After making the intention to see at least one non-league game this week I didn't make it to any. I did, however, get to Loftus Road to watch QPR take on the seemingly unstoppable Manchester City. What unfolded was one of the best games I've seen for some time and despite losing 3-2 most Rangers fans left the stadium on a high after watching their side give a really good account of themselves.
For those of you who haven't been to a game in Shepherd's Bush I recommend that you do. Loftus Road is the smallest stadium in the Premier League but when it's full (18,439) the crowd generate an amazing and quite intimidating atmosphere given their really close proximity to the pitch. Getting a ticket for a game against one of the 'Big Four' could be tricky without membership but for more run-of-the-mill games you should be able to get something.
|A packed Loftus Road for QPR v Manchester City|
Back to this week and things are shaping up a little differently to normal because of the international break. With England playing Spain in a friendly at Wembley on Saturday, there's no Premier League or Championship action. So aside from the big game, the spotlight this week falls on some of the capital's less famous clubs many of whom are competing in the First Round proper of this season's FA Cup. If you are a fan of one the big clubs I implore you to go and check out one of these games instead.
Here are this week's match maps:
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
View London midweek match map 7-11 November 2011 in a larger map
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures
View London weekend match map 12-13 November 2011 in a larger map
If the lack of Premier League and Championship football has left you with a gap in your diary, try one of these games instead:
TLFG TOP 10
The biggest game in town this week takes place at Wembley where Fabio Capello's side play host to the reigning world champions in this international friendly. The match is officially a sell out but I'm sure you'll find the odd ticket somewhere if you really want one. The later kick-off time also makes it possible to do a 'double' with the Brentford v Basingstoke FA Cup game (more below) or the Ryman League match between Hendon and Canvey Island (at Wembley FC) which both kick-off at 1pm. In fact, Hendon are actively promoting this by offering ticket holders for the England game reduced admission of just £5.
The first of my recommended FA Cup ties pits the Bees against the non-league side from Hampshire. On paper the hosts should see off their guests fairly comfortably with three divisions separating them. However, they say the cup is a great leveller and Basingstoke come into this match having lost only one match since August to sit among the pacesetters in the Blue Square Bet South. League One Brentford should win but you never know.
A very similar proposition lies in store for anyone making their way to Brisbane Road where representatives of League One and the Blue Square Bet South meet again. Both sides lie in midtable in their respective divisions but the O's come into the game in better form than their opponents so should definitely have the edge. Don't discount Bromley though - they're looking to bring 3,000 fans the 12 miles from Hayes Lane as they try to apply a bit of extra pressure to Russell Slade's team.
The chance to see a former non-league team who have won the FA Cup within living memory doesn't happen that often but that's exactly what you'll be able to do if you decide to spend your afternoon here. The Dons memorably beat the mighty Liverpool 1-0 to win the cup back in 1988. Since then there's been a lot of upheaval which has been well documented and on Saturday they'll play their first game in the competition since regaining their Football League status. League One Scunthorpe provide the opposition and could be there for the taking.
Although a division apart, this match could go either way as both sides have been pretty dreadful so far this season. The Daggers' meagre record of four league wins has left them just above the relegation zone in League Two while City prop up the Blue Square Bet Premier having won only one league game all season. The visitors could nick this as they have virtually nothing to lose and all the pressure will be on the hosts.
Probably most famous for their 1989 FA Cup third round win over the then top flight Coventry City, Sutton appear to have the momentum to do well again this year. Although they needed a replay to get past Leatherhead in the last round, they've been on fire in the Blue Square Bet South and I fancy them to get the better of the Poppies who despite playing in the division above, lie only two points above the relegation zone.
The Motormen are one of the lowest ranked teams remaining in the FA Cup, playing as they do in the Ryman League Division One North (step 4). Their league form has been pretty underwhelming this season but in the cup competitions they've been a different proposition making progress in both this and the FA Trophy. Oxford City are one of the better teams in the Evostik League Southern Premier Division (step 3) so should win on paper but Blue Square Bet Premier side Ebbsfleet came unstuck here in the last round so they won't be able to take anything for granted.
Away from the FA Cup we have this Ryman League Premier Division south-west London derby. With landlords AFC Wimbledon playing on Saturday, the K's see their match moved to Sunday afternoon. Only two places, three points and five miles separate these two sides so it should be a well contested and attended match. If you've got nothing to do on Sunday afternoon, it should be well worth a couple of hours of your time.
At first glance this Middlesex Senior Cup tie doesn't look particularly remarkable but it's actually very significant - it will be Enfield Town's first match at their new ground the Queen Elizabeth Stadium. They've been playing all their home matches at Cheshunt so far this season and come back to Enfield with this move. Head to Donkey Lane on Wednesday and become part of history.
My final recommendation this week takes place in the Evostik League Southern Division One Central (step 4). The Rebels head to West London as league leaders where they will play sixth-placed AFC Hayes. It's a big season for the hosts who following Hayes & Yeading United's temporary move to Woking are now the biggest team in town and will want to have a good season to try and gain some new fans. With plenty to play for and Slough only a little over seven miles from Hayes, expect a decent crowd.