Monday, 18 February 2019

TLFG: 18-24 February 2019

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

I was on early shifts all week, starting at 0400 one day so being up writing at after midnight is starting to take its toll with my body-clock not fully adjusted yet.

Despite this, for the second week running I managed to get to a live game and another QPR one at that.

Having been to the two previous FA Cup home games against Leeds United and Portsmouth, I also managed to get a ticket for the visit of Watford.

For the first time in a while, Loftus Road was sold out for the visit of the team currently ranked eighth in the Premier League.

QPR push for an equaliser during their FA Cup Fifth Round tie against Watford
The Hornets as a similar size club who play around 15 miles north of Shepherd's Bush have always been one of QPR's main rivals.

It's not a particularly bitter relationship but it's a competitive one.

I have to look at their current status with begrudging respect - there's no way a club of their size should be holding their own quite so easily but they are and fair play to them.

The match itself was not a classic and it was settled by Watford's only shot on target just before half time when Tom Cleverley's woefully mis-hit shot fell perfectly for Etienne Capoue who fired home instinctively.

There was a lot of huff and puff from QPR throughout the second half but a fine display from veteran goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes and some inaccurate finishing from Rangers made sure it stayed 1-0.

It was disappointing that Watford decided to time waste from the moment they went ahead but overall they did a professional job and never looked rattled despite some fairly concerted pressure from the hosts.

If I were a betting man I would put a few quid on Watford to win the cup this year. I said this before the fifth round draw and although unconvincing on Friday, I've still got a good feeling about them.

In other news, it was good to see one of our local non-league clubs going viral on social media again this week.

Raynes Park Vale were hosting Horley Town in the Combined Counties League when they were awarded a penalty - watch the clip below to find out what happened next!


Lastly this week, many thanks to Kelvin and Jonny S who donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund this week. I really really appreciate it.

To recap, I recently received the news that my Dad has lung cancer. This condition also claimed the lives of my Mum and grandfather so with me powerless to do anything medically to help him, I've decided to ask for all donations to this blog to go to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which you can contribute to through the fundraising page I've set up. 

Anyway, enough about me - enjoy your football and keep in touch.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include action in the Europa League, Premier League, EFL and loads of action in our local non-league competitions. There are also some eye-catching U23 matches too.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or the venue or kick-off time has changed - this is highly possible for some of the lower non-league clubs. 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 18 February

FA Cup Fifth Round
Chelsea v Manchester United @730pm - the week begins with the final tie of the latest round of FA Cup matches and it is without doubt the biggest. These clubs are currently ranked third and second on the all-time winners list so have great pedigree in this competition. The Blues are the current holders and will be hoping to make the final for a third year in a row. On form a much improved United should win. Remember from this round onwards there are no replays so we'll get a winner one way or the other

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Liverpool @7pm - with tickets long sold out for the match above, your next best option is this U23 game at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground. Precise details are proving hard to get hold of so check with the Hammers on the day but adult tickets shouldn't be more than £5

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Walthamstow @745pm - although the 'Side have done well to haul themselves off the bottom of the table, it's been three weeks since they last won a game and could badly do with another three points in their pursuit of Southend Manor who lie six points above them. The visitors are fifth and the top London club in this league. They narrowly lost to leaders Stansted on Saturday and should have too much for their hosts on Monday

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Tuesday 19 February

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v West Bromwich Albion @745pm - having played three times last week, QPR's hectic February schedule (eight games in the month) continues with a tough match against the promotion-chasing Baggies. After a purple patch earlier in the season, things have gone a bit sour for Steve McClaren's team who have lost five in a row in the league to go bottom of the division's form table. West Brom are in the top six in the real table and on form so will be incredibly tough to beat but this is the Championship and anything is possible - tickets are available

Friendly
Brentford B v Huddersfield Town @11am - you could spend the whole day watching football in west London with this late morning match against a Terriers' development side at the Bees' training ground getting things underway. Entry to these games are usually free but there are few facilities and no cover. Check whether the public will be admitted before you set off

National League
Sutton United v Barnet @745pm - there are a couple of very decent looking games in the fifth tier on Tuesday with this south v north London derby the better in my view. Sutton were left clinging on to the final play-off spot after suffering a disappointing last-minute defeat to Barrow on Saturday. Barnet meanwhile picked up a fine point at league leaders Solihull Moors but slid worryingly close to the relegation zone in the process. Hopefully it is a false position as their lengthy runs in the FA Cup and FA Trophy have seen them play between four and six league games less than the clubs around them and they should to start pulling away if they win a couple
Boreham Wood v Wrexham @745pm - in the other game it's a real David and Goliath clash as one of the smallest clubs in the division host one of the biggest. In terms of attendance (avg. 763) the Wood are tiny compared to their guests with the Welsh club playing third-tier football not all that long ago. The Dragons are currently second and will go top if they win

Middlesex Senior Cup Semi-Final
Hayes & Yeading United v Harrow Borough @745pm - these two old rivals haven't met that much in recent years as Hayes have moved up and down the divisions. H&YU are currently top of the eighth tier Bostik League South Central, a level below Boro, but have scored more and have a better home record than anyone else in the top eight tiers of English football. The last time I checked, Harrow's games had produced more goals (for and against) than any other team in the top eight tiers so this could be quite a game! Even though Steve Baker's side are the higher ranked club, they are on a poor run and recently saw star striker Dylan Kearney join Sutton United so I'd have them as the underdogs. There is also the prize of a final against either Barnet or Brentford who play each other next week

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Harefield United v Hillingdon Borough @745pm - the Hare won 3-1 at Wodson Park on Saturday to stay eight points clear at the top and remain unbeaten in the league this season. On Tuesday they entertain local rivals Hillingdon Borough who narrowly avoided going bust last season after former Crystal Palace player Yannick Bolasie, who began his career at the Middlesex Stadium, helped bail them out 
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Wednesday 20 February

FA Women's Super League
Arsenal v Yeovil Town @730pm - although there are a few men's non-league fixtures, the biggest two matches of the day will almost certainly be in the top flight of the women's game. First up you should get to see the Gunners return to the top when they host a pretty hapless Yeovil side who are currently bottom and in dreadful form, conceding exactly three goals a game. The match is being played at Boreham Wood
Chelsea v Bristol City @730pm - there should be a far more competitive game at Kingsmeadow where it's a case of third versus fifth. If they are to catch Manchester City and Arsenal, the Blues will have to up their goal tally considerably - they've scored less than half than the Gunners have and are well behind City too but they should be in buoyant mood after beating their north London rivals 3-0 in the FA Cup on Sunday

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Hadley v Wembley @745pm - in the ninth tier, Hadley have the chance to return to the top if they beat fellow London club Wembley. The Lions have had a pretty forgettable season but could do with a few more points to make sure of avoiding the drop

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Thursday 21 February

Europa League
Arsenal v BATE Borisov @555pm - the Gunners come into this second leg 1-0 down after losing in Belarus last week. The east European side have dominated their domestic league for years and are gradually improving on the continental stage too, doing well to finish second in Group L behind Chelsea. Unai Emery's side should still have way too much for the visitors and they should be going all out to win as it's the only silverware they've got left to play for. There are a few tickets available for this game via the club's ticket exchange but although it says they're on general sale, you usually have to be a member to use that service. See what you can figure out...
Chelsea v Malmo FF @8pm - the Blues won last week's first leg 2-1 so they should have a more straightforward night. The Swedish club don't begin their domestic league campaign until April so they're still probably not as sharp as they could be. It would be nice to think that the staggered kick-offs would allow you to do a European doubleheader on Thursday night but sadly the distance between the two grounds is too far unless you want to miss part of at least one of them. Tickets for this also appear to be sold out with the cheap prices during the half-term school holidays no doubt proving a big draw for many

