Sunday, 15 January 2017

TLFG: 16-22 January 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (white pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.


Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

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

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




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




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

Monday 16 January

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

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

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Tuesday 17 January

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday 18 January

Premier League International Cup

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

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

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Saturday 21 January

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday 22 January

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 8 January 2017

TLFG: 9-15 January 2017

Greetings one and all and welcome back to TLFG - thanks for reading.

It's been an interesting week with several emails, tweets and messages from 'you lot' seeking advice about all things London football. Hopefully I've been able to assist but although I'll always do my best to help, I'm sadly not a source of Premier League match tickets.

It has been noticeable this season how much harder it has become to get into top flight games via official routes.

With Tottenham closing a significant chunk of their stadium and West Ham moving to a new ground and making it members only for league games - previously two of the most reliable clubs for getting tickets from are now often StubHub or cup matches only.

Crystal Palace, despite their struggles, still only sell to members while Arsenal and Chelsea are pretty much a closed shop unless you're prepared to spend big or go to a Checkatrade Trophy game.

Non-League Finals Day is a great way to spend an afternoon at Wembley

Watford were also asking you to have at least a previous booking history but there seems to be a glimmer of hope there with several games listed on their website as going to general sale. If you've recently managed to get a ticket to a game at Vicarage Road easily and through official channels then let me know.

Outside the Premier League you can pretty much take your pick with only the occasional derby or visit of Newcastle likely to prove hard to get.

Having been working lates this week I haven't been able to get to a game but I did buy some tickets for QPR v Wigan at the end of the month only to see it postponed after the Latics' win in the FA Cup on Saturday. The tickets were only £10 (a members' special offer) but I'll probably have to get them refunded as I'll probably be working when it's rescheduled.

In other news, the FA Trophy and FA Vase are both starting to get pretty serious with the competitions down to their last 32 and 16 respectively.

After Saturday's results, Southall are now the only London club left in the Vase. It would be quite something for the west London club, who don't play all that far from Wembley, to make the final. They have some pedigree in the tournament too, finishing as runners-up in 1986. Interestingly, the runners-up the previous year were Fleetwood Town who are now pushing for a place in the Championship! 

Don't forget that the Vase and Trophy finals make up Non-League Finals Day at Wembley in May and tickets are now on sale. It's a great day out and with tickets at only £25 for adults and £1 for kids, great value too.

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

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

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (white pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.


Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

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

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




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures




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

Monday 9 January

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Norwich City @7pm - Monday is rapidly becoming development squad day with this match at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground the pick of the U23 action on offer

Professional Development League
Crystal Palace v Millwall @1pm - a rung below that we have this south-east London derby at Dulwich Hamlet's ground

Ryman League Division 1 South
Carshalton Athletic v Dorking Wanderers @745pm - the best non-league match of the day takes place at Colston Avenue where sixth placed Carshalton host the current leaders

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Tuesday 10 January

Ryman League Cup Third Round
Dulwich Hamlet v Faversham Town @745pm - the hosts will start as overwhelming favourites against a midtable side from the division below. However, Faversham shouldn't be written off as they made last year's final. It's also only £5 for adults to get in

Ryman League Division 1 North
AFC Hornchurch v Bury Town @745pm - with four wins from their last five, the Urchins have surged into the top four meaning this match against fellow promotion contenders Bury takes on even greater significance

Essex Senior League
Clapton v Haringey & Waltham @745pm - it seems almost unthinkable given where they've been over the last few years but the Tons could go top with a win against struggling Haringey and Waltham

FA Youth Cup Fourth Round
Queens Park Rangers v Tottenham Hotspur @7pm - even though it's not senior football, the biggest crowd of the night could be at Loftus Road where the U18 sides of these two London rivals meet. Tickets are only £3
AFC Wimbledon v Hull City @7pm - in the other match at Kingsmeadow another healthy crowd is expected for this tie. Tickets are £5

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Wednesday 11 January

Ryman League Division 1 South

Walton Casuals v Cray Wanderers @745pm - at eighth and ninth in the table, these two are nipping at the heels of the top five which both could move into with a win

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Southall v Risborough Rangers @745pm - the hosts enjoyed a superb win to move into the last 16 of the FA Vase on Saturday and they could fire themselves firmly into promotion contention with a win against one of the division's top sides

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Thursday 12 January

Southern Combination Cup
Bedfont & Feltham v Staines Town @745pm - the only match of the night takes place next to Heathrow where these two local sides meet. On paper Staines, who play three levels above B&F, should win but they probably won't play a full-strength team

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Saturday 14 January

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion @1230pm - Spurs are one of the form teams of the division at the moment but the Baggies have also impressed this year and should ensure the north Londoners don't have it all their own way
West Ham United v Crystal Palace @3pm - arguably the biggest match of the day is this derby between one of Sam Allardyce's old clubs and his current one. Palace are in more immediate need of the points but the Hammers are by no means out of the woods just yet
Watford v Middlesbrough @3pm - the Hornets have suddenly gone five games without a win and the heady heights of the top eight which they once occupied now look a long way off. Boro have been down among the scrappers all season and are in marginally better form

Championship
Fulham v Barnsley @3pm - the Cottagers are the best London has to offer in the second tier and keep getting frustratingly close to the top positions only to draw or lose the odd crucial game and stay among the chasing pack. The Tykes, who have struggled when they've played at this level in recent years, are actually above them in eighth so should provide stiff opposition

