again

Bostik League North Division
AFC Hornchurch v Barking @745pm - the Urchins' four-game winning streak came to an end on Saturday as they were held to a 0-0 draw by fellow promotion hopefuls Dereham. On Tuesday the leaders next welcome local rivals Barking who are also in with a chance of going up

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Bedfont Sports v Westfield @745pm - one of the games of the week at non-league level sees the top two in the CCL battle for supremacy. The visitors have been top for ages and seemed to be coasting to the title. However, with three of their last six games getting postponed, Bedfont have won eight of their last 10 to draw level. Although Westfield have far superior goal difference and four games in hand, it's made the title race interesting again and if the hosts win who knows what might happen?
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Wednesday 24 January

EFL Cup Semi-Final second leg
Arsenal v Chelsea @8pm - the match of the week is this big London derby where a place in a Wembley cup final is up for grabs. After the first leg ended goalless, the Gunners should start as marginal favourites. Both sides enjoyed emphatic victories in the league on Saturday but given this is Arsenal's only realistic chance of silverware this season, you'd hope Arsene Wenger will pick a full-strength side

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
London Lions v Baldock Town @8pm - if you can't get a ticket for the match above, then this one elsewhere in north London could be your next best alternative. Although way down in the 10th tier, this match between two of the division's top three also has plenty riding on it
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Friday 26 January

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Barkingside @745pm - there's not a huge amount riding on this game, although being down in 17th the visitors could do with the points, but it's a game and it should keep you entertained. The ground is a few minutes walk from Mile End Tube station so is pretty easy to get to

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Saturday 27 January

Championship
Brentford v Norwich City @3pm - it's FA Cup Fourth Round which means all our local Premier League clubs are either playing away on or not playing at all on Saturday. As a result, this second-tier game becomes the best one on offer. The Bees, as one of the smallest clubs in the division, are defying all the odds again and pushing for a play-off place. With four wins from five they've moved to within touching distance of the top six - if they win this and results go their way then they'll be in it. Norwich have been inconsistent and are sitting snugly in midtable which will almost certainly be seen as disappointing by their fans. Brentford are winless in three against the Canaries at Griffin Park so they'll want to put that right

FA Cup Fourth Round
Millwall v Rochdale @3pm - given some of the ties that could have come out of the FA's velvet bag of fate, this is possibly one of the most uninspiring possible. With all due respect, a match between a midtable Championship side and one towards the bottom of League One doesn't get the pulse racing (a bit like QPR v MK Dons in the previous round). It also seems ambitious to be charging £15 for a ticket but that's the going rate

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Solihull Moors @3pm - if it's value you're after then the deal of the day is to be found way out east where it's the annual 'Daggers Against Racism Day' and tickets to stand are only £2.50 while seats are just £9.99 - however these prices only apply if you buy in advance. As for the game itself, Dagenham seem to be losing their mojo and have slipped to 10th but the table is tight and a win over a struggling but resurgent Moors side could put them right back among the leading pack
Leyton Orient v Aldershot Town @3pm - a bigger crowd will almost certainly be found at Brisbane Road where two of the biggest clubs in the division do battle. The O's are fighting relegation and with only one loss in five games they seem to be turning things around. The Shots, on the other hand, could go top if they win

National League South
Dartford v Whitehawk @3pm - top plays bottom at Princes Park but the game might not be as one sided as the league table suggests. The visitors are one of the form teams of the division who are showing good signs of recovery after a dreadful start. Still a whopping 12 points adrift of safety, they've got an almost impossible task to avoid the drop but a win here could work wonders

Bostik League Premier Divsion
Hendon v Folkestone Invicta @3pm - two of the top five meet at Silver Jubilee Park for what will hopefully be an entertaining encounter chock full of goals. As two of the division's highest scoring clubs with 60 goals apiece, the clubs produced a five-goal thriller the last time they met back in September
Tooting & Mitcham United v Billericay Town @3pm - a match of big importance at either end of the table as the relegation threatened hosts look to fend off a powerful raiding party from the east

Evo-Stik League East Division
Hayes & Yeading United v AFC Dunstable @3pm - six wins on the trot, culminating in a 9-1 win over Arlesey Town on Saturday, have powered United to fourth in the table. Only four points behind third placed AFC Dunstable and with two games in hand, a crack at the title is still very much on the cards if they win here

