Monday, 17 September 2018

TLFG: 17-23 September 2018

Welcome one and all to this week's guide - still a bit late but earlier than last week.

It's been another hectic few days and once again I didn't get to see any live football - I think my last match was QPR's pre-season game at AFC Wimbledon a couple of months ago but I hope to get out there again soon.

I don't have a huge amount to report this week other than a couple of bits of news relating to Non-League Day (NLD).

Firstly, I'm pleased to say we sold all of our badges and raised £120 for Prostate Cancer UK (PCUK) in the process so thanks a lot if you ordered one.

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On the charity theme of the day, PCUK were also announced as the official charity partners of the National League for the rest of the season with sponsors Vanarama temporarily renaming the competition the Manarama National League.

The vehicle leasing business have pledged to donate £50 to the charity for every car they manage to lease out to people through their Motorama arm until NLD on 13 October - so if you're looking for a car, go to them. Their target is to raise £150,000 which would be fantastic!

Some of our other partners have yet to unveil their plans for Non-League Day but I've been given a preview and there's some exciting stuff in the pipeline which I hope to share with you over the next few weeks.

With the draw for the First Round of the FA Vase taking place on Monday, we'll get a much clearer picture of all the games taking place on 13 October so you'll be able to choose where you'll spend your afternoon should you wish to take part.

On the subject of the FA Vase, I'd like to give a special mention to St Panteleimon who pulled off another cupset on Saturday by beating Long Buckby.

There's now less than four weeks to go until this year's Non-League Day

The Saints, who play in the 11th tier, have never entered the Vase before and have now beaten two higher ranked sides to make the First Round which is some achievement.

The club are also currently challenging for the Middlesex County League title alongside Pitshanger Dynamo and PFC Victoria London in what looks like being a very competitive division - keep your eye on all of them as the season progresses.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with the Premier League and Championship taking centre stage. There are also a load of ties in the next round of the FA Cup.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or 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 17 September

Professional Development League
Watford v Ipswich Town @2pm - there are three U23 games in London on Monday with this one at Vicarage Road being the best on offer. The other games are being hosted by Millwall and QPR but are at the clubs' training grounds so check before you travel whether the public will be admitted

Velocity Trophy First Round
Carshalton Athletic v Corinthian Casuals @745pm - the best non-league option would seem to be this cup match between between two Bostik League Premier Division sides. If you don't know, the Velocity Trophy is the Bostik (Isthmian) League Cup by another name

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Tuesday 18 September

Checkatrade Trophy
AFC Wimbledon v Swansea City U21 @745pm - this competition has had its opponents with the Dons being among the most vociferous critics. They barely publicise their games in it and consequently attendances are pretty low. Tickets are £10 and are not available in advance

National League
Sutton United v Boreham Wood @745pm - there will probably be a bigger crowd a short journey down the road for this non-league London derby between two sides who narrowly missed out on promotion to the EFL last season

London Senior Cup First Round
Harrow Borough v Hendon @745pm - the pick of the night's county cup ties could well be this derby between two old rivals from north-west London. Over the last two or three years, matches between these two have produced stacks of goals with the last one, just a couple of weeks ago, ending in a 4-2 win for Boro

FA Vase Second Qualifying Round Replay
Spelthorne Sports v Bugbrooke St Michaels @745pm - after fighting out a thrilling 3-3 draw up in Northamptonshire on Saturday, these two will do it all again on Tuesday for a place in the First Round proper

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Wednesday 19 September

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Millwall @745pm - picked for live television coverage by Sky, this London derby is often very closely fought - sadly on and off the pitch.The Lions' fans usually travel in great numbers and sold out their initial allocation in quick time. I've been to several of these games over the last 15 years and I can't remember a time which didn't feature an unsavoury moment in or around the ground. Historically Millwall have a good record against QPR and rarely lose at Loftus Road but they haven't won there since 1989

FA Vase Second Qualifying Round Replay
Bridon Ropes v Tunbridge Wells @745pm - the hosts did well to hold Tunbridge Wells to a 1-1 draw on Saturday. The Ropes play a division below their opponents but should fancy their chances against the 2013 finalists who have lost five of their six league games thus far

FA Women's Super League
West Ham United v Reading @745pm - the Hammers are new to this level and play their first game in it against the Royals who began their season with a 4-0 win over Yeovil so it could be tough

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Thursday 20 September

Europa League
Arsenal v FC Vorskla @ - 8pm - after a disappointing sixth-placed finish in the Premier League, the Gunners are having to make do with Europa League football again this season. With a run to the semi-finals last time, they are unsurprisingly one of the favourites to win. Drawn in a group alongside Sporting Lisbon, FK Qarabag and Ukrainian club Vorskla, they should make the knockout phase without too much difficulty. Rarely for a first-team match at the Emirates Stadium, tickets are on general sale at decent prices so take your chance if it's on your to-do list

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Friday 21 September

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Liverpool @7pm - if you're a Gunners fan, you can watch the U23 side in action less than 24 hours later up at Boreham Wood's ground in what should be a decent game

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Clapton @745pm - if you fancy something a little more gritty and meaningful, you might fancy this east London derby. A couple of years ago when the Clapton Ultras were fully behind their team then this would have been a great place to spend a Friday night but they fell out with those running the club and after a year or more of boycotting home games, they recently disbanded and now the Tons have gone back to playing in front of much smaller crowds which is a great shame

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Beckenham Town v Rusthall @745pm - the Becks have got off to a great start and currently top the league. They should stay there after this game as Rusthall are struggling
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Saturday 22 September

Premier League
Fulham v Watford @1230pm - a very full weekend of top flight action in the capital gets underway with this derby at Craven Cottage. With only one win from five, the hosts have found their return to their Premier League pretty tough going. The Hornets, on the other hand, had a 100% record until Saturday when they lost to Manchester United. Despite this setback, they'd have to start as favourites in my book
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United @3pm - any team in the bottom half of the table can be regarded as a viable contender for relegation so every win is vital. Palace picked up their second of the season with a valuable away victory at Huddersfield on Saturday. The Magpies are finding things a bit tougher and have only managed to glean one point from their opening five games and could well flounder again here

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Norwich City @530pm - you can spend your whole day in west London if you combine this match with the one at Fulham. QPR have ended up on Sky again (yes - twice in a matter of days) for a match that is often competitive and well attended. Given what travel is like from East Anglia, games in London have a bit of derby feel to them with Canaries fans often turning out in force. After a dreadful start, Steve McClaren seems to be turning things around at Rangers with the club now unbeaten in four games. Norwich are usually expected to challenge for promotion so they'll be disappointed with the indifferent start they've made

League One
Charlton Athletic v Plymouth Argyle @3pm - with three wins on the trot, the Addicks are the form team of the division. They should extend that run here as Plymouth are winless and rooted to the bottom of the table

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Chelsea @1pm - with the first XIs set to meet on Sunday, the U23 teams will do battle at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground on Saturday lunchtime. If you get a shift on, you should be able to combine this with the match at Barking at 3pm or you could easily make it over to Shepherd's Bush for the QPR game later on