League One
Charlton Athletic v Millwall @3pm - although only a third tier game, this south-east London derby should generate quite an atmosphere. The last match between them took place just before Christmas and the Lions won 3-1. Sadly, for security reasons, you'll need to be a member to buy tickets or know someone who is
AFC Wimbledon v Oxford United @3pm - if you really crave League One football but can't get into the match above then there are still some tickets on general sale for this one. All four of the teams are neck and neck in the table just off the play-off places

League Two
Barnet v Doncaster Rovers @3pm - the Bees enjoyed a fine derby victory over Leyton Orient on Saturday to move into the play-off places. Next up they have to play the leaders

FA Trophy Second Round - this national competition for sides in the fifth to eighth tiers of English football is now down to its last 32 teams. The winners of each tie get a cheque for £6,000 and move a step closer to Non-League Finals Day at Wembley in May

Bromley v Welling United @3pm - the tie of the round from a London perspective is this derby at Hayes Lane. Sadly the two sides aren't in the same division any more but after a shocking start, Welling have won four of their last five league games in the National League South so will hopefully enter the fray against their higher-ranked rivals with a bit of confidence
Dartford v Chelmsford City @3pm - over at Princes Park there's another very interesting tie between two of the National League South's top five. City are amongst the highest scorers in the division while the Darts seem to specialise in defence
Boreham Wood v Alfreton Town @3pm - after Dagenham & Redbridge, the Wood are the highest ranked non-league club in the capital. This is quite an achievement given their relatively modest supporter base. Alfreton, from Derbyshire, were a National League side too but suffered relegation a couple of seasons ago and will start as underdogs

Ryman League Premier Division
Harrow Borough v Canvey Island @3pm - with it being FA Trophy week, a lot of RLPD games have been postponed meaning this is probably the best of what's left. Both sides are fighting the drop and although Canvey have been pretty poor this season, they did manage to beat high-flying Dulwich on Saturday

Ryman League Division 1 North
Phoenix Sports v Thurrock @3pm - the hosts made the early running this season but a bad run in October and November saw them drop away. However, with five wins from eight they are now back in the top eight and looking in better shape for the visit of title challengers Thurrock

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Sun Sports v London Colney @3pm - despite a sound drubbing by Bromsgrove in the FA Vase, Sun Sports should still hold their heads high after a fine run in the FA Vase. Things aren't going to get any easier on Saturday when the leaders pay a visit

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

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

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

Monday, 2 January 2017

TLFG: 3-8 January 2017

Hello there and welcome to the first TLFG of 2017.

How was the festive period for you? Did you get to gorge on games? It was easily possible to see four,five or even more games over the last couple of weeks - did you manage it? What were your highlights?

Personally, I made it to the north-west London derby between Hendon and Harrow Borough at the Greens' new Silver Jubilee Park ground on Boxing Day.

Although still lacking a club shop and tea bar, the ground is compact, well kept and has a 3G surface which guaranteed the game would go ahead.

Bathed in winter sunshine and overlooked by a hill topped with an eye-catching £20m Hindu temple, the game got off to a frantic start.

Joshua Webb scores from the penalty spot for Harrow to make it 4-4

Last year's reciprocal fixture at Earlsmead saw the sides fight out a thrilling 5-5 draw and when this game saw its first goal after only a few seconds a repeat looked very possible.

It looked a near certainty when half-time was reached with another six goals on the scoreboard and the hosts with a 4-3 lead.

Boro came out undeterred and dominated the second period, scoring only another two to win 5-4.

Not only was the scoreline remarkable but it also saw Harrow record their first Boxing Day victory since 1989, while I'm told Hendon are still to win a league game at their new home during a season of struggle.

Elsewhere in London football news, Chelsea have continued to dominate proceedings in the Premier League while Olivier Giroud made all the headlines for Arsenal against Crystal Palace with what I can only describe as his fluke/wonder goal which has probably been seen millions of times since it went in on Sunday afternoon.

Apart from the two important midweek Premier League games at Crystal Palace and Tottenham, the rest of the week should be dominated by the third round of the FA Cup.

All the Premier League and Championship sides enter the draw at this stage so things start to get serious.

There are one or two cracking ties and several more average ones but tickets are still available for most of them, with prices generally far lower than normal so give it a try.

I'd also like to give an extra mention to non-league side Sun Sports who have made it to the last 32 of the FA Vase for the first time. On Saturday they host Bromsgrove Sporting who are one of the largest clubs left in the competition. It's arguably the biggest match in the Watford club's history so think about giving this some of your time if you're undecided about where to go. 

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

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

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (white pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.


Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

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

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




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




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

Tuesday 3 January

Premier League 
Crystal Palace v Swansea City @745pm - a huge game in the battle to avoid relegation. The last meeting, a little over a month ago, produced a thrilling 5-4 win for the Swans

Ryman League Division 1 North
Thurrock v AFC Hornchurch @745pm - an Essex derby featuring sides who have realistic title and play-off ambitions respectively

Essex Senior League
Clapton v Basildon United @745pm - the Tons are having their best season for several years and have climbed to the heady heights of third. Sadly the Ultras are still in dispute with the club over an increase in admission prices and are boycotting games which means attendances have fallen from around 350 to no more than 50.