FA Women's Super League 2
London Bees v Watford @2pm - with many of the local men's pro clubs away from home or without a game, the hosts will be hoping for a decent turnout for this derby match being played at The Hive which is close to Canons Park Tube station. Tickets for the match are also only £4
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Sunday 28 January

FA Cup Fourth Round
Chelsea v Newcastle United @130pm - one of the best ties of the round is being held over until Sunday lunchtime. Tickets for the all-Premier League match-up are also on sale to non-members at a flat rate of £30 so fill your boots as there probably won't be many other opportunities this season

FA Women's Super League 1

Chelsea v Everton @1230pm - in an unfortunate bit of scheduling, the best of the day's women's action is taking place at Kingsmeadow where the Blues host the struggling Toffees knowing a win could put them top


GET INVOLVED
If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. If you're interested in reviewing a ground in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

TLFG: 15-21 January 2018

Greetings one and all and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

How has the week been for you?

After the bonanza of festive football we all enjoyed in recent weeks, things have calmed down a bit but there's still been plenty going on.

Personally my own football watching has been hampered by having a sick child whose vomiting bug will almost certainly emerge in my system in the near future so brace yourselves! 

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However, I know that's not been the case for many readers with regular contributor Chris H and many other hoppers making it out to watch Altis FC at their new ground next to West Ham's home at the London Stadium. Check out pictures from his and other readers' visits to games on our Facebook page.

Interestingly that particular game had been thought up and partly staged by football journalist and groundhop supremo Tony Incenzo to allow people the chance to see a game at that ground. Last week we had the chance to enjoy a one-off at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre so where else would you like to see a game played?

Several amateur teams have unusual grounds not least the Honorable Artillery Company who occasionally play at their grounds in Moorgate right in the centre of the City of London on what must be one of the most valuable football pitches in the country if not the world!

Send in your suggestions or get them over to Tony and see what can be arranged.


'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' pay a visit to Aveley's fine new stadium

If you're really keen to visit one of the capital's biggest clubs but can't get a ticket or have been put off by the cost then there are some good opportunities to do it on the cheap this week with both Chelsea and West Ham hosting FA Cup replays and Crystal Palace playing an FA Youth Cup match at Selhurst Park. All these games are on sale to non-members and tickets are much cheaper than normal.

Also this week, I've included an 'A bit further afield' section on Sunday because there's not a lot going on in London and a few tickets are still available for a Premier League game not all that far away - scroll down to find out where.

Once again we're very lucky to have another ground/club/match review from our good friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who headed out to the TLFG border town of Aveley to see their highly regarded new facilities.

Finally this week, many thanks to Dutch reader Benjamin D who very generously donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund  - it is very much appreciated and everyone knows Feyenoord are vastly superior to Ajax :-)


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include some matches in the Premier League and EFL and some FA Cup replays.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.
Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 15 January

Premier League 2
There are a several games at U23 level on Monday with the standout one being Arsenal v Manchester United. The game is being played at Boreham Wood's ground at 7pm. Entry always used to be free to games like this but getting the details has been hard so check the Arsenal website on the day for the latest. Earlier in the day at 12pm, Tottenham Hotspur host Everton at their training ground which should also be worth seeing but, as above, check all the details before you travel just in case something has changed

Bostik League North Division
Haringey Borough v AFC Hornchurch @745pm - the best of the day's non-league action should be found at Coles Park where Haringey play the latest of their games in hand. The last week has been a good one for the north London side who have enjoyed back-to-back wins over Aveley and Bury Town to keep themselves well in with the promotion-chasing pack. Next up is the visit of the division's top side. The Urchins have been top for a while now and although only three points clear, have three games in hand on their nearest rivals - a big game for both teams

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Tuesday 16 January

FA Cup Third Round Replay
West Ham United v Shrewsbury Town @745pm - if you've not been to see the Hammers at the London Stadium yet then now's your chance. Most tickets to watch them take on the League One title contenders are only £10 and they're in plentiful supply. Consequently the atmosphere is likely to be a bit lacking but it's a chance to tick off one of the big grounds at a fraction of the normal cost

FA Trophy Second Round Replay
Boreham Wood v Gateshead @745pm - after fighting out an entertaining 3-3 draw on Saturday, these two National League sides will have to do it all again on Tuesday. Sadly this is unlikely to draw a big crowd as the hosts have the lowest attendances in the division and the visitors have the best part of a 500 mile round trip to undertake