National League
Sutton United v Wrexham @3pm - the U's were the top ranked non-league club in London last season, finishing third in the National League. Sadly they lost out in the play-offs so will have another go again this year. With only one defeat from their opening 10 games, they're right up amongst the contenders again but so are Wrexham who are in even better form and up in second

FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
At this stage all sides in the sixth tier (i.e. National League North and National League South) enter the draw alongside those who have successfully made it through the three previous rounds. A sum of £9,000 is awarded to the winner of each tie. There are quite a few ties in London on Saturday but here are three I particularly like the look of

Dulwich Hamlet v Tonbridge Angels @3pm - over the last few years these two were rivals for promotion in the Bostik League. Last season Dulwich finally made it up whilst Tonbridge finished well short. This season the Hamlet have struggled to get to grips with life at the higher level but managed to stun leaders Woking with a fine win in Surrey on Saturday. Conversely, Angels are unbeaten in seven and top of the Bostik League so should arrive at Imperial Fields in confident mood
Egham Town v Brightlingsea Regent @3pm - after upsetting local rivals Staines in the last round, the Sarnies face another seventh level opponent this time in the form of Bostik Premier side Brightlingsea. The Essex club haven't had a great start to the season and Egham may well fancy their chances
Hanwell Town v Lowestoft Town @3pm - the Geordies play in the same division as Egham but have overall made a much better start to this campaign. Like the Sarnies they also beat a seventh-tier opponent in the previous round so should be capable of repeating the feat here on Saturday

Bostik League South Central
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Bracknell Town @3pm - if the FA Cup's not for you then this match near Heathrow could be. The Tangerines have made a solid start to the season but will need to be at their best as Bracknell are top with a 100% record from five games

Bostik League South East
Cray Wanderers v Hythe Town @3pm - London's oldest club have made a fine start to their campaign and are top of this division after five games. Kent side Hythe aren't far behind and are usually among the challengers

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Chertsey Town v Cobham @3pm - former AFC Wimbledon manager Dave Anderson is working his magic at Alwyns Lane where the unbeaten Curfews top the league despite having played three games less than their nearest challengers - and they've only played six games! Cobham are ailing near the foot of the table and should be picked off with relative ease

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Hadley v Tring Athletic @3pm - the Bricks have only played four games but find themselves in the top six. They have three games in hand on the current leaders who by chance are Tring so a win here will put them firmly among the contenders

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Enfield Borough v Amersham Town @3pm - the Panthers have made a really good start with five wins from seven in the league. On Sunday they also saw off the higher ranked Sporting Bengal United to the make the First Round of the FA Vase. If they win here against midtable Amersham then they could go top

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Sunday 23 September

Premier League
West Ham United v Chelsea @130pm - the Hammers picked up their first three points of the season on Sunday with a 3-1 win at Everton. The result saw them climb off the bottom and jump four places up the table, showing just how close clubs are and how important every point is at this level. The Blues are having no such difficulties and moved top of the Premier League on goal difference after beating Cardiff 4-1 on Saturday. They should win again here but West Ham often raise their game against the Blues and have won three of their last four home games against the Stamford Bridge club
Arsenal v Everton @4pm - later in the afternoon there's some more top-flight action over at the Emirates. Both sides have made unspectacular starts to their campaigns but with three wins on the bounce, the Gunners might be starting to come good

FA Women's Super League
Arsenal v West Ham United @2pm - with both clubs' men's sides in action on Sunday afternoon, the scheduling of this match seems a bit unfortunate. Nevertheless, the Gunners should be among the frontrunners this season and with favourites Chelsea and Man City sharing the points in their big game last week, they went top after crushing Liverpool 5-0 in their opening game

FA Women's Championship
London Bees v Manchester United @2pm - having gone many years without a women's team of their own, Man Utd have finally set one up and have joined the second tier in time for this season. They began in spectacular style, destroying Aston Villa 12-0 so hosts London Bees will need to ready themselves for a tough afternoon 

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, 10 September 2018

TLFG: 10-16 September 2018

Apologies one and all for the late publication of this week's guide.

Quite by chance, it turns out that there's no senior football taking place in the London area today (Monday) anyway so you're not likely to miss much.

As I mentioned recently, the blog could start to tail off a bit as the birth of my second child next month gets closer and it seems to have happened a bit sooner than I originally expected.

With ante-natal classes and decorators playing a huge part in changing my normal weekend schedule, many of my normal activities went by the wayside.

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The biggest story of the weekend, from a personal point of view, occurred on Sunday afternoon when a trip to the park turned into a bit of a drama.

Whilst sitting on an ornamental rock, my five-year-old approached me and asked if I wanted to see something she and some friends had unearthed under a tree a couple of days before.

Initially non-plussed by the idea of inspecting an odd-shaped stone or similar, I wandered over and was greeted by a far more alarming sight.

Poking out of the soil was a small metal circular object which immediately screamed to me of World War Two ordnance.

Not wanting to cause a panic or make a fool of myself near a busy playground, I took a photo and tweeted it to the local police who almost immediately told me to dial 999.



Les Ferdinand and Andy Sinton at the QPR Community Trust 10th anniversary reception

Within minutes the park had numerous officers descend on it and after an initial assessment they evacuated everyone.

I received a call later that afternoon from the police to say that it was found to be a 'viable device' from WW2 and thanks for reporting it. It seems like my daughter and friends had a lucky escape!

Strangely, I did exactly the same thing when I was at primary school in the '80s - digging up a Nazi device with a friend in our playground which got us all an afternoon off.

Aside from this, and on a totally different note, I was lucky enough to attend the reception to mark the 10th anniversary of the QPR Community Trust on Tuesday at Loftus Road.

There were some great speeches from those involved and I got to meet former player Andy Sinton (a hero of my youth), club CEO Lee Hoos and I also got to talk about the challenges facing the club in the hunt for a new stadium with those tasked with securing somewhere.

On the subject of Non-League Day, for the first time this year, we've produced a limited number of enamel badges to mark the event and these can be ordered for £3 (+£1.25 P&P) from my colleague Ian who can be contacted here but there are only a few left. The day itself, on 13 October, is now only a few weeks away so put the date in your diary now.

Lastly this week I'd like to say a big thanks to all the readers who have emailed and posted on social media - I really appreciate your words of support and the effort taken to post your pictures and match updates, especially as my chances to get out and about are becoming limited.
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THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with the Premier League and Championship making their return after the international break. There are also a load of ties in the next round of the FA Vase.

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
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.

