Sunday, 19 February 2017

TLFG: 20-26 February 2017

As someone who likes to champion the non-league game and FA cup competitions, it's been quite a week both locally and nationally.

The top story was definitely National League Lincoln City's shock 1-0 FA Cup win over Premier League Burnley at Turfmoor on Saturday. Elsewhere, Millwall claimed their third Premier League scalp of the season as they grabbed a late winner against Leicester City to also make the quarter-finals.

Of the big boys, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur made comfortable progress while Manchester City were held at Huddersfield.

But perhaps the biggest story of all could take place tomorrow when Sutton United, another National League side, look to cause one of the biggest upsets in FA Cup history when they host Arsenal live on TV (BBC One, 755pm). 

The ticket deal of the week is to be found at Charlton
It was also FA Vase quarter-final weekend where London's last remaining club Southall finally bowed out at home to highly rated Cleethorpes Town. It was a fantastic achievement by the 10th-tier club to make it to the last eight and hopefully they'll push on for promotion in the Spartan South Midlands League.

With the Sutton game out of the way, this Saturday sees the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy. We're fortunate in London to have two sides left in the competition and both Boreham Wood and Dulwich Hamlet have landed tough but very attractive home ties. As a result, my focus on the non-league games you can watch this weekend is largely dominated by these so I strongly recommend you get to one of them if you can.

Aside from all this, there's loads more great football to watch with matches every day this week including good options on Thursday, Friday and Sunday which we don't often have so fill your boots.

Buy tickets for Non-League Finals Day and you could win some for the FA Cup Final
I'll be at QPR v Wigan on Tuesday and will probably be at Dulwich v Macclesfield on Saturday. Barkingside v Clapton on Friday is also very tempting but getting permission to see three matches in a week is surely impossible??? Watch this space...

Lastly, given the FA Vase and Trophy chat above, don't forget that tickets for Non-League Finals Day at Wembley on Sunday 21 May are now on sale. It's only £25 for adults and £1 for kids to see the two finals played back-to-back. Also, if you buy before the end of February the you could win tickets for this season's FA Cup Final so don't delay!


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Premier League, Europa League, EFL, FA Cup, FA Trophy and several minor league and county cup competitions.

However, 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 (white 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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




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 20 February

FA Cup fifth round
Sutton United v Arsenal @755pm - simply writing this fixture seems odd but a non-league team from south London are taking on one of the biggest clubs in the country in a last 16 tie of the FA Cup. The U's have had to win five ties to get this far, beating Forest Green Rovers, Dartford, Cheltenham Town, AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United. The Gunners represent a big step up in class but how seriously will they take it? Under pressure manager Arsene Wenger must realise this is his only realistic chance of silverware this season and shouldn't take any chances with his team selection but he often does - anything less than victory will be disastrous

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Fulham @7pm - tickets for the match at Sutton are long gone but you should have better luck getting one for this U23 game at the London Stadium. Tickets are £5 for adults but must be booked in advance - annoyingly I can't find any cut off time on the West Ham website so book online as soon as you can if you're interested in visiting the Hammers' new home

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Tuesday 21 February

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Wigan Athletic @745pm - QPR picked up their first win in six games with a stunning 4-1 win at Birmingham City on Saturday. That result will hopefully push a few more wavering fans towards Loftus Road on Tuesday where tickets for this game against the struggling Latics should be in plentiful supply. Re-sale tickets are going for below face value on Twickets if you fancy a club-approved bargain

League One
Millwall v Chesterfield @745pm - from a London perspective, the Lions are the team of the moment in this division. Their fantastic victory over Premier League champions Leicester in the FA Cup on Saturday extended their unbeaten run to 13 matches in all competitions. A win over struggling Chesterfield on Tuesday could lift them to fifth
Charlton Athletic v Oxford United @745pm - elsewhere in the division we have this midtable clash. Both have games in hand which may give them an outside chance of making the play-offs but they both need to start winning regularly

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Bromley @745pm - the cheap tickets on offer as part of the Daggers' anti-racism day proved a big draw as they got their biggest crowd of the season on Saturday. However, lowly Guiseley ruined the party by notching an unlikely 2-1 win. With Lincoln creating FA Cup history elsewhere, John Still's side missed the chance to go joint top. On Tuesday they have another chance when they take on midtable Bromley in this derby

Middlesex Senior Cup semi-finals
Hendon v Wealdstone @745pm - we're down to the last four in one of our local county cups and we've got a couple of derbies to look forward to. The Greens and Stones used to play much closer together and be in the same division so these games had quite a bit of spice to them. With Wealdstone now back up in the National League South and Hendon ailing at the wrong end of the Ryman Premier, there should only be one winner...
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Hanworth Villa @745pm - on paper, the mismatch in this game is even bigger with three divisions separating the sides. Hampton, if playing a full strength team, should win at a canter but boss Rufus Brevett (he of former QPR and Fulham fame) has done really well at Hanworth this season and they come into the game on a great run of form

London Senior Cup second round
Redbridge v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - it used to be traditional that most of the capital's pro clubs entered sides in local county cup competitions but sadly it has become a rarity. Thankfully the Dons are still doing it to lend a bit of extra interest to this competition. Although they can play their full first team, it's more likely to be a development side but you could see one or two senior squad members if you're lucky

Ryman League Division 1 South
Greenwich Borough v Hythe Town @745pm - the tense battle for play-off places continues on Tuesday with this match between the sides currently in fourth and sixth. At this level, only the top side goes up automatically and the clubs in second to fifth play-off

Southern League Division 1 Central
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Royston Town @745pm - the Tangerines are having a pretty mediocre campaign but are in no danger of relegation. The main reason to watch this one is to take a look at visitors Royston who are top and looking for promotion. The last game between them shortly before Christmas produced eight goals (5-3 to Royston) so hopefully we'll get more of the same

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Wednesday 22 February

Ryman League Division 1 South
Cray Wanderers v Tooting & Mitcham United @745pm - with eight league wins on the bounce, Tooting seem to be building a real head of steam as they look to return to the Ryman Premier. Sadly they can't shake off Dorking Wanderers who are second, just three points behind. On Wednesday they face a tricky trip to Bromley for this game against a side whose outside hopes of a play-off place could hinge on getting a decent result here