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Wednesday 4 January

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea @745pm - one of the biggest London derbies going as north plays west. It also features two sides in great form, however, it should be noted that Tottenham have only won one of their last 15 games against the Blues

Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy
Wadham Lodge v Sawbridgeworth Town @745pm - the only non-league alternative is this cup match a short distance to the east

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Friday 6 January

FA Cup Third Round

West Ham United v Manchester City @755pm - the third round, when all the Premier League and Championship teams enter the draw, gets underway with this great looking tie. At the time of writing, tickets still seem to be available on general sale

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Saturday 7 January

FA Cup Third Round
Watford v Burton Albion @3pm - the FA Cup provides groundhoppers and visitors a great chance to get hold of tickets often at discounted prices. This game is no exception with adult tickets priced at just £10
Millwall v Bournemouth @3pm - there's another chance to see a top-flight team at The Den where tickets are £25
Queens Park Rangers v Blackburn Rovers @3pm - back-to-back league wins over Wolves and Ipswich have suddenly raised spirits at Loftus Road and struggling Rovers should be beatable too. Tickets £15
Brentford v Eastleigh @3pm - the Bees welcome one of the few non-league teams remaining in the competition so will start as overwhelming favourites. Tickets from £10
Sutton United v AFC Wimbledon @3pm - despite featuring sides from the fifth and third tiers, this is arguably the game of the day in the capital as two old rivals meet in the FA Cup. The match is generating huge interest in south London. The last few tickets go on general sale at 10am on 3 January

League Two
Leyton Orient v Barnet @3pm - it's derby day at the Matchroom Stadium where two teams in need of points at either end of the table do battle

National League
Bromley v Forest Green Rovers @3pm - the Ravens welcome title contenders FGR to Hayes Lane on Saturday but the former leaders' form has dropped off drastically of late and they are now winless in six

National League South
Dartford v East Thurrock United @3pm - these clubs look at each other, metaphorically, across the Thames with only a short journey over the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge separating them. ETU are new to the division and are holding their own remarkably well considering their relatively small supporter base
Wealdstone v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - a bigger crowd is expected at Grosvenor Vale where the Stones welcome the best supported side in the division

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v AFC Sudbury @3pm - if you haven't been to check out the Towners so far this season, now could be a good time. With only one defeat in 12, they've hauled themselves firmly into play-off contention once again

Ryman League Division 1 South
Corinthian Casuals v Lewes @3pm - the hosts suffered disappointment on Monday against Tooting but stayed in the play-off places. On Saturday they welcome the Rooks who are far too big a club to be playing at this level. Only four points separate the sides so it should be close

FA Vase Fourth Round
Sun Sports v Bromsgrove Sporting @3pm - things are getting serious in this competition where we're now down to our last 32 teams. This match is quite possibly the biggest in Sun Sports' history. Not only is it quite an achievement to have made it this far but in Sporting they face the reincarnation of Bromsgrove Rovers who were one of the best sides in non-league football in the '90s and competed in the Southern League until poor finances finished them off in 2010. Consequently, according to Wikipedia, Sporting are now the best supported side in Step 6 so should bring a sizeable following

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Hanworth Villa v Westfield @3pm - with leaders Hartley Wintney romping to the title, it's all about the battle to be runners-up with these two currently second and third

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Wembley v Hertford Town @3pm - despite numerous games in hand, a tilt at the title is probably beyond sixth-placed Wembley but they could very conceivably finish second especially if they can beat the team who currently occupy that spot

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Kent Football United v Rusthall @2pm - third plays first in this important early kick-off in the SCEFL
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Sunday 8 January

FA Cup Third Round
Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa @4pm - until this season, this would've been one of the standout ties of the round but Villa got relegated in May and have found the waters of the Championship a little choppy. Nonetheless, this is still a sell out so there should be a good atmosphere
Chelsea v Peterborough United @3pm - on paper the Premier League leaders should beat their League One opponents with ease but they've come unstuck in similar fixtures before with Bradford notching a famous victory at Stamford Bridge in 2015. This match is officially sold out too


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

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

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

Monday, 19 December 2016

TLFG: 19 December 2016 - 2 January 2017

Well we've made it to the end of 2016 and what a year it's been for Britain and the world.

I won't say any more than that but I'm still grateful to be here and I hope I'll have enough to stumble over the line into 2017.

The football world has been rocked by scandals again with the still unfolding abuse story overshadowing things as the new year beckons.

My personal highlights were Harrow Borough making the FA Cup First Round, organising another successful Non-League Day, see friends get their football books published and making a couple of trips overseas to watch some European football.

The first half of 2017 will see my two favourite clubs have to fight out a relegation battle as QPR and the aforementioned Harrow are in trouble.

I'm also looking forward to the second Non-League Finals Day at Wembley in May and I'm debating whether to go to the Women's European Championships in the Netherlands in July.

I'd be interested to hear about your highs and lows and hopes for the year ahead.

This week's blog is the now customary festive special edition which will cover you for the next two weeks. There are loads and loads of games, many of them derbies - although, as you'll see below, the Premier League and EFL are a bit lacking in terms of real blockbusters which is disappointing.

There are games spread right across the period with kick-offs varying too, allowing groundhoppers to take in at least two matches on some days.

It's just gone 0300 GMT so I think it's time to hit the hay and wrap things up for another year. I hope you've enjoyed the blog and found it useful. Have a great festive period and see you back here in early January.

TRAVEL ADVISORY
Please be aware that public transport will be significantly affected over the Christmas period, especially on Boxing Day (26 December).

There will be virtually no national rail services, including London Overground, and a significant chunk of the District Line will be shut too.

This means that getting to matches at Brentford, Chelsea, Millwall and Watford will be less straightforward than normal but good London Underground alternatives, with a bit of walking, are available instead.