Tuesday 10 September

Kent Senior Cup Second Round
Welling United v Gillingham @745pm - with no matches in the London area at all on Monday, the first game of the week of note is this one between the Wings and the Gills from League One. The visitors are more than likely to only field an U23 side but it should be worth a watch

FA Cup First Qualifying Round Replays
Walton Casuals v Beckenham Town @745pm - while the match above might feature some higher quality players, these replays are arguably far more important for the participating clubs as the £6,000 prize money for winning will make a big difference. The hosts, who play two levels above the Becks, should start as strong favourites
Whyteleafe v Corinthian Casuals @745pm - these two were in the same division last season but Casuals ended up getting promoted. In theory they should therefore be more likely to win but they've failed to win a league match this season and could be there for the taking

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Wednesday 11 September

Friendly
Brentford B v Huddersfield Town U23 @1pm - get down to the Bees' training ground if you fancy a bit of free football at lunchtime

FA Cup First Qualifying Round Replay
Cray Valley PM v Merstham @745pm - the non-league pick of the night takes place in south-east London where the ninth-tier hosts will be looking to upset the visitors who play two levels above them - they're in reasonable form so it is doable

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Friday 14 September

Premier League 2
Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers @7pm - get your weekend underway with some U23 football at the Cottagers' training ground, it's £3 on the gate and I'm told the facilities for spectators are pretty good

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Saturday 15 September

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool @ - 1230pm - the top flight returns from the international break with a bang as two of the title contenders do battle at Wembley. Spurs have begun to cement themselves as a member of the exclusive 'Top Four' group over the last few years just as the Reds have started to show a surge in improvement too. At the time of writing, Tottenham are just outside the leading pack but a win against the current leaders will put them right back in it
Chelsea v Cardiff City @3pm - the Blues are also right up there with Liverpool as life under new manager Maurizio Sarri has begun well. Neil Warnock's latest attempt to flourish in the Premier League is once again stalling but it is early days, however, they're unlikely to get anything here
Watford v Manchester United @530pm - the day finishes off with another very interesting fixture. The Hornets have had a superb start to the season and are joint top with Liverpool and Chelsea. They saw off Tottenham in their last game so an out of sorts Man Utd shouldn't hold any extra fears

Championship
Brentford v Wigan Athletic @3pm - despite being two of the smallest clubs in the division, these two are more than holding their own. The Bees have been building a fine side over the last few years and are right up among the promotion challengers again. The Latics occupied a Premier League place for several years and won the FA Cup in 2013 but it all went wrong after that. Last season they found themselves in League One but got promoted and have begun well this time too
Millwall v Leeds United @3pm - the match of the day at this level, certainly in London, is to be found at The Den. The Lions had a great second half of last season and looked likely to grab a play-off place before falling away at the last moment. This campaign has got off to a sluggish start and they've now lost three in a row. Leeds, on the other hand, are unbeaten in six and top of the table so should be incredibly tough opposition. Also, these clubs' fans have two of the worst reputations in the country so if you're new to London and looking for a family day out, this might not be the match for you. Surprisingly, tickets are on sale to non-members and I haven't seen anything to say it's all ticket but it is approaching a sell out so don't delay buying one if you do want to go

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Scunthorpe United @3pm - elsewhere in the EFL there's only one other game to choose from and it's this one at Kingsmeadow. On paper, with both teams in lower midtable, it doesn't look like being a classic so there might well be better options available

National League
Leyton Orient v Barnet @3pm - one of them is this game at Brisbane Road where two London rivals, who were both previously in the EFL, go head-to-head. Unbeaten this season, the O's have made a great start and are just two points behind leaders Harrogate. Although down in tenth, the Bees are the form team of the division with five wins on the bounce so this could well be a corker. It could quite conceivably get a crowd in excess of 5,000 too
Bromley v Salford City @3pm - with only two wins from their opening 10 games, a few concerns will be starting to creep in at Hayes Lane where more was probably expected from last season's FA Trophy finalists. This Saturday, you've got another chance to run the rule over big spending Salford who made headlines in July by persuading Adam Rooney to leave Aberdeen for English non-league football despite the fact the Dons were in the Europa League. Things didn't start all that smoothly for the club, owned by Man Utd legends the Nevilles, Giggs, Scholes and Butt, but they seem to have found their feet and have moved into the top six
Dagenham & Redbridge v Chesterfield @3pm - with ailing finances, the Daggers were in all kinds of trouble at the bottom of the division. However, with former England caretaker manager Peter Taylor in the manager's hotseat, the east London club have started to turn things around. Unbeaten in three, they've climbed three places and will almost certainly move clear of the relegation zone if they win here. The Spireites were a League Two side last season but finished bottom and, after a positive start, seem to be finding the transition to non-league football a tough one. Now winless in six, they will slip below the Daggers if they lose here


National League South
Wealdstone v Chelmsford City @3pm - at the time of writing, the Stones are sitting pretty in sixth and are firmly among the play-off contenders. On Saturday they welcome Chelmsford who seem to challenge for promotion every year but never quite make it. Although down in 11th, this division looks like being very competitive again with only six points separating the teams between second and 13th

Bostik League Premier Division
Carshalton Athletic v Bognor Regis Town @3pm - the Robins won the South Division last year to  make their return to the league's top division after several seasons away. It's still early but they should be reasonably satisfied with eight points from five games. Bognor suffered relegation from the NLS last season and are showing strong signs of being able to make an immediate return

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Hendon v Poole Town @3pm - of the sides shunted unceremoniously from the Bostik to Evo-Stik Leagues over the summer, the Greens have made the best start. Sixth after six games, the north-west London club must be pretty happy with how they've adjusted to the long journeys (there have so far been trips to Frome, Taunton and Swindon). On Saturday they welcome a club from Dorset who often do well in this division and who gave current Southampton striker Charlie Austin the platform he needed to turn pro


FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
This competition is for clubs in the ninth to 11th tiers of the English game. It is a knockout competition with its final at Wembley in May. This round sees another 120 clubs enter the action, meaning the vast majority of entrants are now in the draw (of 638 teams who entered, only another 46 will be added over the next two rounds). Ties are still generally regionalised at this stage with the winners of each tie receiving £725 and the losers £250. Several ties are being played around London but here are a few I really like the look of

AFC Croydon Athletic v Lingfield @3pm - one of the highest ranked ninth-tier teams in the London area, the Rams should represent one of the city's best chances of doing well this season. They welcome opposition from Surrey who also play in the ninth tier but in the parallel Southern Combination
Sporting Club Thamesmead v Banstead Athletic @3pm - also amongst the contenders in the ninth tier are Banstead. The Surrey club are unbeaten in nine league games so far and should start as strong favourites in this one
Southall v Wembley @3pm - I've gone for this as it's got the flavour of a derby about it. Both play in the ninth tier and although neither are pulling up any trees, I just like the look of it. Southall made the final in 1986 and had another good run a couple of years ago. As for Wembley, well they've never played under the stadium's famous arch but they can see it from their ground
Harefield United v Oxhey Jets @3pm - these two don't play a million miles apart either. They used to be in the same division but the Hare are now a level below and will want to cause an upset
St Panteleimon v Long Buckby @3m - the hosts, who play at North Greenford United's ground, are competing in the Vase for the first time and caused quite an upset by beating Holmer Green in the last round. This time their opponents, from Northamptonshire, play just one level above them and are struggling so they've got a great chance of making further progress
Cricklewood Wanderers v North Greenford United @3pm - talking of North Greenford, they make the short trip to Vale Farm to play another one of the remaining 11th tier teams. Cricklewood play two divisions below their opponents and have barely played this season so they'll do very well to win

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Sunday 16 September

FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
With several clubs groundsharing, there are also three ties to be enjoyed on Sunday afternoon. Broadfields United entertain fellow north-west Londoners Edgware Town, Enfield Borough have a London derby against Sporting Bengal United (at 2pm) and Cray Valley (PM) welcome Hailsham Town from Sussex

FA Continental Tyres Cup
There are three women's games in the capital on Sunday with Crystal Palace v Chelsea at Bromley's ground the standout fixture

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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, 3 September 2018

TLFG: 3-9 September 2018

Welcome one and all to this week's TLFG - I hope you're well.