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Thursday 23 February

Europa League
Tottenham Hotspur v Gent @805pm - with a place in the last 16 up for grabs, Spurs need to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit in front of another big crowd at Wembley where this match will be played

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Friday 24 February

Premier League Cup
Fulham v Charlton Athletic @7pm - there's quite a decent selection of Friday night football this week. If you want to see some of the pros of the future then this U23 game at Fulham's training ground is the match for you. A TLFG reader went to a game here a while back and reported that the facilities for spectators were good with seats and refreshments available. It's usually £3 on the gate to get in so give it a go

Ryman League Division 1 North
Thurrock v Bowers & Pitsea @745pm - if you're looking for a game with a bit more riding on it then this Essex derby between sides fighting for a play-off place should tick a few boxes

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Clapton @745pm - alternatively if atmosphere is what you're after then, ironically, this ninth-tier game could well provide the most as the title-chasing Tons with their vocal ultras make the short journey to Seven Kings for this east London derby

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Saturday 25 February

Premier League
Chelsea v Swansea City @3pm - the Blues seem to be walking to the title as the teams below them continue to slip up. Comfortably through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup as well, Chelsea will start this match as strong favourites. Although in the lower reaches all season, the Swans have won four of their last six under new manager Paul Clement as they've impressively hoisted themselves up to 15th in the table. It's also worth noting that Swansea are unbeaten in three against the Stamford Bridge club so any complacency will need to be nipped in the bud by Antonio Conte
Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough @3pm - Sam Allardyce's side face another crucial relegation six-pointer on Saturday as fellow strugglers Boro pay a visit. With only one league win in 11, the Eagles are in terrible shape and really must win here to stop their already shattered morale completely collapsing. Although only three points above their hosts, Middlesbrough are only in this position because they have become the draw specialists of the division (10 from 25) and are therefore quite tough to beat
Watford v West Ham United @530pm - in the day's late game we have a derby between two midtable clubs. The Hornets managed to arrest a worrying run of defeats and should now have enough to avoid the drop for another season. The Hammers were also in a bad way but have fought back brilliantly to break into the top 10. This match is, therefore, little more than a battle for places and bragging rights

Championship
Brentford v Rotherham United @3pm - although in the lower reaches of the table, the Bees look to be safe for another season which is no mean feat for one of the smallest clubs in the division. On Saturday they welcome the bottom club who are 15 points adrift of safety and seemingly doomed

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Walsall @3pm - up among the play-off contenders earlier in the season, avoiding the relegation places is now the priority for the Dons as a five-game winless run has left them only five points above the relegation places. Walsall still have an outside chance of a play-off place so they should start as marginal favourites
Charlton Athletic v Bury @3pm - the bargain of the day is to be found at The Valley where the Addicks are charging a flat price of just £5 for all tickets. It's just as well as the hosts have little to play for, being eight points from both the play-off and relegation places. Bury, on the other hand, are fighting to avoid relegation

League Two
Barnet v Cambridge United @3pm - with four points from two games this week, the Bees have kept themselves firmly in contention for a coveted top-seven place. Cambridge are only just behind them in the table so there's plenty to play for as the season moves towards its final quarter
Leyton Orient v Cheltenham Town @3pm - after the joy of a hugely surprising win at Plymouth on Tuesday, the O's crashed back down to earth with a home defeat to fellow strugglers Notts County on Saturday. The result left them in the bottom two and three points adrift of safety. Next up they welcome the Robins who are one of two catchable teams just above them. They must win this one!

FA Trophy Quarter-Finals
Boreham Wood v Lincoln City @3pm - with Wembley looming for the final eight teams, the stakes are rising. The Wood have, on paper, the toughest opponents left in the competition with the National League leaders and vanquishers of Burnley heading to Meadow Park. The Imps have never lost to Boreham Wood and are looking great at the moment but will their FA Cup heroics prove to be a distraction???
Dulwich Hamlet v Macclesfield Town @3pm - over at Champion Hill, the lowest ranked team remaining in the competition welcome former third-tier side Macclesfield for another massive game. The Hamlet knocked out National League side Braintree in the last round so shouldn't find the challenge of the Silkmen insurmountable. This game could well draw a close to sell-out crowd so you are advised to buy in advance

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Sunday 26 February

EFL Cup Final
Manchester United v Southampton @430pm - the season's first bit of silverware is up for grabs at Wembley on Sunday. The Red Devils will be looking to win the cup for a fifth time and they'll start as strong favourites against an out-of-sorts Saints side who last made the final in 1979

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City @130pm - now 10 points off the pace in the Premier League, the title looks to have gone for third-placed Spurs but mathematically it's still very much on. A win against a tough Potters side won't be easy to get but is a necessity

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Cray Valley PM v Ashford United @3pm - the hosts welcome Ashford twice this week in the cup and league. Ashford are top at the time of writing while Cray are having a decent season back in sixth

FA Women's Super League 2
Millwall Lionesses v Sheffield Ladies @2pm - the women's game of the day takes place at Fisher's ground in Rotherhithe where Millwall play their first home match of the new season



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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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

Sunday, 12 February 2017

TLFG: 13-19 February 2017

Welcome one and all to the latest edition of TLFG.

This week I managed a rare foray to a live game over in south-east London.

Having earned a creditable draw at National League side Braintree Town in the FA Trophy on Saturday, Dulwich Hamlet welcomed the Essex club back to Champion Hill for the replay on Tuesday night.

Playing in the seventh tier, the hosts came into the game as the lowest-ranked team left in the competition so were the underdogs in most people's eyes.

Braintree seemed to have the better of the opening exchanges without really taking charge and it was Dulwich who took the lead with a penalty shortly before the half hour but it was all square at the break after a corner was poorly defended at the near post.

The ticket deal of the week is to be found at Dagenham & Redbridge
After the break, Dulwich took control but only after a moment of outrageous fortune restored their lead when keeper Sam Beasant (son of Dave) saw his clearance hit one of his own defenders and loop back over him into the net. 

Gavin Rose's players grew in confidence and opened up an unassailable 4-1 lead with 15 minutes to go. By this time Braintree were also down to 10 men and although they pulled one back, there was still time for sub Jacob Erskine to add another as Dulwich recorded a memorable 5-2 win.

Next up, in the quarter-finals, is a blockbuster home tie against former third-tier club Macclesfield Town. The Cheshire side are now back in the National League but are among its play-off contenders so will be incredibly tough to beat.