FA Women's Championship
Crystal Palace v Lewes @8pm - the only alternative if you want live football is this women's second-tier game between two of the division's strugglers. Lewes have made headlines recently for becoming the first club to pay their women players the same wages as their men

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Friday 22 February

Premier League
West Ham United v Fulham @745pm - get your weekend underway with a derby at the London Stadium. Although winless in four league games, the Hammers are now in the top half and should be fairly confident of avoiding relegation. Historically 38 points are said to be enough to keep you up and they're on 33 with 12 games to go. The same can't be said of the Cottagers who are second from bottom on 17 points so in theory need to win seven of their remaining games to hit that mark. West Ham are very hard to predict, taking points off the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool in recent weeks whilst also managing to lose at League One strugglers AFC Wimbledon. If Fulham are really up for this then they could get something. Tickets are available

Premier League Cup
Fulham v Reading @2pm - if you're really keen, you could enjoy a Fulham doubleheader with their U23's playing this match at the club's training ground a short walk from Motspur Park station. Adult tickets are £3 and are available on the gate

A bit further afield
If neither of the above take your fancy then you'll need to make a trip out to Essex to see a live game. Heybridge Swifts made the Bostik League Division 1 North play-offs last season and are well on course to qualify again - they host local rivals Witham in a game they should win. If you don't have a car then that game will be tricky to get to so I'd recommend heading to Harlow instead for the Essex Senior League game between Woodford Town and Hoddesdon Town. If you really want to put some miles on the clock then there were a few tickets left for the Premier League game between Cardiff City and Watford but without a car it will almost certainly require an overnight stay

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Saturday 23 February

Championship
Brentford v Hull City @3pm  - there are no top-flight teams in action in the capital on Saturday so it's all about the second tier where the Bees have recently become London's top club. QPR had been ahead of them and Millwall for most of the season but their recent terrible form has seen Brentford become top dogs - saying that, all three are in the bottom nine so it's not a great achievement. Sadly for Brentford they got stuffed by Swansea in the FA Cup on Sunday so they could be a little deflated heading into this one. Hull were awful at the beginning of the season but started turning things around in early December and are now in the top half
Millwall v Preston North End @3pm - the Lions beat AFC Wimbledon on Saturday to make it through to the FA Cup quarter-finals where they will be the lowest ranked team left in the competition. Aside from their hugely positive results in the cup, Neil Harris's side are really struggling for wins in the league and are just two points above the relegation zone. Like Hull, Preston made a poor start to their campaign but they're up in the top half too and are more than capable of grinding out a narrow win here

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Charlton Athletic @3pm - arguably the game of the day will come at Kingsmeadow where a capacity crowd will watch a game of importance at each end of the table. The Dons picked up a crucial 1-0 win at Walsall in midweek but remained rooted to the bottom. Charlton drew 0-0 with Blackpool at the weekend to stay fifth but their winless run is now up to four games and other clubs are closing in

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Sutton United @3pm - there's only one game on in the fifth tier but it's another derby. The Daggers have improved a lot since being taken over by a new consortium earlier in the season but Peter Taylor's team are still only five points above the relegation zone despite being up in 14th. If they beat Barnet in midweek, Sutton could be in the top four by the time this kicks-off

National League South
Dartford v Woking @3pm - there's also only one game in the sixth tier but it's a big one as two members of the top seven meet at Princes Park. After leaders Torquay lost at Welling United on Saturday, second placed Woking were able to close the gap between them to just one point with a win over Weston-super-Mare. Therefore victory here could put them top. Dartford drew at Slough to keep hold of the last play-off spot and I'm sure they'd settle for a point here

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Harrow Borough v Poole Town @3pm - there's quite a bit on in the seventh tier on Saturday but nothing is hugely exciting, certainly from the perspective of league position. This match between the teams in sixth and fifth is probably the most meaningful. Harrow were members of the top five until recently but have just been usurped by Poole. The sides produced a thrilling 3-3 draw in Dorset a month ago so hopefully we'll get some more of the same

Bostik League South Central Division
Hayes & Yeading United v Ware @3pm  - one of the most shocking results of the last week in London if not the whole country was Hayes & Yeading's draw at bottom club Egham Town on Saturday. Given they are the highest scoring team in the country and are seemingly cantering to the title, a cricket score was expected especially by me. At home they are a very different prospect but Ware are a top-six club themselves and would love to be the first team to win at Beaconsfield Road this season

Essex Senior League
West Essex v Stansted @3pm - firmly lodged in midtable, the season is pretty much over for the hosts but they can have a big impact on who ultimately wins the title by how well they perform in this match. Stansted are currently top by four points but nearest challengers Hullbridge have two games in hand which means any dropped points here could be very costly indeed

Anagram Records Trophy
Clapton CFC v Chipperfield Corinthians @2pm - normally I don't cover teams in the 12th tier but it's getting harder and harder to ignore Clapton CFC. Despite being well down the pyramid they draw enormous crowds for the level - a whopping 618 turned out for the visit of league leaders Stonewall on Saturday which the Tons won 5-1. The club were formed primarily by members of the Clapton Ultras last year after they'd had enough of the people running Clapton FC. Although playing three levels below the club they used to follow, the crowds have held up impressively and it's still a fun place to spend a Saturday afternoon with lots of singing and pyro. They play on a pitch at Wadham Lodge next to Walthamstow's ground so they're pretty easy to find

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Sunday 24 February

Carabao Cup Final
Chelsea v Manchester City @430pm - the main event of the week takes place at Wembley on Sunday where the season's first piece of major silverware is up for grabs. Both sides have won this competition five times but it is City who have dominated the event in recent years, winning three of the last five finals. They will start this as strong favourites again, especially when you consider they beat Chelsea 6-0 in last weekend's league match. Chelsea's website gives the impression that tickets are still available but only if you're a member whilst City have sold out

Premier League
Arsenal v Southampton @205pm - there's also an important game at the Emirates where both sides will be desperate for a win. The Gunners could move into the top four if they beat the Saints. However, if the the Hampshire club win then they will almost certainly climb out of the relegation zone so there's a fair bit at stake

A bit further afield
You'll struggle to get a ticket for either of the above so why not make the short journey north to Bedfordshire to watch the big League One clash between leaders Luton Town and Coventry City. The Hatters are in sensational form at the moment and are currently six points clear at the top. Coventry, founding members of the Premier League, are one of the biggest clubs at this level and still have play-off ambitions so a big crowd is expected - there are still a few tickets available for this midday kick-off and I'd advise buying in advance if you do want to go. There are also a couple of non-league games with the most notable being the FA Vase quarter-final between Canterbury City and Biggleswade FC. Sadly Canterbury don't have their own ground and play all their home games at Faversham Town a few miles to the north west


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, 10 February 2019

TLFG: 11-17 February 2019

Welcome to this week's TLFG, thanks for dropping by.

It's been another action packed week on the London football scene.

Once again, not a huge amount has changed in regards to league position for our local clubs but the most significant result must have been Chelsea's 6-0 humbling at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday.

It put the reigning champions back on top of the Premier League and saw Chelsea end the weekend in sixth below Arsenal who won at Huddersfield.

Tottenham carried on doing their thing, beating Leicester 3-1 to comfortably retain third and remain as London's top club.