For full details of festive services, including those on New Year's Eve, see the TFL website.

THE WEEKS AHEAD
There are 130+ matches in the London area over two weeks with action in the Premier League, EFL, National League and several minor league and county cup competitions.

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

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (white pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.


Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

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

Match map 19-25 December
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




Match map 26-30 December
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




Match map 31 December - 2 January
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures




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

Monday 19 December

Ryman League Premier Division
Kingstonian v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - a fine game to start the week as two sides with play-off ambitions from south of the river meet at Kingsmeadow

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Tuesday 20 December

National League
Boreham Wood v Braintree Town @745pm ninth in this division, The Wood are London's second highest ranked non-league club and should fancy themselves against relegation threatened opposition from Essex

Ryman League Premier Division
Harrow Borough v Tonbridge Angels @745pm - both sides are in slightly artificial positions at either end of the table with several games in hand on most of the teams above them. Tonbridge would be top of the league if they won theirs so will start as favourites

Ryman League Division 1 North
Thurrock v VCD Athletic @745pm - after several disappointments in recent years, Thurrock look all set to mount another promotion bid and are currently second, a position that should make them confident of victory here

London Senior Cup First Round
Corinthian Casuals v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - an attractive local derby between an amateur club and one from League One. The Dons are highly unlikely to field a full strength team but there could be one or two notables in their line-up

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Oxhey Jets v Sun Sports @745pm - simply put, this is the Watford non-league derby

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Wednesday 21 December

League One

Millwall v Charlton Athletic - in the quiet time before Christmas, this is definitely the match of the week. Re-arranged after an initial postponement, these two near neighbours from south-east London should put on a decent display

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Thursday 22 December

Middlesex Charity Cup Second Round
Cockfosters v Hayes & Yeading United @745pm - the hosts are having a fine season in the ninth tier SSML Premier while HYU are having a bit of a stinker two divisions above - real cupset potential here

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Friday 23 December

Ryman League Division 1 North
AFC Hornchurch v Aveley @745pm - the pre-Xmas period ends with this rather randomly scheduled Essex derby towards the far end of the District Line. Both clubs have very realistic promotion ambitions so it could be a cracker

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Monday 26 December - Boxing Day

Premier League
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - the festive fixtures get underway on Boxing Day with a bumper programme of games. However, the Premier League and EFL offering in the capital is a little underwhelming with this match, albeit between two top eight sides, unlikely to get many pulses racing
Chelsea v Bournemouth @3pm - again, a bit of 'meh' game on paper, with the Blues overwhelming favourites to win. However, if the visitors have a real go it could be exciting
Watford v Crystal Palace @1230pm - the only derby of the day in the top flight is this one but there's no particular rivalry between them so don't expect fireworks

Championship
Brentford v Cardiff City @1pm - this is the best you'll find in the second tier on Boxing Day but neither side are having a good season

League One
Millwall v Swindon Town @3pm - another uninspiring midtable versus strugglers contest

League Two
Leyton Orient v Crawley Town @1pm - the O's badly need a win in their fight to avoid relegation and midtable Crawley could well be beaten (I'm clutching at straws to try and build this up too)

National League
Bromley v Sutton United @3pm - when you drop into the non-league ranks, things start to get far more interesting with this derby between clubs from south London likely to draw a decent crowd

National League South
Dartford v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - although a division below, this is arguably an even bigger derby, both sides are also in the top five
Wealdstone v Maidenhead United @3pm - the Stones welcome the runaway league leaders for what is likely to prove to be a very tough encounter

Ryman League Premier Division
Hendon v Harrow Borough @3pm - it's also north-west London derby time where these two old rivals meet for the first time at Hendon's new ground, it's also a relegation 'six-pointer'

Ryman League Division 1 South
Carshalton Athletic v Tooting & Mitcham United @3pm - a south London derby between two promotion contenders

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Tuesday 27 December

Ryman League Premier Division
Grays Athletic v Dulwich Hamlet @3pm - a lot of non-league clubs have decided to give their players an extended Xmas and play today which is also a Bank Holiday. This seventh tier match is the highest level game on offer and Dulwich should win

Southern League Division 1 Central
Hanwell Town v Uxbridge @1pm - at the time of writing, the hosts are the best London has to offer in this division. If they can string two or three wins together then they could find themselves in the top five. Although not disastrous, Uxbridge's season looks over already

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Bedfont & Feltham v CB Hounslow United @1130am - the CCL always do groundhoppers proud on Bank Holidays by giving the bulk of their games late morning kick-offs meaning you can easily catch another game or two elsewhere. This match, next to Heathrow airport's runway, is a groundshare derby
Walton & Hersham v Westfield @1130am - the game of the day in this division pits fourth against second and with the visitors hailing from Woking there's a touch of a derby about this one too

Combined Counties League Division 1
AC London v Banstead Athletic @1130am - we've got another groundshare derby between one side who were top and one who currently are top

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Cockfosters v Hadley @3pm - up in third, Cockfosters are the best London have to offer in the SSML and should therefore feel confident going into this local derby
Edgware Town v Wembley @3pm - elsewhere in the division we have another local derby which should be worth a watch

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Hillingdon Borough v Harefield United @3pm - another derby between two Middlesex clubs who effectively play on the same road. If you've got a car, this could be combined with the 1pm kick-off between Broadfields and Kensington at Harefield's ground