Thanks to reader Moran for this great panoramic of Brisbane Road
Both sides average sizeable crowds so Champion Hill's 3,000 capacity is likely to be reached for the game which takes place on Saturday 25 February. Tickets are on sale online and are being kept at the normal rate of £10 for adults which is impressive.

Elsewhere this week, it's Dagenham & Redbridge's annual 'Daggers Against Racism Day'. Guiseley are the visitors for a National League game and tickets start at just £2.50 for adults if bought in advance. 

Southall also have their hugely important FA Vase quarter-final against Cleethorpes Town on Saturday. They will start as considerable underdogs but the lure of a trip to nearby Wembley for the final could see them raise their game again.

We're lucky again this week to have a blog from 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who paid a visit to Barking who are currently top of the Essex Senior League. I've never been to Mayesbrook Park so will take particular interest in this.


Lastly this week, thanks to reader Moran from Israel who visited Leyton Orient as their terrible run continued with defeat against Morecambe. He had a good time nonetheless and sent some great photos of his experiences. Thanks again Moran.

I'm heading up to Edinburgh this week. Sadly there don't seem to be any games on while I'm there but I'll try and squeeze in a match down here before I go.

Enjoy your week and, as always, let me know what you've been up to.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 70 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the FA Cup, EFL, FA Vase and several minor league and county cup competitions.

However, 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 (white 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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




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 13 February

Premier League Cup
Fulham v AFC Wimbledon @7pm - there are three games in this U23 competition on Monday with this derby at the Cottagers' training ground the one I'd go for

National League South
Wealdstone v Whitehawk @745pm - with average crowds of 745, the Stones should draw a bigger crowd for the non-league game of the day
----------------------------------------------------

Tuesday 14 February

Championship
Fulham v Nottingham Forest @745pm - the match of the night takes place at Craven Cottage where the hosts will look to push again for a play-off place. They're six points off the pace at the moment and should beat Forest but they don't have a great record against them with five wins from their last 20 meetings

League One
Millwall v Port Vale @745pm - the Lions are on a great 11-game unbeaten run which has lifted them into top six and the fifth round of the FA Cup. The visitors are struggling so that run should get extended
AFC Wimbledon v Coventry City @745pm - these clubs made history and won a lot of fans with unlikely FA Cup victories in consecutive years in the late '80s. Sadly both sets of supporters have suffered greatly since then and find themselves in League One. In the case of the Dons, things have hopefully reached their lowest point and they're a club on the up but for the Sky Blues, the downward trajectory continues. Currently bottom and winless in the league since the 1 November, a place in League Two looks a certainty

Ryman League Cup Quarter-Final
AFC Hornchurch v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - the eighth-tier Urchins welcome Dulwich from the division above. Both sides have hopes of promotion this season but the Hamlet seem to be dropping away a bit with the focus and performances seemingly being saved for their cup games. The visitors should start as favourites but Hornchurch are in much better form

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Wednesday 8 February

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Colliers Wood United v Sutton Common Rovers @730pm - if you're looking for a game on Wednesday, get yourself down to the Wibbandune for a match between two sides from south London. Neither are pulling up trees this season but their league positions are possibly a bit false as they both have several games in hand on the teams around them

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Saturday 18 February

FA Cup Fifth Round
Millwall v Leicester City @3pm - we're down to the last 16 and the Lions have done superbly well to get there, seeing off top-flight sides Bournemouth and Watford in the previous two rounds. Next up they welcome the reigning Premier League champions who have made a shocking defence of their title and are fighting the drop. Given who they've already beaten, Millwall should fancy their chances again

League Two
Barnet v Portsmouth @3pm - the Bees welcome former Premier League side Pompey for one of their biggest games of the season. Both were pushing hard for a play-off place a few weeks ago but Barnet have gone five without a win to fall to 12th. The gap is still only five points so a win against a fellow challenger would be very useful
Leyton Orient v Notts County @3pm - there's a massive relegation six-pointer over at Brisbane Road where two of the division's bottom three meet for a crucial game in their fight to remain in the EFL

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Guiseley @3pm - the Daggers got relegated from League Two last season but are right up in second as they look to make an immediate return. On Saturday they welcome struggling Guiseley for their annual 'Daggers Against Racism Day' where tickets are reduced to just £2.50 (standing) and £9.99 (seats) for adults but you must buy in advance to get the deal. Don't hang about!

National League South
Dartford v Chelmsford City @3pm - the Darts have won six on the trot to surge into title contention in the NLS. A win here could even see them leapfrog Ebbsfleet and Maidenhead to go top. However, Chelmsford have play-off ambitions of their own so can't be taken lightly

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Needham Market @3pm - the big games are coming thick and fast for the Hamlet at the moment. Having beaten National League side Braintree in the FA Trophy and drawn with Ryman League leaders Bognor on Saturday, second-placed Needham are next up for what should be another challenging game for the club from SE22

FA Vase Quarter-Final
Southall v Cleethorpes Town @3pm - if you're in west London the non-league game of the day takes place at Hanwell Town's ground where tenants Southall have done superbly well to make it to the last eight of the Vase. Finalists back in the '80s, this is probably the club's biggest game since. Sadly, in Cleethorpes they've drawn one of the strongest teams left in the competition - the Lincolnshire club are currently top of the Northern Counties East League and have won a staggering 14 of their last 15 games in all competitions

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Fisher v Croydon @3pm - Bermondsey club Fisher moved back to a ground of their own at the start of the season and they're holding a Community Day there this Saturday when Croydon pay a visit. Among other things, funds are being raised for breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel

Combined Counties League Division 1
Banstead Athletic v Chessington & Hook United - two of the top three meet for a game which could have a big bearing on who wins the title

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Sunday 19 February

FA Cup Fifth Round
Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur @2pm - there's a mouthwatering London derby to look forward to at Craven Cottage on Sunday afternoon. Both sides will probably be more concerned with their league campaigns so might rest one or two players but hopefully not. Tickets are still available but you must have a previous booking history with Fulham to be able to get one

Women's FA Cup Fourth Round
Millwall Lionesses v Nottingham Forest @2pm - if you can't get a ticket for the above, you needn't go without as you'll be able to get in at Salter Road, home of Fisher, for this game in the women's version of the FA Cup


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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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

Sunday, 5 February 2017

TLFG: 6-12 February 2017

Welcome all to this week's TLFG.