Josh Scowen takes a tumble during QPR's FA Cup win over Portsmouth
In the Championship the match of the day on Saturday came at Loftus Road where visitors Birmingham City raced into a 4-0 lead. With the match into injury time and the score back at 4-3, QPR won a penalty only for on-loan striker Nakhi Wells to see his shot saved by former QPR goalkeeper Lee Camp to deny them a memorable point.

It's as you were in League One with Charlton staying in the top five with a draw and AFC Wimbledon staying bottom after another defeat - the gap to safety is now a hefty 10 points.

In non-league terms, I think my favourite result of the weekend was Chertsey Town's 2-0 win at Irlam in the FA Vase. Out of all the hundreds of teams which entered, the Curfews have made it to the last eight alongside Cray Valley PM.

Dave Anderson's side will now travel to West Auckland Town (near Middlesbrough) in the quarter-finals while CVPM will head to Devon to take on Willand Rovers.

On a personal note, on Monday I got to rub shoulders with a few notables at the 10th anniversary celebration of the QPR Community Trust at the House of Commons.

After getting through security, a journalist friend and I had a bit of spare time before the function began so we took the opportunity to pop into the public gallery and see a debate in progress.

Given all the Brexit shenanigans going on at the moment, it was quite a shock to see MPs discussing some different topics. Although I enjoyed watching John Bercow in full flow, the group of European teenagers on a school trip sat next to me must have been bored out of their minds!

As are you at this point!

Anyway, once the QPR function got underway is was nice to see a few faces from the club's current hierarchy, manager Steve McClaren and legends including Les Ferdinand, Andy Sinton, Andy Impey, Gareth Ainsworth, Don Shanks, Ian Gillard and Mark Lazarus and there could well have been more.

There were some great speeches by some of the above and also by some of those who have benefited from the Trust's activities. There were also some survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy which the club played an important role in responding too.

There was also a plug for the upcoming Tiger Feet 10 - a sponsored walk which I helped to set up back in 2010 to raise funds for the QPR Tiger Cubs Down's syndrome football team - the main reason I got an invite.


The following night I headed back to Loftus Road for only the second time this season to watch QPR's FA Cup Fourth Round replay against Portsmouth.

I greatly feared a cupset but it didn't even come close to happening with the visitors only managing one shot on target as we ran out fairly comfortable 2-0 winners.

This means we will now play Watford in the next round on Friday night which I will be taking my daughter to as she begins half term. Remaining tickets, for what is also a derby, go on sale on Monday morning at 10am.

Lastly this week, many thanks to Sami and the other anonymous readers who donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund this week. I really really appreciate it.

To recap, I recently received the news that my Dad has lung cancer. This condition also claimed the lives of my Mum and grandfather so with me powerless to do anything medically to help him, I've decided to ask for all donations to this blog to go to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which you can contribute to through the fundraising page I've set up. 

Anyway, enough about me - enjoy your football and keep in touch.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include action in the Champions League, FA Cup and EFL and loads of action in our local non-league competitions. There are also some eye-catching U23 and U18 matches too.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or the venue or kick-off time has changed - this is highly possible for some of the lower non-league clubs. 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 11 February

Professional Development League
There is a real dearth of action in the capital on Monday with a solitary U23 game at lunchtime between Crystal Palace and QPR at the Eagles' training ground - sadly this usually means the public won't be admitted but double check with the club in the morning whether you'll be allowed in. Failing that, contact Leeds United's black ops department for tips on how to get access

A bit further afield
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United @8pm - if your craving for football knows no bounds then there are quite literally a handful of tickets remaining for this game in the Midlands. I wouldn't normally include a game this far from London but there is nothing else on and there is one train back to London after the game at 2245

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Tuesday 12 February

Championship
Millwall v Sheffield Wednesday @745pm - for all their exploits in the FA Cup, the Lions are still struggling to pull away from the bottom three. Now four games without a win, only four points separate them from the relegation zone. Wednesday are an inconsistent midtable club and one that could come unstuck on a chilly night in Bermondsey

FA Trophy Third Round Replay
Barnet v Carshalton Athletic @745pm - after finally bowing out of the FA Cup in last week's replay at Brentford, the Bees will be looking to keep their hopes of a trip to Wembley alive by overcoming a side from two divisions below them. The original tie ended in a 3-3 draw after a late capitulation by Darren Currie's side. Carshalton come into this on the back of a fine 3-1 win over Bostik League title contenders Haringey Borough but beating Barnet would be quite an upset

London Senior Cup Semi-Final
Dulwich Hamlet v Brentford B @745pm - the Bees' second string have been making smooth progress in the county cups this season and have beaten stronger sides than Dulwich. However, they arrive at Champion Hill on the back of a run of four games without a win. Admittedly they were all friendlies and included fixtures against the likes of Slavia Prague and Borussia Dortmund but you get the point. The Hamlet have had a disappointing debut season in the National League South but picked up a priceless derby win over Welling on Saturday and should be supported by a sizeable crowd

Velocity Trophy Semi-Finals
Also known as the Bostik League Cup, we're down to the last four in this significant non-league competition. The bigger game is the all Premier Division tie between Enfield Town and Bishop's Stortford who field two of the league's top goalscorers between them. In Stortford's case it's former Bristol Rovers, QPR and Reading striker Jamie Cureton who is still banging them in at the grand old age of 43! There is also a game between AFC Hornchurch and South Central Division promotion chasers Bracknell Town.

Surrey Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Colliers Wood United v Tooting & Mitcham United @745pm - with Colliers Wood and Tooting right next to each other geographically, I'd love to say that this is a big derby but with CWU playing over 5kms away from their home town for almost 30 years it's not as big a rivalry as it could be. Nonetheless it should be feisty enough. It's also worth watching the hosts as, being formed in 1874, they are one of the oldest clubs in the country. Tooting play a level above and should start as favourites
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Wednesday 13 February

Champions League
Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund @8pm - the Champions League returns this week with the knockout stages getting underway after the competition's winter hiatus. Spurs have landed a very tough tie with current German league leaders Dortmund heading to Wembley for this first leg. Borussia head to London after a thrilling but disappointing 3-3 draw with midtable Hoffenheim which allowed Bayern Munich to cut their lead at the top to five points. Spurs, on the other hand, recorded a solid 3-1 win over Leicester on Sunday to further strengthen their grip on third place in the Premier League. The north London club on 'home' turf should be capable of at least a draw. Tickets are available but only to those on Tottenham's database

Championship
Brentford v Aston Villa @745pm - the Bees' decent unbeaten run came to an end at Nottingham Forest on Saturday and they'll find the visit of Villa challenging too. In terms of attendance, the Birmingham club are the biggest in the division and shouldn't really be in the second tier but they are and could well be sticking around for another year. With only one win in five, Dean Smith's side are now six points adrift of the play-off places. Eleven points clear of the relegation zone, the main priority for Brentford will be getting one over Smith who left them earlier in the season for Villa. Like the match above, tickets are on restricted sale as the away allocation has sold out

Bostik League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Tonbridge Angels @745pm - with tickets hard to come by for both of the above your next best option is this seventh-tier game in north London. After moving up to this level in 2011, Wingate have impressively punched above their weight and even made it to the play-offs two seasons ago. Not so this season as managerial issues have taken their toll and they've found themselves in the bottom three. With two games in hand and a three-point deficit to make up on Harlow, they can turn things around but it will be tough against Tonbridge who are among a large pack of clubs chasing a play-off place

SCEFL Challenge Cup Quarter-Final
Cray Valley PM v Corinthian @745pm - after getting postponed last week, two of the top three in this league will try and do battle again for a place in the semis of this cup competition