With this weekend's action concluded, the first international break of the season begins and with it the usual chorus of groans and moans that there is 'no football going on'.

There may not be any Premier League or Championship action but there are well over 70 other matches for you to enjoy elsewhere in the EFL, National League and FA Cup - to name just three competitions. There also one or two rather unusual matches taking place too - see the daily digest below.

Why not go to the match that's causing the break in the first place?

Thanks to their showing at the World Cup, England's match against Spain at Wembley now looks far more tempting than it did before the tournament in Russia and tickets are still available. Its evening kick-off time means it can also easily be combined with another match earlier in the day with some clubs close to the national stadium offering great deals on admission and even parking to get you interested.

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Having spent the last week or so holidaying in Somerset and Sussex, I'm now back in the capital and have a couple of football related events booked later in the week.

The first is a reception to mark 10 years of the QPR Community Trust who I have done a bit of work with over that time and the second is still to be confirmed but could include a live TV appearance as the promotion of this year's Non-League Day starts to really get going.



Non-League Day is coming up and you can order a limited edition badge to show your support
On the subject of Non-League Day, for the first time this year, we've produced a limited number of enamel badges to mark the event and these can be ordered for £3 (+£1.25 P&P) from my colleague Ian who can be contacted here.

Lastly this week I'd like to say a big thanks to the two readers who have very generously donated to TLFG's coffee drinking fund this week. Both have been very supportive of this blog for a long time, contributing and offering kind words numerous times over the years. So many thanks once again to Chris H and Mr Anonymous (you know who you are) - it means a huge amount to me and I really appreciate it. Thanks also to all those who wished me well with the birth of my second child, scheduled for next month - what a great bunch TLFG readers are.
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THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 70 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with the FA Cup and non-league football more generally dominating proceedings during the international break.

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



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 3 September


Professional Development League
The week begins with several U23 games in this competition. The highlights are matches at Crystal Palace and QPR who are both playing at their main stadiums in lunchtime kick-offs

FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay
Erith Town v Loxwood @730pm - once you've digested one of the games above you could move on to this cup tie in south-east London. The original tie in Surrey ended in a 1-1 draw - the victors will travel on Saturday to the winners of the other replay between Raynes Park Vale and Spelthorne Sports


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Tuesday 4 September

Checkatrade Trophy Group Stage
Charlton Athletic v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - the much maligned Checkatrade Trophy gets underway again on Tuesday with this decent looking London derby. Tickets to watch these two crosstown rivals from League One go head-to-head are only £10

National League
Leyton Orient v Solihull Moors @745pm - there are four very decent games in the fifth tier on Tuesday night with this the pick of the bunch. The O's are averaging crowds of well over 4,000 and are rewarding their fans with some decent results. Unbeaten in their first eight games they're up in fifth only a point behind leaders Wrexham in what appears to be a very competitive division. The visitors are also right in there among the leaders so this could be a cracker
Boreham Wood v Chesterfield @745pm - after a disappointing start, The Wood are now unbeaten in three and gradually climbing the table. On Tuesday they welcome the Spireites who in May became the latest long-term members of the EFL to fall into non-league football. With new boss Martin Allen in place for the new season they got off to a flying start but now it's all gone wrong and they've lost five in a row and could well be there for the taking
Bromley v Barnet @745pm - there's a derby at Hayes Lane where two clubs from north and south London separated by only one point in midtable do battle. Bromley made the FA Trophy final at Wembley last season whilst the Bees, like Chesterfield, fell out of the EFL
Dagenham & Redbridge v Braintree Town @745pm - there's an early season relegation six-pointer at Victoria Road where the bottom two scrap for points - it's also an all-Essex affair

FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay
Hanworth Villa v AFC Croydon Athletic @730pm - managed by former Fulham defender Rufus Brevett, Hanworth have had an iffy start to their campaign but did well to hold the Rams in the original game last week. AFC Croydon are currently joint top of the SCEFL so must start as favourites. A trip to AFC Uckfield Town awaits the winners
Spelthorne Sports v Raynes Park Vale @745pm - the other replay of the night sees two well matched midtable CCL Premier Division teams meet again


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Wednesday 5 September

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Beckenham Town v Croydon @745pm - with AFC Croydon playing in the cup on Tuesday, the Becks have a great chance to leapfrog them and go top with a win against the Rams' near neighbours. The Trams have made a very poor start, losing all four of their league games

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Saturday 8 September

Uefa Nations League
England v Spain @745pm - the Three Lions play their first game since returning from what was seen overall as a successful World Cup in Russia. This is also Gareth Southgate's side's first match in the all new Uefa Nations League - a competition so unnecessarily convoluted I won't go into it here. Essentially it's a way of making friendlies a bit more meaningful and with games against Los Toros and Croatia, they don't come much bigger right now. Whoever comes top of this group of three teams goes into the semi-finals against the winners of the other three groups at this top level of European football

Friendly
Arsenal Legends v Real Madrid Legends @2pm - one of the great things about England's late kick-off at Wembley is that it gives you plenty of time to combine it with another game. Over at the Emirates Stadium there's another type of England v Spain encounter with an old boys game between two of the biggest clubs in those countries. These matches usually draw big crowds and with Spain also in town, there should be even greater interest

League One
Charlton Athletic v Wycombe Wanderers @3pm - if you fancy something a bit more meaningful then this encounter at The Valley might be more to your liking. Wycombe play just outside London so there is a bit of a derby feel to this one to make things even more interesting

Irn Bru Cup Second Round
Boreham Wood v Dunfermline Athletic @1pm - one of the biggest oddities of the season so far takes place at Meadow Park, not all that far from Wembley, where an English side will play in the Irn Bru Cup for the first time. Alongside fellow National League side Sutton United, The Wood are taking part and will entertain opposition from the Scottish Championship in a competition for clubs from all over the UK and Ireland. It will be interesting to see how a top English non-league club fares against one from the second tier north of the border

National League
Barnet v Maidenhead United @3pm - if you are going to the England match and want to see a second game earlier in the day then this could well be the one for you. Located a little to the north of Wembley close to Canons Park station on the same Tube line as Wembley Park, you're being offered the chance to watch this fifth-tier game and get parking for only £10 which is a great deal. Just present your ticket for the England game at the box office on arrival - full details

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Wealdstone @3pm - down at Imperial Fields, two former Isthmian League rivals will lock horns in what should be a decent encounter. The Stones came up four years ago and have more than held their own at this level and are currently among the frontrunners. The Hamlet came up via the play-offs in May and despite being known for their attacking brand of football and large support, they've really struggled to get going in the sixth tier. With only two wins from eight, they're sitting just above the relegation zone

FA Cup First Qualifying Round
With the two preliminary rounds out of the way, all remaining clubs in the seventh tier enter the draw as the quality of sides goes up a gear. Ties are still generally regionalised at this stage with the winners of each tie receiving £6,000. Several ties have yet to be decided as midweek replays still need to be concluded but here are three I really like the look of

Hendon v Harlow Town @3pm - I've gone for this tie first as the clubs have agreed between them to cut admission to only £6 for England v Spain ticket holders. Located closer to Wembley than Barnet but not quite as conveniently for the Tube, this match between two seventh tier sides is well worth a watch and both should be commended for agreeing to this deal
Egham Town v Staines Town @3pm - these two towns lie either side of the River Thames on the far west of the London area and only one stop apart on the local train network - this is without doubt a derby. The Sarnies have played at a lower level than Staines for some time so they don't play that often. The FA Cup should be a great leveller
Walthamstow v Beaconsfield Town @3pm - the hosts are one of the lowest ranked London clubs left in the FA Cup. Currently fifth in the Essex Senior League, the club from E17 welcome a team struggling towards the wrong end of a division two levels above them - my mouth's watering at the prospect of a cupset!