I haven't got a huge amount to write about this week so I'll just put out there the strange fact that half of London's Premier League and EFL clubs aren't actually based in the area they hail from or are supposed to represent.

Arsenal started off in Woolwich in south-east London, Chelsea play in Fulham, West Ham are based in Stratford, QPR aren't in Queens Park, Wimbledon are based in Kingston, Millwall is on the Isle of Dogs (north of the river) while the club play in Bermondsey and Barnet's new ground is in Harrow. You could even argue that Crystal Palace is closer to Croydon or Thornton Heath but that would be churlish.

If bought in advance, tickets for Fulham v Wigan start at £20
There are also several non-league teams who are located several miles from their home towns. One of the most notable are Clapton who play in Forest Gate and have done since the 19th century. Wealdstone were the top club in Harrow for many years and had a central location in the town - now they play in Ruislip several miles west and don't look like returning. There are quite a few others too.

As I say, there's no great point to this, I just thought it might be interesting.

In the real world of football, Chelsea look almost home and dry when it comes to winning the Premier League after their 3-1 victory over Arsenal put them nine points clear of Spurs.

At the other end it's been a weird week for Palace who enjoyed a priceless win at Bournemouth on Tuesday only to get thrashed at home by bottom club Sunderland on Saturday - Sam Allardyce clearly still has a lot of work to do.

The non-league story of the week was Sutton United beating Leeds in the FA Cup and then drawing Arsenal at home in the fifth round. The match has been picked for live TV coverage which is good because you'll have no chance of getting a ticket if you're not a member or season-ticket holder of either team. 

Well I think that's about from me. Have a good week and enjoy your football.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Premier League, EFL, FA Trophy and several minor league and county cup competitions.

However, 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 (white 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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




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 6 February

Premier League 2
Fulham v Middlesbrough @2pm - once again there are several U23 games on Monday with this PL2 game at the Cottagers' training ground being the best on offer

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Sporting Club Thamesmead v Forest Hill Park @745pm - if you'd like to check out a non-league game instead, this match in SE28 is the only game that's on
----------------------------------------------------

Tuesday 7 February

League Two
Leyton Orient v Morecambe @745pm - the O's made it five defeats on the trot on Saturday as their season continues to disappoint. Still in the bottom two but only a point adrift of safety, a win against lower midtable Morecambe is possible

FA Trophy Third Round Replays
Boreham Wood v Sutton United @745pm - after fighting out a goalless draw on Saturday, these two National League sides will do battle again on Tuesday for a place in the last eight
Dulwich Hamlet v Braintree Town @745pm - the hosts, from the seventh tier, are lowest ranked side left in the competition but are well supported and could upset Braintree who have struggled in the National League this season

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Gosport Borough @745pm - the wins have started to dry up a bit of late for Hampton as they've fallen to eighth in the table. However, they're only two points behind the play-off places so a win against lowly Gosport could put them back in contention

Ryman League Premier Division
Hendon v Bognor Regis Town @745pm - the Greens' fight against relegation received a boost with a win over Grays on Saturday. However, their next fixture sees them welcome league leaders Bognor who have opened a four-point lead at the top

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Wednesday 8 February

Ryman League Premier Division
Grays Athletic v Harrow Borough @745pm - the hosts seem to have been bottom of the division all season but they've kept themselves in touch with the rest and will take a significant stride towards safety if they can beat fellow relegation fighters Harrow

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Saturday 11 February

Premier League
Arsenal v Hull City @1230pm - after breezing past Southampton in the FA Cup last weekend, the week just gone has been a bit of a disaster for the Gunners. With back-to-back league defeats against local rivals Watford and Chelsea, they've dropped to third and are now a whopping 12 points behind the Blues in the race for the title. Normally a home game against Hull would be a good antidote to such a run but the relegation threatened Tigers have had a great few days which have seen them take four points off Manchester United and Liverpool
West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - I foolishly predicted last week that an improved Hammers side would do better against Manchester City on Wednesday but they got stuffed again. However, it seems they are becoming a bogey side for the east Londoners who responded superbly with a 3-1 win at Southampton on Saturday. The Baggies are still going along nicely and sit just above Slaven Bilic's side in the table - I doubt it will be a goalfest

Championship
Fulham v Wigan Athletic @3pm - the Cottagers are making a habit of closing in on the play-off places and then blowing it to slip back down. This week has seen this form repeated with a midweek win at Burton followed up with a loss to Birmingham, leaving them six points off the pace. They are still the best London has to offer in this division and should beat the struggling Latics
Queens Park Rangers v Huddersfield Town @3pm - Ian Holloway's QPR side are also a model of inconsistency at the moment with a fantastic draw at Newcastle on Wednesday bookended by woeful defeats to Burton and Blackburn. On Saturday tough Yorkshire outfit Huddersfield come to W12 looking to force their way back into the top four

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Charlton Athletic @3pm - if you can get a ticket, this derby is likely to provide a better spectacle and atmosphere than either of the above. Neck and neck in midtable these two London rivals should produce a decent game but the ground is small and tickets are limited to season-ticket holders and members with most already gone
Millwall v Southend United @3pm - over in Bermondsey, this match is pretty close to being a derby as the Shrimpers hail from Essex just to east of London. These two are also pushing hard for a play-off place. The good news is that the Den is much bigger than Kingsmeadow so tickets are readily available

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Margate @3pm - with all our local fifth-tier teams on the road this week, this match is the pick of the non-league games. A midweek win could see Hampton start this match in the top five. A win against bottom club Margate could see them reach the giddy heights of the top four

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Merstham @3pm - the Towners have had a bit of wobble recently suffering consecutive defeats to Burgess Hill and Met Police but they turned it round in style in Saturday's derby at Wingate, winning 5-1. They're still firmly in touch with all the play-off contenders and beating lowly Merstham could finally get them into the top five

Ryman League Division 1 North
Aveley v Bowers & Pitsea @3pm - the hosts are having a decent season and sit eighth, well placed for a tilt at the play-offs. Bowers won the Essex Senior League last year and are having a fine debut season at this level, currently occupying fifth place
Haringey Borough v Cheshunt @3pm - on the north side of town there's another match between a couple of play-off contenders for you to consider