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Wednesday 28 December

Ryman League Division 1 North
Romford v Thurrock @745pm - the pick of the day's action is this groundshare derby where Thurrock will look to win to close the gap on leaders Maldon & Tiptree

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Friday 30 December

League One
Millwall v Gillingham @745pm - for the last couple of years Gillingham have been Millwall's geographically closest opponents so there is definitely a derby feel to games between the two

Ryman League Division 1 North
Aveley v Haringey Borough @745pm - if you fancy a non-league alternative then this game between two clubs who could make the play-offs might tickle your fancy

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Saturday 31 December

Premier League
Chelsea v Stoke City @3pm - the year comes to an end with another fairly average looking fixture at Stamford Bridge, one the Blues should win to maintain or extend their lead at the top

Championship
Brentford v Norwich City @530pm - the Bees provide the 'best of the rest' entertainment again as they take on the out-of-form Canaries who have won only two of their last 10 games

League Two
Leyton Orient v Cambridge United @1pm - with the visitors chasing promotion, it looks like another tough afternoon for the O's. The early kick-off makes this another good one for groundhoppers

National League
Boreham Wood v Eastleigh @1pm - having seen off Halifax to make the third round of the FA Cup, Eastleigh arrive with a bit of national recognition

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Wingate & Finchley @1pm - the biggest crowd of the day in this division is likely to be at Champion Hill for this south versus north London clash

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Sunday 1 January

Premier League
Arsenal v Crystal Palace @4pm - at last, a half-decent derby to get excited about with both teams needing the points at either end of the table
Watford v Tottenham Hotspur @130pm - another derby which should be a bit more even than the one above

National League
Sutton United v Bromley @3pm - it seems to be the custom in the National League to play one of your nearest rivals on Boxing Day and then play the reverse fixture the following week

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Monday 2 January

Premier League
West Ham United v Manchester United @515pm - this will be the third time in a little over a month that the Hammers will have played Jose Mourinho's side. They got thrashed in the EFL Cup but managed to draw the arguably more important league game 1-1

Championship
Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - tickets will be very hard to get for the match above but this game provides a very good alternative. Being located just outside the capital, all matches against London clubs are effectively derbies for Brighton so they should come close to selling out their allocation. They could also be top of the table by kick-off

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Millwall @1pm - there's another cracking London derby to look forward to here but you must be a member or on the club's 'fan register' to buy a ticket

League Two
Barnet v Plymouth Argyle @3pm - the Bees play host to the team who are currently top

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Braintree Town @745pm - an Essex derby between sides at opposite ends of the table

Ryman League Premier Division
Metropolitan Police v Kingstonian @3pm - a local derby at the well appointed Imber Court but don't expect much rivalry as the hosts don't have many fans

Ryman League Division 1 North
Phoenix Sports v VCD Athletic @1pm - these two are very local rivals so much so that when I went to watch Phoenix a few years ago, you could hear the crowd watching the match at VCD's ground

Ryman League Division 1 South
Tooting & Mitcham United v Corinthian Casuals @3pm - a derby between two sides who are also fighting for promotion
Walton Casuals v Whyteleafe @3pm - yet another groundshare derby

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Erith Town v Erith & Belvedere @3pm - the Erith derby, it's just a shame neither of them play there and have to groundshare with other clubs

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Sutton Athletic v Kent Football United @3pm - third versus fourth at the time of writing

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Southall v Hillingdon Borough @3pm - two former FA Vase finalists meet at Hanwell Town's ground as the festive season comes to a close


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

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

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

Sunday, 11 December 2016

TLFG: 12-18 December 2016

I don't think I've got a huge amount to write about this week as I've been working every night and haven't had a chance to see any live football.

My teams, QPR and Harrow Borough, both suffered further defeats to leave them going into Christmas in a relegation battle. With Boro that's the norm but for Rangers, their squad and resources should see them nowhere near the bottom three. With back-to-back home games against vastly improved Derby and Aston Villa sides over the next few days, it could get even worse.

More generally, from a London perspective, the Premier League is showing signs of becoming a two-horse race between Arsenal and Chelsea as they both won again while Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs all dropped points.

In all the divisions of the EFL we have several teams pushing for a play-off place but title challenges look unlikely for most of them.

In non-league, keep on eye on the eighth tier Ryman League Division 1 South where things are really hotting up. Six of the top eight clubs are from the London area and several meet each other this week.

It's late on Sunday night so I'll keep this brief and wrap things up now. Enjoy your week and let me know what you've been up to.

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

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

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (white pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.


Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

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

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




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




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

Monday 12 December

Premier League 2 
West Ham United v Swansea City @7pm - it's fourth versus the leaders in this PL2 Division 2 game at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground
Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion @7pm - the Cottagers are just ahead of West Ham and will need to win to make sure of their place in the top three of this U23 competition

Ryman League Division 1 South
Carshalton Athletic v Tooting & Mitcham United @745pm - the promotion race in this division is really hotting up with these two south London rivals very much in contention

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Tuesday 13 December

Championship
Fulham v Rotherham United @745pm - the hosts are London's main contenders in this division at the moment with a win here against the division's bottom club possibly putting them in the top six

FA Trophy First Round Replay
Wingate & Finchley v Wealdstone @745pm - Ryman League Wingate did well to salvage a late 2-2 draw against the Stones on Saturday. Will they make the most of home advantage and cause a cupset in the replay?