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Chertsey Town v Horley Town @3pm - former AFC Wimbledon manager Dave Anderson took over at the Curfews towards the end of last season to steer them away from the relegation zone. He seems to have done some amazing things over the summer as Chertsey have come out and won all five of their opening league games to go top. Get down to Alwyns Lane to see how they get on against eighth placed Horley

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Oxhey Jets v Tring Athletic @3pm - two of the top four in the SSML meet for a game that could send either of them to the top of the table. This is also another reasonable option for fans heading to the England game as the ground is close to Carpenders Park station which is only a 16-minute ride into Wembley Central on London Overground - I'm not aware of any deals though
Wembley v Edgware Town @3pm - why not do the Wembley double and see the town's very own club in action? Playing a bus ride away at Vale Farm, they are struggling and can do with all the support they can get for this derby against near neighbours Edgware

Combined Counties League Division 1
Bedfont & Feltham v Ash United @3pm - the hosts have made an unbeaten start to the season and are top by just one point. Despite their slender lead, they are by far and away the division's highest goalscorers and are netting an average of almost five goals a game! Fourth placed Ash should present them with a tougher challenge than most of their opponents so far

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Welling Town v Holmesdale @3pm - arguably the game of the day in the 10th tier is this match at Bayliss Avenue where the top two battle for supremacy. Welling have only just moved up to this level but are taking it by storm and are unbeaten after six games. Holmesdale have only slipped up once and will be looking to wrest top spot away from the Boots

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Broadfields United v Enfield Borough @3pm - there's also another strong contender for game of the day at this level over at Preston Park (in Harefield) where fifth placed Broadfields take on the leaders. Since forming in 2016, the Panthers have developed a habit of flying out of the blocks - sometimes they sustain it, sometimes they don't. This season they've won five of their first six to go top again but Broadfields, also a team to watch, have two games in hand which if won would put them in pole position


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Sunday 9 September

FA Women's Super League
Hot on the heels of England qualifying for next year's Women's World Cup, the Super League returns with two absolutely mammoth games to get things going. At 1230pm, up at Boreham Wood's ground, last season's beaten FA Cup finalists Arsenal host Liverpool. Then at 2pm down at Kingsmeadow, last season's doublewinners Chelsea entertain their biggest rivals Manchester City in a game which could go a long way to deciding the title even at this early stage in the season

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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.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

TLFG: 28 August - 2 September 2018

Well that's it, the summer's over or at least it will be for me come Saturday when September begins.

At one stage it looked as if it was never going to end with high temperatures leaving scorched pitches all over London - many sides were forced to switch pre-season games to neutral venues with artificial surfaces.

But now the temperatures are in decline and the nights are drawing in - September, how very depressing.

Well it would be if we didn't have a host of great football matches to look forward to.

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This week provides us with a full programme of Premier League, EFL, National League, Bostik League, Evo-Stik League games and the opening round of the FA Vase.

That's not to mention some eye-catching U23 games and a couple of women's matches as well.

My week kept me away from football and sadly I couldn't attend my Non-League Day meeting at Prostate Cancer UK (some exciting news came out of it though, so watch this space) and I couldn't get to the Kick It Out event I was meant to go to either.

If I haven't mentioned it before, my wife is set to give birth at the end of October and she's found the last week pretty tough going so most of my engagements have quite rightly fallen by the wayside.

Prostate Cancer UK are the charity partners of Non-League Day - if you have any concerns, get checked out like I did

I guess this is also a heads up that this blog's output could tail off considerably over the coming months so apologies in advance if that is the case. Somehow I managed to keep things going pretty much uninterrupted after my first child arrived in 2013 but with two on the go it could be too much.

Aside from all that, my teams had a pretty decent weekend with QPR's two new loan signings Tomer Hemed and Nakhi Wells both catching the eye in an absolutely priceless 1-0 win over Wigan to move off the bottom of the Championship table.

Harrow Borough, meanwhile, drew 2-2 with high flying Tiverton on Saturday and won 4-2 at local rivals Hendon in the derby on Monday - which means the two clubs have scored a whopping 38 goals over the course of their last seven meetings!

I also received various messages on social media from readers who were trying to maximise their groundhopping opportunities on Monday given the amount of staggered kick-offs.

Some definitely made it to two but did any of you make it to three? Let me know.

I'm set to spend the next few days in St Leonard's near Hastings so am likely to miss out on live football but keep me informed of what you're up to and, as always, enjoy!
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THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in and around the London area over the next eight days with the Premier League and EFL dominating proceedings but there are also a number of FA Vase ties 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
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.

Tuesday 28 August

Carabao Cup Second Round
AFC Wimbledon v West Ham United @745pm -  with the Bank Holiday weekend behind us, we can get stuck into a fine selection of great value EFL cup ties. At this stage of the competition, the surviving Championship, League One and League Two teams are joined in the draw by the Premier League teams not involved in European competition. One of the ties of the round is this London derby at Kingsmeadow. On paper the Dons should start as significant underdogs but the Hammers are struggling already and could be vulnerable. Tickets will be very hard to get without a previous booking history and were close to selling out when I last checked
Fulham v Exeter City @745pm - Exeter did well to see off Ipswich in the first round on penalties and have been rewarded with a trip to Craven Cottage. Adult tickets are only £10 so if you've never been to this unique ground on the banks of the Thames, this is a great opportunity
Queens Park Rangers v Bristol Rovers @745pm - much has been made of the hosts' poor start to the season but the green shoots of recovery are there following a 1-0 win over Wigan on Saturday. QPR also beat Peterborough in the last round who have won all of their League One games so far this season. Rovers are one of the weaker sides in that division so should be beaten but this is QPR so literally anything is possible. Adult tickets are £15
Brentford v Cheltenham Town @745pm - with only one defeat from five in the league, the Bees have made a fine start. Cheltenham are ailing towards the bottom of League Two so not much is expected of them. In this case, standing tickets are only £5 whilst seats are just a tenner

Bostik League South Central
Hanwell Town v Ashford Town (Middlesex) @745pm - with two wins in the league and a victory in the FA Cup, the Geordies have got off to a great start. Fellow west Londoners Ashford have also done pretty well in the league but got dumped out of the cup by Cray Valley on Sunday in one of the upsets of the round