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Friday 15 February

FA Cup Fifth Round
Queens Park Rangers v Watford @745pm - with no senior men's football anywhere in England on Thursday, next up is the opening game of the next round of the FA Cup. QPR have made it to this point by beating Leeds United and Portsmouth so playing the Hornets, ranked eighth in the Premier League, is going to be quite a step up in class. The Shepherd's Bush club are also on a run of four straight league defeats after a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Birmingham City on Saturday (QPR were 4-0 down and saw a injury-time penalty saved). Watford ground out a 1-0 win over Everton in their last match and are the definite favourites to win but it's a derby, it's on TV and QPR are in the fifth round for the first time in 22 years so who knows? Tickets are set to go on general sale at 10am on Monday - I've got mine

Professional Development League
Watford v Charlton Athletic @3pm - if you've got the day off, you could enjoy a double helping of Hornets action with this U23 match at Wingate & Finchley

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Ilford @745pm - the best non-league option of the night would appear to be this East End derby in Mile End at one of the most centrally located grounds in the capital

A bit further afield
There are three Premier League 2 games all taking place just outside London. The biggest is Tottenham v Arsenal at Stevenage but it's members only for security reasons. Chelsea are playing Swansea at Aldershot Town while Reading entertain Newcastle United at Wycombe Wanderers - both of these will be open to the public but check all details before you travel

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Saturday 16 February

FA Cup Fifth Round
AFC Wimbledon v Millwall @3pm - with all our local Premier League sides either playing away or not playing at all, this derby between two EFL clubs takes top billing on Saturday. After the sensational win over West Ham in the last round, the Dons have returned to their sorry form in League One and are now 10 points adrift of safety at the bottom of the division. As mentioned above, Millwall aren't having a great season in the Championship either so this could be a close one. Given the derby nature of the game and Wimbledon's tiny stadium capacity, tickets will be very hard to come by without membership

A bit further afield
Brighton & Hove Albion v Derby County @3pm - if you simply must see a Premier League team in action then a short trip south to Sussex should be able to see you grab a ticket for this FA Cup tie against Championship promotion hopefuls Derby. At the time of writing, tickets seem to be in plentiful supply so don't miss out

League One
Charlton Athletic v Blackpool @3pm - although not as glamorous as a last 16 FA Cup tie, this third tier match has plenty going for it with the Addicks looking for a win which could put them in the top four. The Tangerines are also in the top eight and won the reverse fixture a couple of months ago. Despite the high league position of both sides, both sets of fans are in dispute with their respective owners so the turnout could be somewhat lower than you might expect

National League
Leyton Orient v Maidenhead United @3pm  - there are some decent games in the fifth tier on Saturday with this one likely to draw the biggest crowd. In what has become a tight title race, the O's draw at Hartlepool United on Saturday was enough to keep them top but only just. At the other end, Maidenhead are fighting to beat the drop and recorded an invaluable win over Boreham Wood to move out of the relegation zone
Bromley v Maidstone United @3pm - the other match at this level which I really fancy is this Kent derby at Hayes Lane. Bromley haven't quite recaptured their form of last season but are more than holding their own in midtable. The same can't be said of Maidstone who look set for a return to the National League South despite being one of the division's big six in terms of attendance. Consequently there should be at least 2,000 for this one

National League South
Welling United v Torquay United @3pm - the best option in the sixth tier must be this match as play-off hopefuls Welling welcome the current leaders. Managed by former Bristol City, Yeovil Town and Latvia boss Gary Johnson, the Gulls have climbed to the top after a lacklustre start to the season. It looks like being a tough afternoon for the Wings...
Wealdstone v St Albans City @3pm - at Grosvenor Vale there's a clash of the two teams just below Welling who are fighting to take their place in the play-off positions

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Metropolitan Police v Salisbury @3pm - after nicking a late goal to earn a 4-4 draw with fellow title contenders Weymouth on Saturday, the Met next have to host another of the leading pack. Managed by former Birmingham, Leicester and Portsmouth striker Steve Claridge, the Wiltshire club are gradually climbing back up the pyramid after reforming in 2015 following financial problems. These two sides are level on points at the time of writing in what has become an exciting title race

Bostik League South Central
Egham Town v Hayes & Yeading United @3pm - it could well be a day many are dreading at the Runnymede Stadium as bottom club Egham host the ridiculously high scoring runaway league leaders

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Chertsey Town v Sutton Common Rovers @3pm - the top two in the CCL meet for a game of gargantuan proportions in the ninth tier. While Chertsey were making smooth progress into the quarter-finals of the FA Vase on Saturday, Sutton Common were beating CB Hounslow to retake top spot. The south London club now have a two-point lead over Chertsey but they have three games in hand

Combined Counties League Division 1
Bedfont & Feltham v Tooting Bec @3pm  - unlike the game above, there aren't any really eye-catching games in the 10th tier this week but this one at The Orchard should be decent enough. The hosts are currently joint top with Frimley Green and will be looking to pull away from them with a win here. The visitors are a top six club themselves and could push into the top five if things go their way. Once again, it's worth pointing out that this is being played at one of the quirkiest grounds in the country as it's located at the end of Heathrow Airport's runway

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Sunday 17 February

Women's FA Cup Fifth Round
Chelsea v Arsenal @2pm - like the men's competition, we're down to the last 16 and there are three ties in the London area on Sunday. This is undoubtedly the match of the round and is a repeat of last year's final which the Blues won 3-1. On Sunday Chelsea travelled to Super League leaders Manchester City and drew 2-2 (unlike their male counterparts) to stay third just behind Arsenal. The Gunners beat Manchester United in their League Cup semi-final in midweek and should start as marginal favourites

A bit further afield
If women's football is not your thing then you could head down to the West Country and watch the FA Cup tie between Bristol City and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Tickets seem to be in good supply and there are regular trains and coaches to and from Bristol before and after the game which kicks off at 1pm. City play a level below Premier League Wolves but are in red hot form and should more than fancy their chances



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, 4 February 2019

TLFG: 4-10 February 2019

Welcome to the latest edition of TLFG and apologies for the late publication - apart from a few early kick-offs in U23 games, I don't think you're going to miss out on too much.

The last week hasn't been as action packed as we would all have hoped because snow blighted large parts of the fixture list, particularly at non-league level.

Nonetheless, there were some cracking games not least the 3-3 draw between Barnet and Brentford in the FA Cup which got the week off to a great start on Monday.

There have also been two rounds of Premier League games since I last wrote with a number of spectacular wins and losses for our local clubs but ultimately not very much changed. Spurs are still our top local club and Fulham are really struggling - everyone else just seems to be muddling through.

The categories in this year's FBAs have been announced

Brentford were the star performers in the Championship with a superb 5-2 win over play-off chasing Blackburn - a result made all the more impressive by the fact they were 2-0 down after seven minutes. Thomas Frank's side are now unbeaten in seven and pushing for a place in the top half.

Our local League One sides both lost but while Charlton stay firmly in the play-off places, AFC Wimbledon are still bottom and now nine points adrift of safety.

In the FA Trophy, Bostik League club Carshalton Athletic came from two goals down to draw 3-3 with Barnet who play two levels above them whilst Leyton Orient squeaked past Blyth Spartans to book their place in the quarter-finals.

Chertsey Town saw their FA Vase game at Irlam snowed off but in the all-London tie, Cray Valley PM beat Abbey Rangers 3-1 to make the last eight.

The quarter-final draw for both competitions is on Monday lunchtime.