Essex Senior League
Barking v Takeley @3pm - the Blues have been leading the league for a while but lost at title challengers Clapton last week and dropped another two points at Hullbridge on Saturday as the Tons went top in their place. However, they still have four games in hand and are only a point behind. On Saturday fourth placed Takeley come to Mayesbrook Park for another crunch match

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Cockfosters v Wembley @3pm - in third, the hosts have had a great season but leaders London Colney have just been too good and seem uncatchable by the Chalk Lane club. On Saturday they take on Wembley who have also had a good campaign and are fifth at the time of writing

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Bridon Ropes v Rusthall @3pm - down in SE7, the Ropes host leaders Rusthall who are just a point ahead of Glebe and therefore need a win in this top-six clash

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Sunday 12 February

FA Women's Premier League South
Queens Park Rangers v Coventry United @2pm - QPR have had a season to forget and are currently battling to avoid the proverbial wooden spoon. Coventry, on the other hand, are only three points off the top at the time of writing so will provide tough opposition
West Ham United v Portsmouth @2pm - fellow strugglers West Ham face a midtable Pompey side who are winless in two


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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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

Monday, 30 January 2017

TLFG: 30 January - 5 February 2017

Greetings one and all. Sorry for the late publication of this week's piece - family illness (not serious), babysitting and other family commitments have taken up my time this weekend.

As a result, I didn't get to feast on any of the mouthwatering selection of games that were on offer on Saturday.

I know several people who did make it out and about and I'd like to hear from you if you made it to a game.

The main football news involving our local sides all came in the FA Cup with Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Millwall and Tottenham all making it through to the last 16. 

Tickets for Non-League Finals Day at Wembley are on sale now

However, the biggest story was generated by non-league Sutton United who ousted former winners Leeds United with a deserved 1-0 win on Sunday. Sensationally, they'll be joined in the fifth round by fellow non-leaguers Lincoln City. Both sides are also through to the last 16 in the FA Trophy - if anyone knows when a team last managed to achieve that double please let me know.

Elsewhere over in west London, Southall also made it through to the quarter-finals of the FA Vase. This is quite an achievement for a 10th tier club and they're far from favourites to win. However, they'll pretty much be the home team if they do make the final with their ground at Hanwell Town only 2.5 miles from Wembley.

If you'd like to be at the final in May, it forms part of Non-League Finals Day and tickets are on sale now.

I think that's it from me - enjoy your week.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are almost 100 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Premier League, EFL, FA Trophy and several minor league and county cup competitions.

However, 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 (white 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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




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 30 January

Premier League 2
Fulham v Swansea City @7pm - once again there are several U23 games on Monday with this PL2 game at the Cottagers' training ground being the best on offer

Ryman League Premier Division
Kingstonian v Wingate & Finchley @745pm - the pick of the night's non-league games is this match between two midtable teams who can still mount a play-off charge
----------------------------------------------------

Tuesday 31 January

Premier League
Arsenal v Watford @745pm - there's a full programme of midweek fixtures in the top flight this week with this derby the only game in the capital on Tuesday. The Gunners have won their last eight league games against the Hornets and are in much better form than their opponents so an away win looks highly unlikely

Championship
Brentford v Aston Villa @745pm - after some signs of encouragement, both sides have hit a bit of a rut of late and neither now look like play-off candidates. The ground should still be full though as Griffin Park is small and Villa are a big name with a significant following

Ryman League Premier Division
Metropolitan Police v Enfield Town @745pm - both sides need points at opposite ends of the table so there's plenty to play for

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Wednesday 1 February

Premier League

West Ham United v Manchester City @745pm - the Hammers have already lost twice to City this season in league and cup and shipped eight goals in the process. However, the east London side have improved since their last meeting just over three weeks ago and should put up more of a fight

League One
Millwall v Walsall @745pm - the Lions collected another Premier League scalp in beating Watford in the FA Cup on Sunday and extended their unbeaten run to eight games in the process. Walsall are just behind them in the table and won the reverse fixture in October

Essex Senior League
Wadham Lodge v Waltham Forest @745pm - it's derby time at Wadham Lodge on Wednesday as these two groundsharers do battle

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Saturday 4 February

Premier League
Chelsea v Arsenal @1230pm - undoubtedley the game of the week, this huge London derby gets the weekend's action underway with a bang. The Blues are currently top, eight points ahead of the second placed Gunners so an away win is almost a must if the title race is stay alive. The good news for Arsenal is that they know how to beat this team having triumphed 3-0 at the Emirates back in September
Crystal Palace v Sunderland @3pm - there's an almost equally important game at Selhurst Park where two of the bottom three meet for a crucial relegation six-pointer. New boss Sam Allardyce is really struggling to get the Eagles going - will this match against his last club prove to be the breakthrough moment?
Tottenham Hotspur v Middlesbrough @3pm - both teams need the points at either ends of the table and Boro will start as massive underdogs. Spurs are doing really well in third, won at the Riverside earlier in the season and have lost only one of their last 10 against the Teesside club
Watford v Burnley @3pm - the other top-flight game of the day is relatively low key with both sides safely in midtable. However, Watford are in terrible form and badly need to arrest a run which has seen them go seven without a win in the league and saw them lose at League One Millwall in the FA Cup on Sunday

League One
Charlton Athletic v Fleetwood Town @3pm - the Addicks kept their play-off hopes alive with a fine 2-1 win at high flying Bolton on Saturday. The result still left them six points off the top six so they'll really need to win this match against a side who are part of that leading pack

League Two
Barnet v Mansfield Town @3pm - there's an intriguing clash at The Hive between two sides just outside the play-off places. A win for either could see them end the day in the all important top seven
Leyton Orient v Carlisle United @3pm - the O's are in serious trouble with their fourth consecutive loss dropping them into the relegation zone on Saturday. On paper, it would appear they'll struggle to get anything out of this one too as the Cumbrians are third and on course for automatic promotion