Middlesex Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Wealdstone v Hampton & Richmond Borough @745pm - these two have dominated this competition over the last 10 years with Hampton winning it four times, beating Wealdstone in three of those finals. The Beavers edged to a 1-0 win in last year's final and on paper should win again. However, given their current title bid, Hampton will almost certainly rotate their squad

Velocity Trophy Quarter-Final
Wingate & Finchley v Billericay Town @745pm - as we approach the business end of what is more commonly known as the Isthmian League Cup, Wingate welcome the current league leaders and reigning cup holders. The big spending Essex club will no doubt be prioritising their league games so might rest one or two players

Evo-Stik League East Division
Egham Town v Hayes & Yeading United @745pm - from a TLFG perspective it's been all about the Sarnies in this division over the last couple of years as they've challenged for promotion. A similar push looks unlikely this year but in the case of Hayes, it's still all to play for. After several seasons of struggle, the west London club are finally in their new ground and are playing some good stuff. Up in fourth, they could cut the gap on the top three to just three points with a win here
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Wednesday 17 January

FA Cup Third Round Replay
Chelsea v Norwich City @745pm - as with West Ham's game above, tickets to see the Blues take on the Canaries in this unwanted FA Cup replay are cheaper than normal and readily available. Although they're not as cheap, £30 to watch Chelsea take on a Championship side still represents pretty good value if you've never been to Stamford Bridge

Bostik League South Division
Cray Wanderers v Ashford United @745pm - the hosts' long unbeaten run continued on Saturday with their 1-0 win at Guernsey keeping them in second just a point behind leaders Lewes. A win over struggling Ashford looks likely and with the Rooks not playing, they should go top
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Friday 19 January

Friendly
Brentford B v Reading U23 @1pm - the closest you'll get to see some professional footballers in action on Friday will be this friendly for Brentford's second string at their training ground. As always, check all details with the Bees before you travel UPDATE:18/01/17 - this match has now been moved to Sunday 21 January at 1pm

FA Youth Cup Fourth Round
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United @7pm - if you want to see some of the stars of the future then get yourself along to Selhurst Park which is hosting this cup match for U18s. Tickets are £5 if bought in advance but jump to £10 if you buy on the day

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Barkingside @745pm - probably the most meaningful match of the day will take place at Oakside. These clubs used to groundshare but it was one-time owners Barkingside who ultimately ended up moving out after they sold the stadium lease to Redbridge (then Ford United) who, several years later, put the rent up and effectively forced them out meaning this derby has a bit extra to it. From a purely footballing perspective, Redbridge are currently top and looking to get back into the Bostik League

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Saturday 20 January

Premier League
Arsenal v Crystal Palace @3pm - the game of the week must surely be this derby at the Emirates. Although the Gunners are up in sixth, it's their manager Arsene Wenger who is under far more pressure following their cup upset at Nottingham Forest last week and their Premier League humbling at Bournemouth this weekend. Rumours abound that Carlo Ancelotti could be coming in to replace him if the Frenchman leaves in the summer but it could come a lot sooner if results continue to flounder. Contrast this to the mood at Palace where despite their relatively lowly position, things are well and truly on the up. The appointment of former England boss Roy Hodgson seems to have been an inspired one as they have climbed from rock bottom to the heady heights of 12th following a 1-0 win over Burnley on Saturday. Despite this, the Gunners should still start as favourites - especially when you consider the Eagles have only beaten them twice on their travels since 1934
West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - without membership it will be very hard or expensive to get tickets for the Arsenal game but there are still a few available to non-members for this one. Like Palace, the Hammers have turned things round since bringing in a new manager and although they're up in 11th they're still only five points above the relegation zone so things could still go south quickly, especially if they lose to the Cherries who are one of the teams below them

Championship
Fulham v Burton Albion @3pm - the Cottagers made the play-offs last season and are the top ranked London club in the division again following a five-game unbeaten run. On Saturday they picked up an impressive win at fellow promotion contenders Middlesbrough to move into eighth just one point adrift of the play-off places. With average crowds of under 5,000 Burton are the smallest club in the division by a long way and it's no surprise that they find themselves in the bottom three but they have spirit and can beat most clubs in the division on their day
Queens Park Rangers v Middlesbrough @3pm - after all the despondency following their loss to MK Dons in the FA Cup, Rangers responded well with a 3-1 at Burton on Saturday. With only one defeat in five league games, things seem to be stabilising. Boro, freshly relegated from the Premier League and with new boss Tony Pulis in charge pose a significant threat. There are often quite a few goals when these two play with the last two matches alone producing 10 goals