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Lowestoft Town @745pm - after a slow start, these two regular promotion contenders are right back in it. Now both in the top seven, a win would really bolster their credentials

London Senior Cup First Round
Clapton v Greenwich Borough @745pm - the Tons are up in the top four of the Essex Senior League while Greenwich are in the top four at the level above. The Old Spotted Dog could be a leveller, especially if the Clapton Ultras return to the stands after their boycott but it's looking doubtful at the moment


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Wednesday 14 December

Premier League

Crystal Palace v Manchester United @8pm - there's a big night of top-flight action on Wednesday with this probably the pick of the games as teams needing points at either end of the table do battle. Stat attack - this game sees the highest scorers in the bottom six (Palace with 27) take on the lowest scorers in the top six (Man Utd with 20)
Tottenham Hotspur v Hull City @8pm - Spurs have suffered only two defeats in their last 10 league games and put five past Swansea last week. A struggling Hull side should also be dispatched with relative ease
West Ham United v Burnley @745pm - without a game on Saturday, the Hammers dropped back into the bottom three but they pulled clear again after a fine 2-2 draw at Liverpool on Sunday. Burnley are having a better season than many predicted and could well win here if the Hammers aren't 'on it' from the start

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Derby County @745pm - after suffering a humiliating 1-0 defeat at bottom club Rotherham on Saturday, Ian Holloway's return to the club as manager already appears to be going badly wrong. With three defeats from four games against sides who were all in very poor form, things are looking worrying. The Rams also had a shocking start to the season but with Steve McClaren back in charge they've won six in a row and are force again

Ryman League Division 1 South
Walton Casuals v Godalming Town @745pm - the pick of the night's non-league action gives us the opportunity to run the rule over the Stags who are mounting a bit of a promotion challenge. Despite being without a ground of their own this season, they're right up in seventh and enjoyed a thrilling 4-3 win over Tooting & Mitcham on Saturday, a result which knocked the Terrors off top spot. The visitors are having a horror season and should provide another three points 

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Friday 16 December

FA Youth Cup Third Round
Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers @7pm - end the working week with a bit of U18 football up at Boreham Wood's ground. If that's not handy, Fulham play Mansfield Town in the same competition at the club's Motspur Park training ground

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Saturday 17 December

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Chelsea @1230pm - the Eagles end a tough week of games with this derby against the Blues who could well be league leaders by the time kick-off comes round. On paper Palace should lose but they have managed a couple of wins over Chelsea in recent years including a 2-1 triumph at Stamford Bridge last season
West Ham United v Hull City @3pm - back-to-back home games against Burnley and Hull could make or break the Hammers' and particularly boss Slaven Bilic's season. Both games must really be won, four points would be acceptable but much less than that could be terminal

Championship
Fulham v Derby County @3pm - depending on how things go in midweek, this could be a really entertaining game. The Cottagers have bagged nine goals in their last two games and should see off Rotherham. Derby, as mentioned above, are on a hot streak built mainly on a solid defence which has seen them concede only two goals in six games

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Port Vale @3pm - the Dons suffered the disappointment of a 1-0 loss at arch rivals MK Dons on Saturday. Given how tight the table is, they dropped down to 10th but a win here against lower midtable opposition could put them right back up there
Charlton Athletic v Peterborough United @3pm - two sides with a good shot at the play-offs meet at The Valley in the day's other third tier game

League Two
Barnet v Stevenage @3pm - the Bees played their first game following the departure of manager Martin Allen on Saturday. Interim boss Rossi Eames, a 31-year-old coach who has never played pro football, took charge and masterminded a 1-0 win over Yeovil to keep the north London club firmly in the hunt for a play-off place. This match, against opponents from Hertfordshire, is effectively a derby too

National League
Boreham Wood v Barrow @3pm - the Wood welcome team of the moment Barrow who are currently on a spectacular 23-game unbeaten run which has taken them to fifth in the league and earned them a place in the third round of the FA Cup. The sides drew 1-1 in Cumbria earlier in the season

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v St Albans City @3pm - the game of the day in the NLS pits fifth against second. I went to the reverse fixture on Non-League Day and it produced an entertaining 4-2 win for Hampton but it's City who have been on the up since

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Tonbridge Angels @3pm - in the division below we have another heavyweight contest to look forward to. Dulwich are fourth and even though Tonbridge are back in eighth they've got between three and five games in hand on most of the clubs above them so should be there or thereabouts by the end of the season

Ryman League Division 1 South
Corinthian Casuals v Greenwich Borough @3pm - there are lots of big games in this division this week with many of the top six in action against each other. At the time of writing this is fifth against third
Carshalton Athletic v Hythe Town @3pm - a little further to the east, we've got fourth versus sixth so take your pick!

Essex Senior League
Clapton v Takeley @3pm - a top four clash at the Old Spotted Dog. As mentioned above, the Clapton Ultras are in dispute with the club over a sudden rise in admission prices so have been boycotting games so the atmosphere might not be as lively as normal
Barkingside v FC Romania @3pm - it's possible a few of them might make the short trip to Ilford to support Barkingside's 'Game for the Homeless' as they throw open the doors to local people who find themselves without accommodation. They'll also be collecting money, food and clothes to benefit such people so don't go empty handed

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Sunday 18 December

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley @4pm - Spurs host the Clarets knowing a win could take them back into the top four, if midweek results go their way

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Aston Villa @12pm - if you've got tickets to the above you could very conceivably combine it with this game and catch two games in a day. QPR are struggling at the moment while Villa are a much improved side under new boss Steve Bruce and are climbing the table steadily

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

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

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

Sunday, 4 December 2016

TLFG: 5-11 December 2016

It's been another pretty decent week for London's top clubs.