FA Trophy Third Round - the competition, for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers, is down to its last 16 teams so it's getting serious. The winners of each tie win £7,000 prize money and move a step closer to a Wembley final in May
Sutton United v Boreham Wood @3pm - after their FA Cup heroics against Leeds on Sunday, the U's now find themselves in the last 16 of two major competitions. On Saturday they face another London club who are currently six points above them in the National League but a home crowd and their current momentum should see them start as favourites
Welling United v Lincoln City @3pm - there can't have been many times, if ever, when a club has made it to the last 16 of the FA Cup and FA Trophy but this year two teams have done it. Joining Sutton in achieving this feat are Lincoln who beat Brighton on Saturday. Welling had a terrible start to the season but are on a great run at the moment but facing the National League leaders will be incredibly tough
Wealdstone v Brackley Town @3pm - the Stones made it to the semi-finals in 2012 and won it way back in 1985 so they've got a proud history in this competition. In Brackley they face a midtable team from the parallel National League North so they're very beatable

Ryman League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Enfield Town @3pm - there's a derby at Summers Lane where two north London clubs who sit just outside the play-off places will be looking to join the leading pack
Harrow Borough v Bognor Regis Town @3pm - the Boro welcome league leaders Bognor for a game that's of significance to both sides at either end of the table

Ryman League Division 1 North
Thurrock v Tilbury @3pm - the hosts are in third but are nine points off top spot so a title shot seems unlikely. On Saturday they welcome local rivals Tilbury for this Essex derby

Ryman League Division 1 South
Greenwich Borough v Dorking Wanderers @3pm - after losing at title rivals Tooting on Saturday, Greenwich face another tough game against one of their main challengers for top spot

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Southall v Harpenden Town @3pm - the hosts made it through to the FA Vase quarter-finals on Sunday and are firmly in contention for promotion in the league too. Harpenden are currently second so should provide a stern test

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Sunday 5 February

Championship
Brentford v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - the Bees have a big week and it ends with this game against the current leaders. Brighton is close to London so this is pretty much a derby and the ground will be packed

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Erith & Belvdere v Ashford United @3pm - E&B are struggling a bit this season and it won't get any easier when the side at the top of the table pay them a visit

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Eltham Palace v Rusthall @3pm - there's a similar scenario in the division below where Rusthall will look to extend their lead at 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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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

Sunday, 22 January 2017

TLFG: 23-29 January 2017

Greetings one and all and welcome to TLFG.

It's been another good week for London's top clubs with Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham now filling the top three spots in the Premier League. 

West Ham continued their recovery with a comfortable win at Middlesbrough, while things for Watford and Crystal Palace still look decidedly dodgy.

QPR and Fulham fought out, what was by all accounts, a very entertaining 1-1 draw in the west London derby but things were a bit more underwhelming elsewhere in the EFL as none of our other local clubs produced a win between them.


'Two Men In Search...' pay a visit to SE7 in this week's blog

Arguably the story of the week came way down in the 10th tier where Spartan South Midlands League club Hillingdon Borough announced on Tuesday morning they were to fold only to say they were back in business by lunchtime. How? Well former player Yannick Bolasie, now at Everton, heard of their plight and helped provide the funds they needed to continue. A great gesture from the DR Congo international. 

It would be great to see other Premier League players adopting or sponsoring non-league clubs. For many, a week's wages could cover the annual costs of most sides.

Personally it's been a quiet week on the football front but it's been great to see you've all been getting out and about - particular thanks go to Simon Sallek who's posted pictures and details of the games he's been to over the last few days on our Facebook page. If you'd like to share what you've been up to, please do.

Lastly this week, we've got another piece from 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game'. Hot on the heels of their last article about Tooting & Mitcham United, their latest one is about the intriguingly named Bridon Ropes who play near Charlton in the Southern Counties East League.



THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the FA Cup, EFL, FA Trophy and several minor league and county cup competitions.

However, 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 (white 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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




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 23 January

Premier League Cup
West Ham United v Leicester City @7pm - the Hammers' U23 side take on their counterparts from Leicester at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Ilford @745pm - the non-league alternative is this East End derby at the Mile End Stadium
----------------------------------------------------

Tuesday 24 January

FA Trophy Second Round Replay
Sutton United v Worthing @745pm - a truly massive week of cup football for the U's gets underway with this tie against Worthing who play two levels below them. It will be interesting to see if Sutton rest players ahead of their much publicised FA Cup tie against Leeds United on Sunday when the FA Trophy is the one they have a much more realistic chance of winning. If they win this, there's a derby at home to Boreham Wood to look forward to in the next round

Kent Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Welling United v Bromley @745pm - over on the south-east side of town we have a derby in the county cup. These two played in the FA Trophy last week with underdogs Welling pulling off a surprise victory. Sadly, this competition probably isn't regarded as a massive priority by either so full strength teams are unlikely

Ryman League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Leiston @745pm - the hosts welcome Suffolk club Leiston who are currently fourth but will go top of the table if they can win their games in hand

Essex Senior League
Wadham Lodge v Barking @745pm - after an impressive 2015/16, Wadham Lodge have struggled a bit this year and it's not going to get any easier on Tuesday when leaders Barking pay them a visit

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Hillingdon Borough v Kensington Borough @745pm - the hosts hit the headlines last week when they were saved from financial disaster by Everton player Yannick Bolasie who used to play for them when he started out. This will be their first game since and it comes against a team who are well placed to push for promotion

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Wednesday 25 January

Ryman League Division 1 South

Cray Wanderers v Corinthian Casuals @745pm - the game of the day takes place at Bromley's ground where two clubs with hopes of making the play-offs do battle. TLFG fact - Cray claim to be the oldest club in London having been formed in 1860

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Friday 27 January

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Aston Villa @7pm - I love a bit of Friday night football to get the weekend started and we're lucky to have two games to choose from on the east side of town. The first is this U23 game at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Enfield 1893 @745pm - a bit closer to the centre of town we've got this midtable clash. Oakside is right next to Barkingside station on the Central Line making it one of the easiest grounds to get to in London

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Saturday 28 January

FA Cup Fourth Round
Chelsea v Brentford @3pm - with the competition down to its last 32 teams, the draw has thrown up a few eye-catching ties with this west London derby most definitely one of them. Despite being located less than five miles apart, the clubs have only met twice since 1950 and that was for a fourth round tie which went to a replay four years ago. Currently rampant in the Premier League, the Blues will start as overwhelming favourites against their Championship opponents
Crystal Palace v Manchester City @3pm - one of the other ties of the round pits last season's beaten finalists against five-time winners City. Both are having a tough time in the league by their respective standards so the cup should bring some welcome relief. City should win but in this competition anything's possible
Tottenham Hotspur v Wycombe Wanderers @3pm - there's a potentially even bigger mismatch at White Hart Lane where one of the Premier League's top clubs welcome the Chairboys from League Two. However, the Buckinghamshire club are no fools as evidenced by their current 15 game unbeaten run which has got them this far in the cup and up to fifth in the league