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Blackpool @3pm - the Dons could only manage a draw at arch rivals MK Dons on Saturday, a result which saw them slide down to 22nd. Despite this there is still cause for hope as it's tight down there with four teams all within a win's reach. Blackpool are just beyond this group so are definitely beatable
Charlton Athletic v Walsall @3pm - just when it looked like the Addicks could be slipping out of the promotion race they picked up two crucial wins over struggling Oldham and Bury to stay in the top six. The Saddlers should be tougher opponents than either of those two so we'll get a better idea of how significant Charlton's resurgence is

League Two
Barnet v Lincoln City @3pm - defeat at Crawley on Saturday saw the Bees remain bottom and their losing run extended to five games. It's looking pretty gloomy for all connected with the north London club right now and it's not likely to get any easier when the Imps pay a visit on Saturday. The newly promoted side, who enjoyed a famous run in the FA Cup last season, are up in sixth and beat them earlier in the season

National League
Boreham Wood v Dover Athletic @3pm - the NL fixture computer has thrown up a couple of very decent looking games in this division on Saturday. Firstly we have this match between sides occupying the last two play-off places. Despite being the smaller club, the Wood have become a bit of bogey team for their Kentish opponents having won four of the five games played against them since joining the fifth tier in 2015. Current form would also suggest they win this one too
Sutton United v Dagenham & Redbridge @1230pm - down at Gander Green Lane we've got this derby between teams in the top eight which will generate a far bigger crowd. Former leaders Sutton's form has become a bit patchy of late allowing current leaders Macclesfield to move six points clear of them in third. The Daggers were also among the pacesetters but only one win in five has seen them drop down to eighth and they could conceivably drop another two or three places with defeat here. Also, given the early kick-off you can easily combine this with the game at nearby Carshalton Athletic which kicks-off at 3pm

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Hungerford Town @3pm - back at Christmas something like one point separated the top six but since then things have become more stretched. It's great to see one of our local sides Dartford still leading the way and nice to see Hampton tucked in just behind them. The Beavers could go top themselves if they win against midtable Hungerford

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Merstham @3pm - the Hamlet currently top the Bostik League but you feel it's only a matter of time before Billericay catch them. Having lost at Margate on Saturday, Dulwich are only five points clear of their Essex rivals who now have six games in hand. Merstham are one of the division's strugglers and got thrashed here last season so simply must be beaten

Bostik League South Division
Cray Wanderers v Lewes @3pm - one of the matches of the day at non-league level sees the top two in this division do battle at Hayes Lane. Who is first and who is second at the start of the game depends on how Cray do in their midweek game against Ashford but it should hopefully be a humdinger whatever

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Hadley v Welwyn Garden City @3pm - for me the pick of the games in the ninth tier is this one at Brickfield Lane where midtable Hadley welcome the league leaders. WGC are currently two points clear at the top and have three games in hand. They also made it to the FA Vase third round and are in the SSML Premier Division Cup final so should be formidable opponents

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Enfield Borough v Brimsdown @3pm - up in north London it's derby time at the QEII Stadium. Although Brimsdown currently ground share at Haringey Borough, the Enfield area is their heartland so hopefully we'll get a game with a bit of passion

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Sunday 21 January

Friendly
Brentford B v Reading U23 @1pm - the closest you'll get to see some professional footballers in action on Sunday in London will be this friendly for Brentford's second string at their training ground. As always, check all details with the Bees before you travel

Kent Senior Trophy Quarter-Final

Erith Town v Whitstable Town @3pm - two SCEFL Premier Division clubs meet for a place in the semis in the only men's game on Sunday

FA Women's Premier League Southern
Queens Park Rangers v Crystal Palace @2pm - the best of the women's action is this third tier game being played at Uxbridge FC

A bit further afield - given it's a pretty quiet day in London, you might be interested to know that the last few tickets are currently available to non-members for Southampton's Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspur at 4pm. Trains from London Waterloo take less than 90 minutes to reach Southampton so it's a very doable day trip. UPDATE:(16/01/18) - a handful of tickets are still available but engineering work on the rail line to Southampton means journey times will be a lot longer than normal so factor this is in if you plan to go

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