I've got a few days off now so will get to go to only my second QPR match of the season as they entertain Portsmouth in an FA Cup replay on Tuesday night. Although from the division below, Pompey will be incredibly tough to beat and will be roared on by their fans who have completely sold out their allocation of tickets. The winners will have an attractive home tie against Premier League Watford in the next round - they're actually my outside tip to win it this season.

Tickets are now available for The London Football Awards

Many thanks to Michael C and Andy LW who donated to TLFG's coffee drinking fund this week. I really appreciate it and thanks again to all those who have contributed in the past.

On the subject of the coffee drinking fund, things are going to be changing from now on after I received the news on Thursday that my Dad has lung cancer. This condition also claimed the lives of my Mum and grandfather so with me powerless to do anything medically to help him, I've decided to ask for all donations to this blog to now go to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which you can contribute to through the fundraising page I've set up. 

Sorry to end my bit on such a low note but the good news is, the doctors haven't written him off yet and there is a chance.

Anyway, enough about me - enjoy your football and keep in touch.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include action in the Premier League and EFL, a couple of FA Cup replays and loads of action in our local non-league competitions. There are also some eye-catching U23 and U18 matches too.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or the venue or kick-off time has changed - this is highly possible for some of the lower non-league clubs. 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 4 February

Premier League
West Ham United v Liverpool @8pm - both sides were going along pretty smoothly until recently. Although Liverpool are still top, they've only won three of their last five league games and are out of the FA Cup. The Hammers have seen their form dip even more sharply, winning only one of their last five league games and they too are out of the cup after losing at League One strugglers AFC Wimbledon. The Reds will of course start as strong favourites, a status that's further backed up by the fact that they've beaten West Ham on the last four occasions and scored four goals each time. If you want to go, there are a few tickets available via the club's ticket exchange

Premier League 2
If you don't fancy the high prices at the London Stadium, then there are a couple of U23 games taking place elsewhere on Monday night with Arsenal hosting West Ham at Boreham Wood and Fulham playing Aston Villa at their training ground. Gunners games at Boreham Wood are usually free admission but the pitch was unplayable on Saturday so make sure it is still going ahead. Entry to Fulham's training ground is £3

Professional Development League
There are three U23 matches in this league on Monday lunchtime. Crystal Palace, Millwall and QPR are all playing fixtures at their training grounds. However, this usually means you'll only be able to get in to the game at QPR but, as always, check all the details before you travel

Bostik League Premier Division
Haringey Borough v Brightlingsea Regent @745pm - after coming up from the North Division last season, Haringey have been the surprise package of this campaign. Top for several weeks after going on a lengthy winning run, they've slipped back to second after winning only two in five. They are still serving up the entertainment though, producing a 4-4 draw with Burgess Hill on Saturday. On Monday they welcome Essex club Brightlingsea who have made rapid progress up the divisions since being formed in 2005 and are more than holding their own at this level

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Romford @745pm - the Millers moved to within three points of leaders Bowers & Pitsea with a win at Canvey Island on Saturday which means victory against local rivals Romford could put them joint top. The visitors are currently bottom so should be beaten

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Tuesday 5 February

FA Cup Fourth Round Replays
Brentford v Barnet @745pm - the initial game produced one of the matches of the round with the thrilling 3-3 draw wowing TV audiences around the country. Whether the second 'Battle of the Bees' will be quite as entertaining remains to be seen but precedent suggests the Championship side should prevail at the second time of asking. Sadly this game is not going on general sale and is only available to people with a previous ticket purchasing history
Queens Park Rangers v Portsmouth @745pm - elsewhere in west London, there's another finely balanced match between a midtable Championship side and one pushing for the title in League One. The first game produced a hard fought 1-1 draw and QPR, who aren't in the best of form, look vulnerable to a cupset. As with the match above, you must have a previous ticket purchasing history to be able to get a ticket for this one

National League South
Welling United v Chippenham Town @745pm - originally scheduled for last Saturday, this game was re-arranged while I was writing this blog on Sunday and missed the news that it was being played on Tuesday instead. Both clubs are pushing for a play-off place so it should be well worth a watch

Bostik League South East Division
Cray Wanderers v Whyteleafe @745pm - there's quite a lot of decent games on in the eighth tier on Tuesday but this top-five clash is probably the pick of them. Cray are the oldest club in London and appear to be romping to the title this year. Currently 13 points clear at the top after beating Herne Bay 6-0 on Saturday, it will take some doing to throw their lead away UPDATE: This match is being played at Whyteleafe - it's correct on the map but for some reason I switched it round, apologies 

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Chertsey Town v Badshot Lea @745pm - the Curfews were all set to make the long trip up to Manchester on Saturday to play Irlam in their big FA Vase match but snow saw it postponed. Back in London, their main title rivals Sutton Common Rovers did manage to play but suffered a surprise 4-1 home defeat to Spelthorne Sports. The result means Chertsey are left only two points behind but with three games in hand so a win here against midtable opposition will put them back on top

Combined Counties League Division 1 Cup
Bedfont & Feltham v Epsom & Ewell @745pm - two of the top four in the division meet in the cup for what should be an entertaining game at the end of Heathrow Airport's runway

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Wednesday 6 February

FA Continental Tyres Cup Semi-Final
Chelsea v Manchester City @730pm - the biggest match of the night is this women's match at Kingsmeadow where last season's league and FA Cup doublewinners Chelsea host the current league leaders City for a place in this year's league cup final. Tickets are £3

Southern Counties East League Challenge Cup Quarter-Final
Cray Valley PM v Corinthian @745pm - hosts CVPM recorded a fine 3-1 win over Abbey Rangers on Saturday to make it through the quarter-finals of the FA Vase. The south-east London club are also doing pretty well in the league and will make the semi-finals of the league cup too if they win here. However, Corinthian are second and will be tough to beat

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Thursday 7 February

FA Continental Tyres Cup Semi-Final
Arsenal v Manchester United @730pm - the Gunners women's team are currently second in the Super League but with a game in hand which will put them top if they win it. Although only a second-tier side, United are the highest scoring team in the top two divisions and will almost certainly get promoted to the top flight next season. Having beaten Super League side West Ham in the previous round, it will be very interesting to see how they get on here. Tickets for this match at Boreham Wood are £6

A bit further afield
If you've never been to Peterborough United then you've got the chance to tick their ABAX Stadium off your list on Thursday lunchtime. Although some way north of London, trains from Kings Cross are frequent and fast (less than an hour) and the ground is walkable from the station - you could also pay a visit to the 12th century cathedral too. Oh yes, they're playing Charlton Athletic in an U23 match

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Friday 8 February

A bit further afield
There's nothing on at all in London on Friday so if you want your football fix then you're going to have to clock up some miles. The biggest game of the day is the Championship match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United in Birmingham. There are still a few tickets available and it is possible to get trains back to London after the match with the last one leaving New Street at 2310.

Closer to home we have the Evo-Stik League match between Winchester City and AFC Totton. Both clubs are sitting just outside the play-off places so there's a fair bit at stake. Winchester is a very historic city and is well worth a visit in its own right so if you're free, think about making a day of it. There are also plenty of trains back to London after the game too.