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Burton Albion @3pm - having both been knocked out of the FA Cup already, these two agreed to bring this match forward Valentine's Day. QPR have improved significantly over the last few weeks, stringing together a four-match unbeaten run to move up into midtable. Burton, a former non-league club and one of the smallest in the division, have done superbly well to make it to the second tier but have found the last six weeks tough going and are down in the bottom three

National League
Bromley v Southport @3pm - averaging crowds of 1219, the biggest turnout for a non-league match in London will almost certainly be at Hayes Lane for this one. The hosts are coasting along nicely in midtable at the moment while the Sandgrounders are looking for points to avoid the drop

National League South
Wealdstone v Dartford @3pm - the most notable match in the sixth tier takes place in Ruislip. Although the Stones have made great progress in the FA Trophy, they have lost significant ground on the play-off places in recent weeks and a tilt at promotion now looks unlikely. The Darts, on the other hand, have won eight of their last 10 to be right up there in third. A healthy crowd of 800-1,000 can probably be expected

Ryman League Premier Division
Hendon v Wingate & Finchley @3pm - after eight years without a ground of their own, Hendon finally have a home. Sadly it's not in the Borough of Barnet but it's just across the border in Brent at Silver Jubilee Park. This will be the first derby there against near neighbours Wingate

Ryman League Division 1 South
Tooting & Mitcham United v Greenwich Borough @3pm - if eighth-tier football is your thing then this is undoubtedly the match of the week as the leaders welcome big spending, third-placed Greenwich to Imperial Fields for a massive game

Essex Senior League
Clapton v Barking @3pm - there's a very similar match-up a level below but this time it's third hosting first. The Tons are the highest they've been in the league for years and briefly went top a couple of weeks ago before Barking made good use of their games in hand to reclaim the lead. The visitors are now four points clear and still have several games in hand on those below them so this a must win game for the hosts if they are to have any chance of winning the title. Sadly, at the time of writing, the Clapton Ultras are still boycotting games so the crowd for what is also a local derby is likely to much lower than it would otherwise be. UPDATE (27/01/17): the boycott is off, for now at least, so the Ultras will be back and the club have made it 'Pay What You Want' with a minimum donation of £1

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Sunday 29 January

FA Cup Fourth Round
Fulham v Hull City @1230pm - in the space of eight days, the Cottagers will play derbies against QPR and Reading and finish off with this cup tie against Premier League strugglers Hull - so quite a busy time. The hosts should fancy their chances despite only winning once against the Tigers in seven attempts since 2009
Millwall v Watford @12pm - there's a derby at The Den where League One play-off contenders Millwall will look to cause another upset after knocking out Bournemouth in the last round. Despite starting the season well, the Hornets are now seven without a win in the Premier League and could be vulnerable if they're not on top of their game
Sutton United v Leeds United @2pm - the most romantic tie of the round pits non-league Sutton against former league and FA Cup winners Leeds. The Whites' fortunes have fluctuated wildly over the last 25 years going from a league title and a place in the Champions League semi-finals to midtable mediocrity in League One. Now back amongst the promotion contenders in the Championship, they should have too much for the U's

FA Vase Fifth Round
Southall v Exmouth Town @3pm - over in west London there's a prestigious match in another FA competition. Southall are the only club from the capital to make it to the last 16 and have a very winnable tie against opponents from Devon who play in the parallel South West Peninsula League. The hosts made the final in 1986 and are now getting within touching distance of another trip to Wembley


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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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

Sunday, 15 January 2017

TLFG: 16-22 January 2017

It's been another busy week of football in London and our local clubs by and large have had a pretty good few days.

Chelsea comfortably beat reigning champions Leicester City to stay seven points clear at the top of the Premier League while big wins for Tottenham and Arsenal kept them in the top four.

West Ham eased past Crystal Palace to move nine points clear of the relegation zone, while the Eagles were left dangling precariously just above it. 

Elsewhere, Watford ground out a drab 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough to collect what could be a crucial point come the end of the season. They also remembered legendary manager Graham Taylor who passed away this week at the age of 72.

In the Championship, Brentford pushed Newcastle close but were unable to stop them returning to the top of the table as the Toon enjoyed a 2-1 win. Elsewhere there were tidy victories for Fulham and QPR who meet each other this Saturday in the derby.

Five goals for £3 can't be bad
The game of the week in League One was the derby between Charlton and Millwall but as so often happens in these big matches there were no goals and everyone went home a little disappointed. AFC Wimbledon picked up a useful win over Oxford to keep their outside hopes of a play-off place alive while in League Two, Barnet and Leyton Orient both had a weekend to forget with defeats to Doncaster and Portsmouth respectively.

Boreham Wood, Dulwich Hamlet, Wealdstone and Welling United all made it through to the last 16 of the FA Trophy while Sutton United earned themselves a replay. 

My week saw me take in an FA Youth Cup game for the first time in many years. It's very similar to the senior event but simply features clubs' U18 sides.

Probably the biggest story from this year's competition is the news that Hertfordshire non-league club FC Broxbourne Borough (whose senior side are currently bottom of the ninth tier Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division) have made it to the last 16 against sides from some of the biggest clubs in the country. They've drawn Aston Villa away in the next round.

Anyway, the tie I saw was the London derby between QPR and Tottenham at Loftus Road. Rangers' youth teams haven't been doing that well this season so I didn't expect much but for £3 and the match a few minutes walk away I thought what the hell.

After a game opening few minutes, the hosts were soon under the cosh and went 2-0 down to their classy opponents. Many more chances presented themselves to the visitors but they were squandered before, virtually out of nowhere, QPR pulled one back with a few seconds of the first half remaining to make things interesting.

With the hopes of the nearly 700 crowd raised, the players returned for the second half but within another few seconds the visitors were 3-1 up and the R's looked doomed. A fourth was added before the end and Tottenham cruised through to a fifth-round meeting with Norwich City.

All in all the FA Youth Cup provides a great way to watch up and coming talent at some of the biggest stadiums in the capital at a fraction of the cost (tickets are never more than £5) so I'd recommend it. 