Impressive wins for Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur saw them continue to keep their places in the top five of the Premier League while Crystal Palace finally ended their terminal looking losing run with a very fine win over Southampton.

Watford lost their second game in a row but it's West Ham United who have the most to worry about following their 5-1 humbling by the Gunners at the London Stadium which left them just above the relegation zone.

In the Championship, Fulham stuffed an excellent Reading side 5-0 to get back into play-off contention while QPR and Brentford suffered defeats which left them in precarious lower midtable positions.

It was all about the FA Cup for our local League One teams. AFC Wimbledon produced the comeback of the weekend at non-league Curzon Ashton, coming back from 3-0 down with 10 minutes to go to win 4-3. Millwall shared seven goals with Braintree Town, prevailing 5-2 while Charlton were held to a goalless draw by MK Dons. 

However, the story of the round was non-league Sutton United's 2-1 win over Cheltenham Town which propelled them into the third round - a place where they made FA Cup history by beating then top-flight side Coventry City back in 1989. I'd love to see more of the same for the Gander Green Lane club - the draw is tomorrow night at 7pm when all the Premier League and Championship sides join the competition.

QPR line up a free-kick during the first half against Wolves at Loftus Road
My week saw me take in the EFL game between QPR and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Scheduled on Thursday night for TV, I debated long and hard whether I could bring myself to go when the cheapest ticket was £29. 

I love my Rangers but is paying that much to watch two struggling Championship sides on a chilly December night really worth the best part of 30 quid?

Encouraged by my wife to boycott the game, I decided I would but then made the fatal mistake of listening to this week's QPR podcast which had a one-hour interview with new boss Ian Holloway. By the end I had been inspired to bite the bullet and head to Loftus Road for the game. If he has that effect on listeners, it's understandable that he's successfully motivated several teams to promotion over the years.

The game itself wasn't great but we looked more than capable of winning it until James Perch got himself sent off with about an hour of the game remaining.

Wolves took advantage and went 2-0 up with about 25 minutes to go. At that point it looked like a cricket score could be on the cards and it probably would've happened if the absolutely brilliant Alex Smithies hadn't been in goal.

I counted at least seven major saves, some of which were of the highest quality - including at least three one-on-ones. He was undoubtedly man-of-the-match. 

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

QPR did almost pull off a shock draw as Joel Lynch grabbed what appeared to be an 89th-minute consolation goal. However, with the referee adding on seven minutes of injury time, the hosts laid siege to the Wolves goal and created the chance for Lynch again but the defender-cum-striker fluffed his kick and the ball harmlessly rolled away - it ended 2-1.

The honeymoon period seems to be over already for Holloway and things will really look bad if QPR lose at struggling Rotherham next week.

I forgot to mention last week that tickets for this season's Non-League Finals Day at Wembley are now on sale.

For £25 you get to see the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals back-to-back at the national stadium on Sunday 21 May. Last year nearly 50,000 people attended and outsold the England game against Turkey that was taking place in Manchester the same day. It was a great family day out with kids getting in for a quid - the same price applies this time too.

Babysitting and late shifts means it's likely to be a quiet one for me on the football front this week so I hope you get to see a game or two on my behalf.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are almost 100 matches in the London area over the next week as the Champions League and FA Trophy make their return. There is also action in the Premier League, EFL, National League and several minor league and county cup competitions.

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

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (white pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.


Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

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

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




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




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

Monday 5 December

Premier League Cup - a cup for U23 sides from various Premier League and EFL clubs. Similar to the Champions League, it has a group stage featuring 32 teams and then a knockout phase. We're still in the early stages of the group phase at the moment

Charlton Athletic v Fulham @7pm - in the other Group F game, at Greenwich Borough's ground, we have a London derby

Ryman League Division 1 South
Carshalton Athletic v Corinthian Casuals @745pm - elsewhere in south London we have a big game between two sides in the top five of this division. Each side are averaging well over two goals a game so far this season so this is where I would be headed

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Tuesday 6 December

Checkatrade Trophy - this competition pits the first XIs of League One and League Two sides against U23 teams from the Premier League and Championship in an attempt to develop young players. Again it begins with a group stage before going to a knockout phase. Widely derided by fans and some officials of the third and fourth tier teams, crowds have been very poor

AFC Wimbledon v Brighton & Hove Albion U23 @745pm - don't expect a great night out here. The Dons are among the loudest protesters about the format of this competition and have even encouraged their fans to stay away from these games. They also played on Sunday in the FA Cup so will no doubt field a weakened team. It will be cheap to get in but you might be the only person there!

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Staines Town @745pm - you're far more likely to get a decent atmosphere and an entertaining game a little to the east at Champion Hill. Although Dulwich play four divisions below Wimbledon they've drawn a couple of 2,000+ crowds this season and play some decent football. Currently London's top side in the division, they'll look to extend their unbeaten run to eight games against a Staines side who started well but have tailed off in recent weeks

Ryman League Division 1 South
Greenwich Borough v Tooting & Mitcham United @745pm - Monday's game at Carshalton looks good but this match is even bigger as it pits third against first. Greenwich are the big spending, new boys who came up from the SCEFL last season. They've made an impressive start but are still eight points behind the Terrors who have surprised many, including their own fans, with their sustained form this season. With seven league wins on the bounce and 15 goals in their last three games they're looking formidable