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Balham v Colliers Wood United @730pm - we've got a groundshare derby at the Wibbandune where tenants Balham have a 100% record in the league so far this season. They did, however, come unstuck in the FA Cup on Saturday but should still start as favourites here

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Wednesday 29 August

Carabao Cup Second Round
Millwall v Plymouth Argyle @745pm - there's some more bargain bucket cup fun at the New Den on Wednesday night where it's only £10 to watch the Lions take on the Pilgrims for a place in the last 32

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Erith Town v Cray Valley PM @745pm - the best non-league option would appear to be this south-east London derby. Neither side has really got going this season so a win would be very useful for both

UPDATE (29/08/18): thanks to TLFG reader Liam who made me aware of an FA Cup replay taking place tonight (Wednesday) between Sporting Bengal United and Brentwood Town. The hosts did well to hold their higher-ranked opponents to a 1-1 draw at the weekend and were the better side by all accounts. They go again tonight at the Mile End Stadium at 745pm

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Friday 31 August

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur @7pm - one of the games of the season in U23 football is taking place at the Emirates Stadium. Sadly, because of the intense rivalry between fans, security is tight and tickets are being strictly controlled - if you're a non-member don't even try

Professional Development League
Watford v Crewe Alexandra @3pm - there won't be any such restrictions earlier in the afternoon where two U23 teams with very little rivalry indeed meet at Wingate & Finchley's ground in north London

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Saturday 1 September

Premier League
Chelsea v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - we're only three games into the new season but these two are both impressing. The Blues won at Newcastle on Sunday to extend their 100% record whilst the Cherries have two wins and a draw to also be unbeaten. Since joining the top flight in 2015, Eddie Howe's side have won on two of their three league visits to Stamford Bridge so would appear to be very dangerous opponents
Crystal Palace v Southampton @3pm - after a fine win at Fulham on the opening day the Eagles have gone backwards with two defeats. The Saints, on the other hand, are winless but have found Selhurst Park to be a happy hunting ground in recent years so should fancy their chances
West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers @3pm - if the Hammers lose their midweek cup tie at Wimbledon and extend their 100% losing run, then panic stations could set in. When the fixtures come out, matches against newly promoted sides are usually viewed as winnable ones so if this match against another winless side also goes the wrong way then Manuel Pellegrini, if he hasn't already gone, will be under huge pressure to step down

Championship
Brentford v Nottingham Forest @3pm - only a point separates these sides in midtable so we should get a decent contest. A place in the top six could be on the cards for either if they win
Millwall v Swansea City @530pm - over in Bermondsey, last season's surprise package Millwall host the Swans who suffered relegation from the Premier League in May after seven seasons. Unsurprisingly, the Welsh side have made the better start and will want to repeat of the win they achieved here on their last visit during their promotion season in 2011. The late kick off means you can combine this with a visit to nearby non-league side Fisher who have an FA Vase tie against Corinthian

Premier League 2
Fulham v Southampton @1pm - if the match at Fisher doesn't appeal then you could take in this U23 match at Craven Cottage instead where admission is only £3

National League
Sutton United v FC Halifax Town @3pm - now three games without a win, the U's have slipped down to ninth but could get right back into contention with victory here. However, the visitors are currently top so should be tough to beat
Dagenham & Redbridge v Salford City @3pm - the cash-strapped Daggers continue to ail and stayed firmly rooted to the bottom after losing to Barnet on Monday. On Saturday they welcome big spending Salford who, if you don't already know are owned by Man Utd legends the Nevilles, Giggs, Scholes and Butt. They are not, by any means, having it all their own way though with only three wins from seven leaving them in tenth

National League South
Welling United v Oxford City @3pm - the Wings, in seventh, are currently the top London club in this division and are already seven points off title pace. Oxford are just behind them and both need to win to keep in touch with the leading pack

Bostik League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Dorking Wanderers @3pm - the Towners surrendered top spot to Tonbridge after only managing a draw in their derby at Wingate on Monday. The result means they are still unbeaten and looking good but the visit of Dorking, also in the top seven, should be a good test for all involved
Haringey Borough v Worthing @3pm - just down the road, Haringey play Worthing who like Enfield are also in the top three and attracting the biggest crowds in the division (nearly 1,200 on Monday) so hopefully there'll be a decent turnout for this one

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Harrow Borough v Salisbury @3pm - after picking up a 2-2 draw against then leaders Tiverton on Saturday, Boro then recorded an impressive 4-2 win at local rivals Hendon on Monday to climb to tenth. Only top club Weymouth currently better them in the goals scored department and they'll be hoping to score a load more against another one of the giants of the division on Saturday. Salisbury were a sizeable fifth tier club not that long ago but met with financial ruin. This newly formed phoenix club have enjoyed a swift rise back up the divisions and still enjoy sizeable support

Bostik League North
Barking v Romford @3pm - there's an east London derby to enjoy at Mayesbrook Park on Saturday. The hosts have yet to register a point yet this season but they're only two games into their campaign so hopefully not too much can be read into that. Romford have struggled in recent seasons but have managed to maintain their place in the eighth tier but no longer play inside this blog's catchment area after a summer move to groundshare with East Thurrock United

Bostik League South Central
Hayes & Yeading United v Tooting & Mitcham United @3pm - historically, both these clubs are used to playing at much higher levels than this. Both have suffered relegations in recent years with the Terrors suffering one on the final day of last season. If you haven't been to check out H&YU's new ground yet, this is a great opportunity

FA Vase First Qualifying Round
If you missed out on getting your 'Road to Wembley' underway in the FA Cup or are put off by the fact that getting tickets for the semi-finals or final could be tough, then try this far more realistic route which could be far more rewarding. This cup competition is open to clubs in the ninth to 11th tiers of English football and throws up some great ties over the course of the season. The winners of each tie receive £550 and the losers £175. There are lots of ties in London this weekend, here is my pick of what's on offer.

AFC Croydon Athletic v Worthing United @3pm - the Rams are currently joint top of the SCEFL which suggests in theory that they should have a decent chance of making progress into the later stages  of the competition. This tie, against a team struggling badly at the level below, looks like a certain victory for them
Clapton v Woodford Town @3pm - two of the Essex Senior League's top five do battle at the Old Spotted Dog which is the capital's oldest football ground
Walthamstow v Takeley @3pm - two more ESL teams also do battle at Wadham Lodge but in this instance the visitors are top, meaning they too should do well in this season's competition
Enfield Borough v Halstead Town @3pm - this match pits two of the tenth tier's best clubs against each other - the hosts are currently top of the SSML1 whilst Halstead are joint top of the Thurlow Nunn Div 1 South
St Panteleimon v Holmer Green @3pm - one club we don't often cover are 11th tier Middlesex County League side St Panteleimon. They are a club with their roots in the Greek Orthodox community who groundshare with North Greenford United. If they can beat Hellenic League side Holmer Green who play two levels above them, it will provide one of the shocks of the round

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Sunday 2 September

Premier League
Watford v Tottenham Hotspur @4pm - not many would've expected this to be a top four clash even with only three games played but that's what this is. Both sides have won their opening three games so should approach this derby with some confidence. Spurs, however, are in theory the better side and haven't lost at Vicarage Road since 1987 so are somewhat of a bogey team for the Hornets

Professional Development League
Millwall v Bolton Wanderers @1pm - elsewhere there's a spot of U23 football going on at Millwall's training ground but that will probably mean you won't be able to get in. Check if this is the case or if any of the details have changed by visiting the club's website nearer the time UPDATE (30/08/18): this match is now being played at The Den following the Junior Lions Fun Day and is free entry for everyone (there is a charge for the fun day)

FA Vase First Qualifying Round
Aside from the matches above, there are also two decent looking Vase ties on Sunday with Southall hosting the recently renamed Reading City from the Hellenic League and Erith & Belvedere playing fellow SCEFL club Rusthall - both matches kick-off at 3pm

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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, 20 August 2018

TLFG: 20-27 August 2018

Welcome one and all to the August Bank Holiday Special of TLFG.