Finally, if you enjoyed your visit to Peterborough on Thursday, you could remain in the area and check out Thurlow Nunn League leaders Godmanchester Rovers who continue their title push against Thetford Town. If going by public transport, you'll probably need a taxi to get you back to Huntingdon station after the game but once there, you'll be able to get a train back into London without much problem
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Saturday 9 February

Premier League
Fulham v Manchester United @1230pm - a full programme of top-flight action gets underway at lunchtime with this important match at Craven Cottage. Fulham enjoyed a fine midweek win over Brighton but then suffered a disappointing defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday to fall seven points adrift of safety. Much has been made of United's resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer so they couldn't be facing them at a much worse time. The Cottagers are also winless in 11 against the Old Trafford club and have suffered some pretty heavy defeats since their last win in 2009. This match has sold out
Crystal Palace v West Ham United @3pm - the win over Fulham moved the Eagles up to 14th, four points clear of the relegation zone. With only two defeats in five league games and still in the FA Cup, things are looking promising for Roy Hodgson's men and I'd have to start them as favourites in this derby. Tickets are not available to non-members
Watford v Everton @3pm - with only one point from their two games over the last week, you'd probably be a little disappointed as a Watford fan. However, that draw at Brighton on Saturday kept them in the top eight which is a fine achievement for a club of their size. On Saturday they welcome a Toffees side managed by former Hornets boss Marco Silva who are just one point behind them in the table. The sides produced a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture in December and a draw looks likely here too. This match is the only local Premier League game with tickets available to non-members but there aren't many left so act fast if you want one

A bit further afield
If none of the above work for you and you're prepared to travel outside London then there are a few tickets left for Southampton v Cardiff City and Brighton v Burnley in the Premier League

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Birmingham City @3pm - QPR's defeat at Wigan on Saturday made them about as midtable as it is possible to be - 14th place, eight points off the play-offs and 14 points clear of the relegation zone. Although the Championship is a pretty crazy division, it's highly unlikely they'll be going anywhere this season. This weekend they welcome Birmingham who are in a much better position when it comes to finishing in the top six and so should be marginal favourites. However, QPR are unbeaten in six against the Blues and haven't lost at home against them since 2006

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Burton Albion @3pm - still bottom of the division after a narrow defeat at Sunderland, the Dons take on another club who have done way better in cup football this season. Wally Downes' side enjoyed a fantastic 4-2 win over West Ham last week to make the fifth round of the FA Cup while Burton made it to the EFL Cup semi-finals (we'll gloss over their 10-0 aggregate defeat to Man City though) last month. The Midlands club got relegated from the Championship at the end of last season and are almost certainly going to have to settle for a midtable finish this time
Charlton Athletic v Southend United @3pm - at the other end of the table, the Addicks still find themselves firmly entrenched in the play-off places despite a 1-0 loss at Fleetwood on Saturday. Lee Bowyer's men still have a seven-point cushion over the chasing pack so should remain in the top group of clubs for a few weeks yet. With Southend only a little to the east of London, this is pretty much a derby but like Burton they're on 38 points and seem to have little to play for

FA Youth Cup Fifth Round
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - before moving on to the day's non-league action, it's worth pointing out this U18 match which is being played at Boreham Wood. Chelsea have totally dominated this competition in recent years but lost in the third round to Manchester United, meaning someone new is going to get their chance this year. The Gunners should start this match as strong favourites. Arsenal usually let people into their youth games for free but given it's an FA competition there might be a nominal charge - it shouldn't be more than £5 though

National League
Barnet v Sutton United @3pm - after all the thrills and spills of two thrilling 3-3 draws in the FA Cup and FA Trophy last week, Barnet return to the relative mundanity of league football. However, the visit of Sutton should also provide a decent spectacle as it's a north v south London derby. Interestingly, with the clubs yo-yoing between divisions over the decades they've hardly ever played each other. My exhaustive archive search has concluded that the last competitive meeting between the two was an FA Cup match in 1970 which Sutton won 2-0. On current form, United should win this one too

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Welling United @3pm - the match of the day in the sixth tier must be this south London derby. With the Hamlet winless since Boxing Day, the relegation zone is creeping ever closer and alarm bells must be starting to ring. Despite this they're still drawing huge crowds of around 3,000. Given the derby nature of this game and the fact that Welling are fighting hard for a play-off place, there should be another big attendance again

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Metropolitan Police v Weymouth @3pm - there's a real David & Goliath clash at Imber Court on Saturday where one of the division's smallest teams hosts its biggest. Despite the Met's lack of support they've been in the best form they've been in for years and are level on points with second placed Weymouth. Both clubs have two games in hand on leaders Taunton so they're in with a great chance of winning the title

Bostik League Premier Division
Corinthian Casuals v Lewes @3pm - a short journey away in Tolworth you've got this match between two clubs on the up. Casuals got promoted last season and have seen attendances rise by 45% this season as their popularity has soared. Lewes are one of the biggest clubs in the division and came up with CCs from the South Division last season. Of the three clubs promoted, the Rooks are making the best of things and could well make the play-offs again

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Maldon & Tiptree @3pm - it's third versus second at Parkside on Saturday as these two Essex clubs try to catch leaders Bowers & Pitsea who are just three points ahead. The clubs are also the highest scorers in the division so hopefully there'll be plenty of entertainment

Bostik League South Central
Hayes & Yeading United v Cheshunt @3pm - after the blip of a 2-2 draw at Ashford Town last Saturday, leaders H&YU responded with a 5-1 midweek win at Chalfont St Peter and an 8-1 drubbing of Hertford on Saturday to quell any doubts about their title ambitions. The west London club have now scored a ridiculous 95 goals in 23 league games (still more than any other club in the country) and are 12 points clear at the top. Cheshunt, at the time of writing, are fourth and have promotion ambitions of their own but will it be a case of damage limitation even for them?

Essex Senior League
Sporting Bengal United v Tower Hamlets @3pm - it's time for the Mile End Derby again. Both clubs share the same ground and originally have their roots in the local Bengali community. These days both clubs field players from all backgrounds but there is still a strong Asian presence on the pitch and in the stands. I've been to a few of these games in the past and for a ninth-tier game they can get quite lively

Combined Counties League Division 1
British Airways v Bedfont & Feltham @3pm - there's another interesting groundshare derby on the west side of town where tenants BA host their landlords. B&F, although third, are the title favourites because of their games in hand. The most notable thing about this ground is its location next the runway at Heathrow Airport so if you love football and plane spotting you'll think you've died and gone to heaven!
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Sunday 10 February

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City @130pm - after beating Newcastle on Saturday, Spurs briefly went second in the table. Man City's comfortable win over Arsenal on Sunday put them back down to third and that looks like being the lowest they'll probably finish given the seven-point gap between themselves and an inconsistent Chelsea. Leicester, unsurprisingly, have never come close to recapturing their title winning form but are dangerous opponents who are capable of beating anyone on their day. Although winless in four, they did manage a 1-1 draw at Liverpool in midweek and only narrowly lost to Manchester United on Sunday. Tickets are available to non-members if you want to go

FA Women's Championship
London Bees v Tottenham Hotspur @2pm - a short Tube ride from Wembley Park to Canons Park on the Jubilee Line will bring you to The Hive where this match is being played. It seems somewhat of a missed opportunity that this north London derby has been scheduled for pretty much the same time as the men's game above but what do I know? Spurs are currently top of this division and will want to win this derby to keep ahead of Charlton and Manchester United who look like their most likely challengers for the title




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, 27 January 2019

TLFG: 28 January - 3 February 2019

Welcome one and all to the latest edition of TLFG.

The highlights of this week have largely been provided by an exciting fourth round of the FA Cup which has been full of goals and one or two shocks.

Two of the biggest upsets were caused by London clubs with Millwall twice coming from behind to beat Everton 3-2 and AFC Wimbledon, struggling at the foot of League One, beating West Ham United 4-2 in games that were televised back-to-back on Saturday evening.