Southern League Division 1 Central
Hanwell Town v AFC Dunstable @745pm - the hosts are leading the charge for promotion from a London perspective. Currently in eighth, they'll need to see off the OD's who are just three points ahead

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Wembley v Hoddesdon Town @745pm - humbled by Peterborough Sports in the FA Vase on Saturday, the Lions are still in with a shout of the SSML title. Although back in fifth, they have the games in hand to get themselves firmly back in contention. Hoddesdon aren't far behind in seventh so should provide a tough test
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Wednesday 7 December

Champions League

Tottenham Hotspur v CSKA Moscow @745pm - Spurs' return to Europe's elite club competition has been disappointing with last month's loss in Monaco knocking them out with a game to spare of the group stage. On Wednesday they take on Russian opponents, who are currently bottom, in a fight for a place in the Europa League. The match is at Wembley and tickets are still available

Checkatrade Trophy
Millwall v Wycombe Wanderers @745pm - given that this match is between two sides who should field first XIs rather than U23 sides and the clubs aren't that far apart geographically (Wycombe play just outside London), there could be a half-decent turnout by this competition's very low standards. Adult tickets are also only £5

FA Vase Third Round Replay - this competition is primarily open to sides in the ninth and 10th tiers of English football. Hundreds of clubs from all over the country take part with its final at Wembley in May

Bedfont Sports v Crowborough Athletic @745pm - by getting this far, the Eagles have already smashed their previous best in the competition. Victory will earn them a place in the last 32 but Crowborough are having a fine season in the SCEFL so demand respect

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
AFC Croydon Athletic v Croydon @745pm - it's derby day in south London. As former league leaders, the hosts will start as favourites. The SCEFL title race is wide open with only five points separating the top six

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Thursday 8 December

Southern Combination Cup
Staines Town v Worcester Park @745pm - to my knowledge this is the only game on Thursday. Don't expect a classic - very little information exists on Staines' website at the present time and it's likely they'll play quite a few youngsters and reserves. Only go if you really are a football addict and check the details with Staines before you travel
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Friday 9 December

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v West Essex @745pm - there's a nice bit of Friday night football to look forward to over in the Ilford area. Neither side are really impressing this season but Oakside is one of the easiest grounds to get to in London, located right next to Barkingside Tube station on the Central Line

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Saturday 10 December

Premier League
Arsenal v Stoke City @3pm - the Gunners have the longest unbeaten run of any side in the Premier League at the moment. They played a hapless West Ham side off the park on Saturday and should be too good for an improving Stoke side who have crept up to ninth
Watford v Everton @3pm - the Hornets got themselves into the top eight but three defeats in four have seen them slide back into the bottom half. The Toffees are just ahead of them but are winless in four themselves and can be beaten

Championship
Brentford v Burton Albion @3pm - things looked rosey for Bees fans when they beat arch rivals QPR at the end of October but it's been defeats all the way ever since. Now just three points above the relegation zone, this match against fellow strugglers Burton has become pretty crucial

League One
Millwall v Shrewsbury Town @3pm - the Lions welcome bottom club Shrewsbury to the Den on Saturday meaning they'll have few better chances to break back into the play-off places which lie just one point above them

League Two
Leyton Orient v Accrington Stanley @3pm - already out of the FA Cup, the O's have had a week off to rest up ahead of this relegation 'six-pointer' against another team who have found things tough going. Stanley have gone six league games without a win but picked up a morale-boosting victory at Woking in the FA Cup on Sunday

FA Trophy First Round - at this stage of this national competition for sides in the fifth to eighth tiers, all the clubs in the fifth tier (National League) join the draw. Their presence takes the total number of teams left in the competition to 64. The winners of each tie pocket a cheque for £5,000 and move one step closer to a dream Wembley final in May

Boreham Wood v Maidstone United @3pm - one of the ties of the round in the south-east sees these two National League clubs meet at Meadow Park. Both have enjoyed promotions from the Ryman League in recent years and it's the Wood who are currently faring better. However, Maidstone won the league game between the two back in August so will travel with some confidence
Sutton United v Bath City @3pm - after their FA Cup heroics on Saturday, you can see the U's in FA competition again in a competition they could very conceivably win. Bath are a midtable side from the division below so should be defeated
Dartford v Dover Athletic @3pm - there's a very interesting Kent derby at the well appointed Princes Park where promotion chasing sides from the National League South and National League go head-to-head
Wealdstone v Wingate & Finchley @3pm - this has a bit of derby feel to it and there is some bad blood between the fans after an unsavoury incident a few years ago when the sides were both in the Ryman League. The Stones should win but have been embarrassed by Wingate before

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Needham Market @3pm - the Towners are starting to build up a decent head of steam and have climbed into the top six where they have games in hand on several of those above them. One such side are third placed Needham Market who could go top with victory here

Ryman League Division 1 South
Walton Casuals v Tooting & Mitcham United @3pm - I've already mentioned what hot form the Terrors are in but the Stags are having a pretty good season themselves. Playing at Whyteleafe's ground while there's is being redeveloped, they've climbed to eighth

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Sunday 11 December

Premier League

Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion @12pm - most seasons this would look like a pretty unremarkable fixture that would probably end up being a bit one-sided. It could well play out that way this time too especially with the Blues in such ominously good form at the top of the table. However, a Matt Phillips inspired Baggies side are now up in the top six and could give this a real go

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Erith & Belvedere v Sheppey United @3pm - the much cheaper non-league alternative to the above takes place in Welling where the midtable Deres welcome the leaders

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

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

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