This week's guide covers the next eight days so as to include the Bank Holiday which is jam packed with non-league action.

The three days of the weekend will see 90 matches played and that increases to 95 if you include Friday night as well. Yes you read that right - 95 matches over four days!!!

On Saturday it will be possible to do a groundhop 'double' because of an 11am kick-off in the FA Cup whilst on Monday you'll be able to do a triple with all Combined Counties games starting at 1130am and the Essex Senior League match at Barkingside getting underway at 745pm. Which match you choose to sandwich in between at 3pm is up to you but there are loads to choose from.

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So what have you been up to this week?

Did anyone make it to the Saudi Super Cup at Loftus Road on Saturday evening?

Despite the high prices, a close to capacity crowd turned out to watch Al-Hilal beat Al-Ittihad. The atmosphere during their 2-1 win was said to have been great so I'd be interested to hear if you went along and what you made of it.

The biggest game of the weekend saw Chelsea edge to a 3-2 win over Arsenal whilst up at Wembley, Spurs won again in fairly comfortable fashion against Fulham. There was also a good win for Watford at Burnley whilst West Ham came unstuck again at home to Bournemouth.

Kick It Out is celebrating it's 25th anniversary this year
The main story of the week for me was the abysmal 7-1 thrashing suffered by QPR against West Brom at The Hawthorns. The result left them firmly rooted to the bottom of the Championship table with three defeats from three. Strangely, they had managed a fairly comfortable win over League One leaders Peterborough in the Carabao Cup in midweek with a 'weakened' team - maybe a few more of them should get a run out against Bristol City on Tuesday!

I've now got two weeks off but my chances of seeing a live game are fairly remote as I'll be heading off to some remote footballing blackspots and probably won't get to see anything but you never know.

Non-League Day is gathering pace and I have a planning meeting with our charity partner Prostate Cancer UK and sports broadcasting supremo Caroline Barker on Tuesday about a possible launch event. I'll also hopefully make it to the 'Kick It Out Live' event in Stratford on Thursday too as the anti-discrimination charity celebrates its 25th anniversary year.

Have a great eight days and let me know what you get up to. Enjoy!
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THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 120 matches in and around the London area over the next eight days with the Premier League and EFL dominating proceedings but there are also a number of FA Cup Preliminary Round ties and a load of non-league derbies.

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



BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin
Monday fixtures - yellow 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 20 August

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Liverpool @8pm - the week's football gets underway with this big televised clash. These games are often corkers played in front of a packed house with a great atmosphere. Since returning to the top flight in 2013 they've met six times in all competitions at Selhurst Park and 23 goals have been scored. The Reds have won four of these games and will start as favourites again

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Brighton & Hove Albion @7pm - your chances of getting a ticket for the match above are slim so, as a neutral, your next best option is probably this U23 game at the Emirates Stadium. Tickets are only £4 for adults but must be bought in advance (online sales end at 3pm) - do not arrive at the ground without one

Professional Development League
There are four other U23 games dotted around the capital earlier in the day but at the time of writing all were set to be played at the clubs' training grounds. It is often the case that the public are not admitted in these circumstances but check with each team's website on Monday morning for the latest information

Velocity Trophy Preliminary Round
Aveley v Hanwell Town @745pm - the best non-league option is in the opening round of what is effectively the Bostik/Isthmian League Cup. Hanwell have only joined the league this summer so it's quite possible that these two have never played before but I could be totally wrong
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Tuesday 21 August

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Bristol City @745pm - many thought QPR would struggle this season but after Saturday's 7-1 thrashing at West Brom made it three defeats from three games, things look far worse than I imagined. The games are coming thick and fast at the moment and that's possibly a good thing for Rangers who have an immediate chance to put things right. City are also winless from three and haven't won at Loftus Road since 1977

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Walsall @745pm - after three games both of these sides are unbeaten and are sitting pretty in the division's top eight. The clubs have only ever played four times and have a home and an away win each so they couldn't be much more even
Charlton Athletic v Peterborough United @745pm - the Addicks have managed four points from their opening fixtures and face their toughest match yet as leaders and 100% record holders Posh pay them a visit

Friendly
Brentford B v AFC Bournemouth U23 @7pm - the Bees' first XI have made a fine start to the new campaign but it's also well worth watching their second string who frequently line up some very entertaining friendlies. This one is taking place at Griffin Park and it's free to get in

Velocity Trophy First Round
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Hayes & Yeading United @745pm - my non-league pick of the night is this cup match between sides who hail from either side of Heathrow Airport. My gut tells me that because they've been in different leagues for a long time, this could be a first competitive meeting for some time but again I could be wrong

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Wednesday 22 August

Southern Counties East League Premier Division

Croydon v AFC Croydon Athletic @745pm - it wasn't hard to pick the match of the day on Wednesday as it's derby time down at the Croydon Arena


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Friday 24 August

Premier League 2
Chelsea v Derby County @7pm and West Ham United v Arsenal @7pm - after a day of rest we've got one of the busiest Friday night schedules of London football I can remember with these U23 games at Stamford Bridge and the London Stadium topping the bill. Tickets are £5 for adults but must be bought in advance. All sales for Chelsea end at 4pm on the day of the game, for West Ham it is not clear but do not attend either match without a ticket

Bostik League Premier Division
Kingstonian v Dorking Wanderers @745pm - with only one point from three games, the K's will look to pick up a first win at their new home against fellow Surrey opposition

FA Cup Preliminary Round
What is effectively the second round of the FA Cup gets underway on Friday night. There are two ties in the London area with Tooting & Mitcham United hosting Horley Town in a match that they should win. With ground development works ongoing, Basildon based club Bowers & Pitsea have moved their tie against Barking to Aveley's ground so it now falls within this blog's catchment area. Both games kick off at 745pm and should be no more than a tenner to get in

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Saturday 25 August

Premier League
Arsenal v West Ham United @3pm - only two games have been played but there's already unease at these two clubs as they've both lost both and are in the bottom four. The Gunners are going through a big transition phase after offloading Arsene Wenger, their boss of over 20 years, whilst West Ham have brought in a Premier League winning manager to end their struggles and aren't getting instant results. It's a big game for both sets of fans