Lastly this week, I'm pleased to say we've got another ground review piece from our old friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game'. This time they've visited Ryman League club Tooting & Mitcham United. The south Londoners are on a great run at the moment and moved to the top of the Division 1 South on Saturday. You can have a read of their work here and/or watch the accompanying video below:





THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Premier League, EFL, FA Cup and several minor league and county cup competitions.

However, 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 (white 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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




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 16 January

Professional Development League
Millwall v Queens Park Rangers @2pm - the U23 game of the day is this London derby which is being played at Bromley's ground in south-east London

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Sporting Bengal United @745pm - the best thing about this game between two clubs from the east side of London is the special reduced admission price of £5. The 'Side are always trying things to get new people in so give them a go if Ilford/Seven Kings is easy for you to get to

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Tuesday 17 January

FA Cup Third Round Replays
Crystal Palace v Bolton Wanderers @8pm - for some strange reason tickets for this match are not going on general sale, you must be a member or season-ticket holder. If it's selling like hot cakes then fair enough but I'd be stunned if it is. Anyway, Palace are having a torrid time in the Premier League while Bolton are pushing for promotion from League One. Presumably Sam Allardyce's priority will be top-flight survival so he will probably rest a few players against the club where he initially made his name as a manager
AFC Wimbledon v Sutton United @745pm - the night's other replay, on the other hand, is sold out as two south London rivals from the third and fifth tiers go toe-to-toe again. The first game ended in a 0-0 draw but with home advantage lost, Sutton should go out. The prize of a prestigious and lucrative home tie against Leeds United awaits the winners

National League South
Dartford v Weston-Super-Mare @745pm - with no league game on Saturday, the Darts dropped out of the play-off places but they can get straight back into them with a win against one of the division's strugglers

Middlesex Senior Cup Quarter-Finals
Harrow Borough v Wealdstone @745pm - three of the four quarter-finals are being played on Tuesday and all three are derbies. The Harrow derby is arguably the biggest although it has lost a bit of its edge over recent years, especially since the Stones moved up to the National League South. Boro will start as underdogs but how strong a side the visitors field is open to question
Enfield Town v Hendon @745pm - there's an all Ryman League Premier Division clash at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium where two clubs from the north of town do battle
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Hanworth Villa @745pm - the final derby of the night takes place at the Robert Parker Stadium and features clubs from the Heathrow area

London Senior Cup Second Round
Wingate & Finchley v Cockfosters @745pm - there's another north London derby at Summers Lane. Ninth-tier Cockfosters are on a 10-game unbeaten run so it will be interesting to see how they fare against their seventh-tier hosts

Southern League Division 1 Central
Northwood v Uxbridge @745pm - locked together in midtable on 32 points neither are having a great season but it's still a derby

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Wednesday 18 January

Premier League International Cup

Benfica v PSV Eindhoven @7pm - the U23 teams of these two European giants meet at Fulham's Motspur Park training ground for this attractive looking game. Admission prices are unclear at the moment but it won't be more than £5 and could even be free

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Beckenham Town v Crowborough Athletic @745pm - the hosts are having a very disappointing season. The main reason for going to this is to run the rule over Crowborough who currently top the league and are through to the last 16 of the FA Vase making them one of the best ninth-tier sides in the country

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Saturday 21 January

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Everton @3pm - the Eagles are desperate for points right now but in Everton they face a side in good form who thrashed Man City 4-0 on Sunday. In recent years these games have been tight with five of the last 10 games ending in draws

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Fulham @1230pm - one of the games of the weekend is this west London derby at Loftus Road. QPR have gone on a three game winning run while the Cottagers have only lost two in 10 so both are in a bit of form. Fulham have dominated this fixture during the 21st century with seven wins from the 10 games taking place since 2000 but they lost the last one in October. The good news is that tickets are on general sale so you can be there

League One
Charlton Athletic v Scunthorpe United @3pm - after drawing with local rivals Millwall on Saturday, the Addicks have another big game against the title challenging Iron

League Two
Barnet v Newport County @3pm - the Bees lost ground on the play-off places following defeat to leaders Doncaster on Saturday but in bottom club Newport they have a great opportunity to bounce back
Leyton Orient v Morecambe @3pm - the O's could find themselves in the relegation zone if they slip up here and with seven defeats from 10 it's quite possible

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Bromley @3pm - the game of the day in this division is this derby. The Daggers are London's top ranked non-league club and a win here against midtable Bromley could put them joint top

National League South
Welling United v Dartford @3pm - after enjoying a fine derby win over Bromley in the FA Trophy on Saturday, the Wings next face even bigger rivals Dartford. Games between these two have drawn decent crowds in recent years and with the sides scrapping for points at either end of the table there's plenty to play for

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Grays Athletic @3pm - there are no real stand-out games in this division so I've gone for this as the hosts are offering reduced admission of £5

Ryman League Division 1 South
Greenwich Borough v Hythe Town @3pm - the pick of the games in the eighth tier pits third against fourth at the DGS Marine Stadium

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Colliers Wood United v Raynes Park Vale @3pm - in a week full of derbies we have another one in south-west London. Often referred to in this blog as the 'A3 Derby' because of the major road linking the two clubs, neither side are having a great year

Combined Counties League Division One
Chessington & Hook United v Worcester Park @3pm - the hosts have become a bit of a yo-yo club in recent years and are in promotion contention again. On Saturday they also have a derby against the former divisional champions

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Sunday 22 January

Premier League
Arsenal v Burnley @215pm - the Gunners are doing well at the moment and thrashed bottom club Swansea 4-0 on Saturday. Despite this, they are still only fourth and a whopping eight points behind leaders Chelsea. Consequently they can afford few slip ups if they want to make up the ground. On paper the Clarets should be there for the taking but they've surprised many following promotion and are sitting pretty comfortably in 10th some 10 points clear of the relegation zone
Chelsea v Hull City @430pm - with that game out of the way, the focus moves to west London where the highly impressive league leaders will hope to extend their lead over the chasing pack to 10 points. In struggling Hull they face seemingly perfect opponents but under new boss Marco Silva they picked up their first win for a long time against Bournemouth on Saturday so there could be a bit more fight about them

Kent Senior Trophy Quarter-Final
Cray Valley PM v Lordswood @3pm - the day's non-league alternative can be found in the south-east of town. CVPM are a friendly club and always love to get new visitors so go and say hello

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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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