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace enjoyed an impressive 2-0 win over Tottenham who joined north London rivals Arsenal in tasting defeat - the Gunners succumbing 3-1 to Manchester United in the big game on Friday. Watford also recorded a very tidy 2-0 win at Newcastle to book their place in the fifth round too.

QPR salvaged a 1-1 draw at Portsmouth so will also be in the hat for the draw which takes place on Monday night around 7pm.

Chelsea were last to play, beating Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday evening. It capped off a great week for the Blues who also beat Spurs on penalties on Thursday night to book their place in next month's Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City.

Tickets for Tottenham's next three games at Wembley are all on general sale
With a rare weekend off, I fully intended to see a game and after a few last-minute challenges I ended up scrapping my initial plans and went to watch my nearest non-league side Hanwell Town take on Marlow in the Bostik League South Central.

Located just off the A40 and a short walk from Perivale Tube station, Hanwell is a pretty easy club to get to.

I was trying to work out when I'd last been and it could well have been six or seven years when I went to watch then groundsharers Southall in action.

Whenever it was, the ground had undergone a bit of a revamp with the most notable addition being a large electronic scoreboard on one side of the ground, the like of which you'll do well to find at any non-league ground never mind an eighth-tier one.

Nicknamed the Geordies, because they were founded by some people from Newcastle in 1920, they play in the famous black and white stripes of Newcastle United.

Moved from the Evo-Stik Southern League to the Bostik League at the start of this season because of the big restructure, Hanwell have won eight, drawn seven and lost eight of their games to sit 12th.

They have been models of inconsistency in recent weeks scoring six one week and none the next so it would be interesting to see how they would fare against a promotion chasing Marlow side.

Keeper Aaron Bufton can only watch as James Clark slots home Marlow's third
For me the visitors are most famous for playing Tottenham at White Hart Lane in the FA Cup back in 1993. It created a lot of interest in the club and they gave a decent account of themselves in what turned out to be a 5-1 defeat.

Saturday's game started off competitively enough with both sides creating chances until the first goal arrived for the visitors on the half hour before a second came shortly after, making it 2-0 at the interval.

Hanwell came out early after the break and appeared eager to reduce the deficit but when James Clark neatly finished Marlow's third on 54 minutes, the hosts fell apart.

Twenty minutes later it was 6-0 and it looked like the goals would just keep coming but thankfully for Hanwell it wasn't the case and Marlow settled for the win which lifted them up to second.

A decent crowd of 153 enjoyed this match - a very healthy turnout for eighth-tier football.

I think that will be it for me until next week when I fully intend to go to the QPR v Portsmouth game alluded to above. If you want to go it will be on Tuesday 5 February - tickets are only £15 and go on sale at 2pm on Monday 28 January.

Finally, thanks to Melissa B from Texas, USA who donated to TLFG's coffee drinking fund this week. I really appreciate it and thanks again to all those who have contributed in the past.

As always, have a great week and enjoy your football watching.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include action in the Premier League and EFL, the latest rounds of the FA Trophy and FA Vase plus loads of action in our local non-league competitions. There are also some eye-catching U23 matches too.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or the venue or kick-off time has changed - this is highly possible for some of the lower non-league clubs. 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 28 January

FA Cup Fourth Round
Barnet v Brentford @745pm - a thrilling round of FA Cup action comes to an end with this very interesting London derby at The Hive. After a weekend of shocks, non-league Barnet look well placed to upset their Championship opponents. The clubs haven't met since 2011 when they ground out a 0-0 draw in the EFL Trophy. In general, these games don't produce many goals but with the teams now three divisions apart that might not be the case this time. Tickets in home areas have sold out and I couldn't find any availability on Brentford's website either so don't make the journey without one

Professional Development League
Charlton Athletic v Crystal Palace @1pm - if you're around during the afternoon then this lunchtime U23 match at The Valley is a fine way to while away a couple of hours - UPDATE: THIS MATCH IS NOW ON TUESDAY

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Redbridge @745pm - after seeing a fine crowd turn out for their last Monday night game against Hullbridge, the 'Side will be hoping for an even better crowd for the visit of the club who effectively forced them out of their own ground.  Way back in 2001-02, Redbridge (then known as Ford United) bought the lease off Barkingside but allowed them to groundshare. In 2014 they put the rent up to an unaffordable level and Barkingside opted to move to Ilford where they continue to this day

A bit further afield
Colchester United v Queens Park Rangers @7pm - if you fancy ticking Colchester's ground off your list then this U23 match is a great chance to do it. It's a fair distance from the town centre but is very accessible by car. For some reason, the U's charge an inexplicable £10 to get into U23 games so be prepared for it

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Tuesday 29 January

Premier League
Arsenal v Cardiff City @745pm - neither of these sides have been having a great time of late. The Gunners got dumped out of the FA Cup on Friday by a resurgent Manchester United and Cardiff are struggling to win in the league and are still suffering the effects of losing new signing Emiliano Sala in a plane crash on Monday - although the search for him is still ongoing. It says quite a lot about the current state of affairs at Arsenal that this match actually went on general sale for a while - something which hardly ever happens for Premier League games. Anything less than a home win will be seen as an upset
Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion @745pm - three defeats on the bounce have left the Cottagers seven points adrift of safety so they've got to start picking up points soon or relegation will become a certainty. Midtable Brighton are one of those teams that they simply must beat if they can seriously think about turning things around. The Sussex club have sold out their allocation but tickets are available in home areas of the ground and also in Fulham's (in)famous neutral section

Professional Development League
Charlton Athletic v Crystal Palace @1pm - if you're around during the afternoon then this lunchtime U23 match at The Valley is a fine way to while away a couple of hours

London Senior Cup Quarter-Finals
Welling United v Leyton Orient @745pm - with the first two quarter-finals already played, the second two take place on Tuesday. This is the bigger match with two of London's biggest non-league sides going head-to-head. As it is only a county cup competition and both sides are pushing for promotion in their respective divisions, a few players will probably be rested but it should still be worth a watch
Clapton v Harrow Borough @745pm - the winners of the tie above will then travel to whoever comes out on top at The Old Spotted Dog. If you've never heard of it, the OSD is the oldest football ground in London so should be on the list of anyone with a sense of history. It is incredibly run down and the crowd will probably be small, since the departure of the Clapton Ultras, but you must get it ticked off your list if you're a groundhopper. On paper Harrow, who play two levels above Clapton, should win. Manager Steve Baker has been taking county cups pretty seriously so far this season and saw his side score nine against the last ninth-tier side they played against

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Wednesday 30 January

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Watford @8pm - for me, this derby at Wembley should be one of the best matches of the week. Both sides are in the top seven and often produce entertaining games. This will be the third time the sides have met this season. Watford won the reverse fixture 2-1 at Vicarage Road in early September before losing on penalties in an Carabao Cup tie after a 2-2 draw. Despite my positive vibes about this fixture, there appear to be plenty of tickets on general sale so you should have no trouble getting to watch this match

Essex Senior League
Walthamstow v Stanway Rovers @745pm - the hosts crushed Redbridge 5-1 on Saturday to remain as London's top club in this league. Up in fifth, they are still way off the top four so this is realistically as high as they are likely to go. Stanway are slap bang in the middle of the table so should be beaten

A bit further afield
There's not much else happening within the confines of the M25 on Wednesday so I've added a few games from the home counties to the match map. The most notable is the Premier League game between Southampton and Crystal Palace which at the time of writing does have a few tickets left for it. There are several trains back to London after the match so it is very doable. There is also a Premier League International Cup U23 match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Bayern Munich down in Sussex but it's being played at Brighton's training ground which although impressive is still only a training ground - also check before you head off whether you will be admitted and how much it costs as details are sketchy at the moment (UPDATE: some TLFG readers are reporting that this has sold out already). There are also several non-league games which you can find on the map too

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Thursday 31 January

A bit further afield
Having gone through all the fixture resources I could find, it appears the only match of any note in the whole of England is the FA Youth Cup tie between Derby County and Manchester City at Pride Park. To be clear, this is an U18s match a long way from London but admission is free and the 7pm kick-off means you should be able to get the last direct train back to London at 2122 - if you make it to this I'll be very impressed/slightly worried!