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Wigan Athletic @3pm - Rangers play their second of three consecutive home fixtures against last season's League One champions. The 2013 FA Cup winners are now back in the second tier after a few seasons of struggle and they've made a positive start with four points from their opening three games

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Sunderland @3pm - the Dons face what will probably be their biggest match of the season on Saturday when the biggest club in the division head to Kingsmeadow. After back-to-back relegations, former Premier League side Sunderland now find themselves in League One but they've got off to an unbeaten start and drew a crowd of almost 30,000 as they beat Scunthorpe on Sunday. Given Wimbledon's tiny ground capacity, tickets for this are long gone
Charlton Athletic v Fleetwood Town @3pm - these two are currently neck-and-neck in midtable with almost identical records so it should be close. One of the most notable things about Fleetwood is that they are managed by the often controversial Joey Barton

National League
Sutton United v AFC Fylde @3pm - in terms of form, this should be the game of the day in the fifth tier with two of the top four going head-to-head. If results go their way, one of them could go top

National League South
Wealdstone v Concord Rangers @3pm - with only one defeat from their opening five games, the Stones have made a good start to the new campaign and have climbed to fifth accordingly. On Saturday they welcome Essex outfit Concord who are currently joint top with Billericay

FA Cup Preliminary Round
After a few games on Friday night, the bulk of the ties take place on Saturday with quite a few seventh tier teams entering at this stage following the big non-league restructure. FA Cup ties are hugely important for non-league clubs as the prize money on offer is significant for teams of their size. The winners of each Preliminary Round tie earn £2,890 each whilst the losers get £960. There are numerous ties in London on Saturday but here are a few which I think are worth a mention.

The most notable event of the round is the doubleheader taking place at Parkside where FC Romania play Grays Athletic at 11am before Aveley take on Potters Bar Town at 3pm. If you wish to see both, you'll have to leave and re-enter the ground between ties and pay full price for both. If you just want to see the first one then you should have about two hours to get to a second game somewhere else which gives you loads of options.

On the other side of town, Balham will be eyeing a cupset when they entertain Thamesmead Town. The south London club are currently top of the Combined Counties League having won all their games whilst their opponents are toiling towards the foot of the level above them.

Probably the biggest club on show at this stage are Bostik Premier club Lewes who travel to Molesey. The Rooks were playing in the eighth tier last season so have to come in a round earlier than normal and will be expected to beat the Moles. 

Spartan South Midlands League Division One
Enfield Borough v Risborough Rangers @3pm - the Panthers got off to scorching start last season before fading and finishing tenth. This season they've moved to groundshare with Wingate & Finchley and have started well again, topping the division after five games. Risborough are usually among the challengers and are fourth

Southern Counties East League Division One
FC Elmstead v Welling Town @3pm - the Cocks have also embarked on a new groundshare this season, swapping Holmesdale for Sutton Athletic over in Swanley. Currently in sixth, they've made a decent enough start but next welcome 'The Boots' who are a new to this level and taking it by storm winning all four of their games so far

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Sunday 26 August

Premier League
Watford v Crystal Palace @130pm - a derby gets the action underway at lunchtime on Sunday. At the time of writing, both sides have won all their matches this season so are looking good. However, they've only played three games between them and all have been against sides they would fancy themselves to beat. This is a tough one to call but should provide an entertaining enough spectacle
Fulham v Burnley @4pm - following on neatly behind them we have this game in SW6 where pretty much the opposite is the case with the sides only accruing one point between them from their four games. This is the Cottagers' first season back in the top flight following promotion and they'll be targeting this as a must-win game. It's also a big season for the Clarets who stunned everyone last year by qualifying for the Europa League - they'll be desperate to try and sustain those levels of performance again but it's going to be tough.
Please note, although tickets are on general sale for both, don't think you'll be able to attend both as the grounds are about 15 miles (23km) apart and the travel time between them is substantial - you might catch the second half of the Fulham game if you're lucky

FA Cup Preliminary Round
Cray Valley PM v Ashford Town (Middlesex) @3pm - the weekend's FA Cup action concludes with some inter-league action in south-east London. The visitors play one level above their hosts so should start as favourites

FA Continental Tyres Cup
The women's season continues with some more ties in this competition. Chelsea, the top women's side in the country, travel to The Hive to play London Bees whilst there's a derby at VCD Athletic's ground between Charlton and Millwall - both games kick-off at 2pm

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Monday 27 August
The August Bank Holiday sees non-league football take centre stage with a huge selection of games, many of them derbies, played throughout the day - it's very easy to see three if you're a groundhopping nut

National League
Barnet v Dagenham & Redbridge @3pm - the biggest derby in this division takes place at The Hive. The Bees got relegated from the EFL last season and have not responded at all well to life back in the fifth tier taking just two points from their first five matches. The Daggers, who are struggling financially, are in an even worse position with just a point to their name so this is looking like a relegation six-pointer already

Bostik League Premier Division 
Kingstonian v Corinthian Casuals @3pm - these sides have both played in the same borough for years but have rarely been at the same level so games have been few and far between. This season is a totally different story as not only are they now in the same division but they're also groundsharing at Casuals' ground in Tolworth
Wingate & Finchley v Enfield Town @3pm - having seen old rivals Harrow Borough and Hendon shunted off to the Evo-Stik League, Wingate's only derbies are now against Enfield and newly promoted Haringey. The Summers Lane club have overachieved greatly in recent seasons producing fine sides that have challenged for the play-offs despite having some of the smallest crowds in the division. Enfield are usually among the frontrunners and, after an underwhelming 2017-18, are back in the top five spearheading the challenge from London clubs

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Hendon v Harrow Borough @3pm - having both already experienced lengthy trips to the West Country in their opening games to clubs neither of them were used to playing, it will come as rather a relief to come up against each other in this derby. The Greens, beaten Bostik League play-off finalists, have made an unbeaten start to go fourth whilst Harrow, despite winning only once, are scoring for fun and are joint top of the goal charts alongside leaders Tiverton and third placed Merthyr. If it's entertainment you want, this is the derby for you - the last six matches between these two have produced a staggering 32 goals

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Grays Athletic @3pm - simply put, this is an Essex derby between clubs who groundshare and who are both currently in the top six

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Abbey Rangers v Guildford City @1130am - one of the great things about Bank Holidays is that the CCL usually give all their games a morning kick-off allowing groundhoppers to fill their boots. This game isn't a derby as such but it does feature two of the top five and gets top billing in this division

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Southend Manor @745pm - if you do attempt a groundhop triple, wherever your day takes you, it should end up here in Ilford as it's the only evening kick-off I'm aware of. Located a short walk from Seven Kings station, it's easy enough to get to and you'll be given a warm welcome by a club who are always looking to get new people through the gate

Combined Counties League Division One
Bedfont & Feltham v British Airways @3pm - it seems rather apt that the newly promoted BA team should spend their first season at this level groundsharing with B&F whose ground lies just 600 metres from the runway at Heathrow Airport. They've found their opening games to be a bit turbulent and they're likely to have another challenging afternoon here as their landlords are top


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

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

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