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Friday 1 February

Professional Development League

Watford v Cardiff City @3pm - the Hornets' U23 side play their latest Friday afternoon game at Wingate & Finchley's ground against the Bluebirds. Neither team have been pulling up any trees this season but I can think of far worse things to do

A bit further afield
For the second week running, the Essex town of Harlow could well be your destination for some Friday night football as Woodford Town take on Redbridge in the Essex Senior League
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Saturday 2 February

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United @1230pm - a full programme of top-flight action gets underway at lunchtime with this important match at Wembley. With Spurs looking to catch Manchester City and the Magpies teetering just above the relegation zone, this will have ramifications at both ends of the table. Newcastle have been pretty tough to beat on their travels this season but Tottenham have won their last three against Rafa Benitez's side and will expect to triumph again. As with the Watford game above, tickets are available on general sale
Crystal Palace v Fulham @3pm - next up in order of importance must be this derby between two sides who are fighting to avoid the drop. Both have midweek games so the picture for both could be very different come kick-off. Unsurprisingly a big crowd is expected with the away section already sold out. If you want to get one for the home end then membership is required
Chelsea v Huddersfield Town @3pm - aside from hospitality packages, this match has also sold out. In theory this game against bottom club Huddersfield should be a bit of a stroll for the Blues but maybe with new boss Jan Siewert, another youthful German, now in charge the Terriers could have a chance

Championship
Brentford v Blackburn Rovers @3pm - although way down in 18th, the Bees are starting to string together a decent unbeaten run. Next up they face Blackburn who with four wins in a row are one of the form teams of the division. Up in eighth and just three points off a play-off spot they should be tough opponents
Millwall v Rotherham United @3pm - after enjoying the glory of a televised FA Cup win over Everton on Saturday, the Lions return to earth with a far less glamorous fixture against Rotherham. It is, however, a very important one as they look to put more daylight between themselves and the relegation zone - if results go their way, they could be eight points clear by the end of the day


With all of our other local EFL teams playing away, the focus next moves to non-league games and Saturday gives us the chance to enjoy the next rounds of the FA Trophy and FA Vase where both are down to their last 16 teams. Both competitions have their finals on the same day in May at Wembley. The Trophy is for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers and the Vase is for clubs in the ninth to 11th tiers.

FA Trophy Third Round
Leyton Orient v Blyth Spartans @3pm - one of the beauties of this competition is that it throws clubs together who would rarely if ever play each other. To my knowledge these two have never played before and it's no surprise as the O's have spent most of their history in the EFL and Blyth have been playing in the regional leagues of the north east for most of their history. The hosts are currently top of the National League so should in theory be the top seeds to win this competition. Blyth are midtable a level below so will arrive as significant underdogs. However, they do have a proud history in the FA Cup and even made it as far as fifth round on one occasion so are no strangers to causing an upset
Carshalton Athletic v Barnet @3pm - after facing Brentford in the FA Cup on Monday, the Bees then travel to south London for some more knockout football against the Robins. Playing two divisions above their hosts, Barnet should start as strong favourites. Having never won the Trophy before, you'd like to think new boss Darren Currie would make it one of his priorities especially with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs. Carshalton have struggled to find any form in the Bostik League this season but this cup run is keeping things interesting. The 4G pitch they use may also prove to be a bit of a leveller

FA Vase Fifth Round
Cray Valley PM v Abbey Rangers @3pm - this is the first round of the competition where the draw has stopped being north/south and been nationalised so anybody could draw anybody else. Somehow two of the three remaining TLFG clubs managed to get each other thus avoiding what could have been a long journey north. This match couldn't be much better balanced with both sides sitting fourth in their respective ninth-tier divisions. South-east London club Cray have had a good record in cup competitions in recent seasons and this represents their best ever showing in the Vase. Abbey, who hail from Addlestone in Surrey, are a relatively new club so they must be pinching themselves that they've got this far. The other TLFG side to have made the fifth round are Abbey's neighbours Chertsey Town who face a tough trip up to Manchester to play Irlam - all the best to them

National League
Boreham Wood v Wrexham @3pm - the hosts are five without a win and will do well to pick up three points here as Welsh giants Wrexham will look to keep their title challenge on track. The former third-tier club have been in this division for way too long and are one of the five sides separated by just four points at the top of the table MATCH OFF

National League South
Wealdstone v Billericay Town @3pm - represented by a number of big characters both on and off the field, this would appear to be the game of the day in the sixth tier. Essex club Billericay won the Bostik League title last season after spending a huge amount of money on the wages of a few former Premier League players. This season, they've scaled things back a bit but owner Glenn Tamplin is still behaving erratically especially when it comes to the hiring and firing of managers and their form has suffered. Still in the top five, promotion is very much a possibility but the Stones in 10th are very much in the reckoning themselves and will want to bridge what is only a four-point gap between the clubs here MATCH OFF

Bostik League South Central Division
Hayes & Yeading United v Hertford Town @3pm - nothing really stands out in the seventh tier this week and there's not much that really grabs me in the eighth tier either so why not get yourself along to see the highest scoring club in at least the top eight levels of English football. With 82 goals from 21 league games you'll be sure to be entertained at Hayes & Yeading. It's also the first full season they've played in their fine new ground so check it out if you've not yet been

Essex Senior League
Leyton Athletic v Walthamstow @3pm - this match is notable simply because it's a groundshare derby. Leyton Athletic were known as Wadham Lodge (the name of the ground) until the start of this season but they changed it as did Walthamstow (who were known as Waltham Forest). The change hasn't done much for the hosts who recently went bottom and stayed there after losing 7-0 at Saffron Walden on Saturday. As mentioned above, Walthamstow are in much better form and should win

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Welling Town v Erith & Belvedere @3pm - it's first versus fourth at Bayliss Avenue where the hosts will look to extend their lead at the top to eight points. As far as I understand it, only the top two can be considered for promotion so E&B really need to win big derby games like this MATCH OFF

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Sunday 3 February

Women's FA Cup Fourth Round
Sunday's football in London is totally dominated by this competition. The pick of the ties would appear to be Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur which is being played at Bromley's ground at 2pm. There are also home games for AFC Wimbledon, Charlton Athletic, Millwall and West Ham United - bear in mind that none of these teams are playing at the same stadium as their male counterparts so check all the details on the match map.

A bit further afield
The only men's game I can find is the interesting FA Vase Fifth Round tie between Biggleswade FC and Windsor. The match is being played at Biggleswade Town's ground which appears to be very walkable from the town's station. Direct trains from Kings Cross take about 45 minutes but there's only one every hour so make sure you check your departure times carefully. The hosts look well placed to challenge for the Spartan South Midlands League title this season whilst Windsor are midtable in the parallel ninth tier Hellenic League so a home win looks likely.

There are also a number of Women's FA Cup ties just beyond the edge of London and these are also on the match map.


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!

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