Sunday, 4 December 2011

TLFG: 5-11 December 2011

After last week's football famine, this week I enjoyed a veritbale feast. It began on Tuesday with my third trip of the season to Summers Lane to watch Wingate & Finchley in London Senior Cup action against League Two AFC Wimbledon, the highest ranked team in this season's competition.

The visitors won a tight game 2-1 after extra time but the match was probably more memorable for three 'Fs' - foxes running amok in the penalty area during the second half, floodlight failure during extra time which threatened the tie and freezing conditions which exacerbated the impact the previous 'F'. The match finished shortly before 1030pm with several Wingate fans willing their side not to equalise to avoid an evening lengthening penalty shoot-out!

AFC Wimbledon and Wingate & Finchley prepare for extra time 
The following night was spent in London's East End, in Mile End to be precise. It was here that Bethnal Green United and Sporting Bengal United, co-tenants of the Mile End Stadium, went head-to-head in the Essex Senior League. Sporting Bengal had spent previous seasons in the Kent League but had opted to transfer this season, setting up this mouthwatering derby in the process.

A crowd of 154, five times the normal average, watched another close contest which was only settled by an 88th-minute winner for the 'hosts'. It was tough on Bengal who had played most of the second half with 10 men and had more than held their own.

I had intended to take in a third game on Saturday but my hopes of getting to Loftus Road for QPR v West Brom were dashed when a family member, who shall remain nameless, locked themselves out on the other side of London and I had to let them in. My ticket did not go to waste though, with the young Syrian lad who runs my father-in-law's kebab shop (King Solomans on Uxbridge Road in Shepherd's Bush) going instead.

That's enough about me. Here's the latest ticket guide for what's on general sale at London's Premier League clubs:

ARSENAL
Nothing available

31 December - Aston Villa 3pm, Premier League (on sale 5 Dec)

14 December - Odense BK 805pm, Europa League 
17 December - Bolton Wanderers 3pm, Premier League
21 January - Newcastle United 3pm, Premier League (on sale 8 Dec)

21 December - Sunderland 8pm, Premier League

3 January - West Bromwich Albion 745pm, Premier League
14 January - Wolverhampton Wanderers 3pm, Premier League


As last week, please post below if I've got anything wrong or anything changes. Over the next seven days there's a relative scarcity of fixtures (just 69) with many of our local teams once again taking part in cup competitions.

Here are this week's match maps:

MIDWEEK MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures


WEEKEND MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures


As always here's a few games which I think could be worth your time:

TLFG TOP 10

By the time the Blues get to their last Champions League group game they've usually sewn up qualification quite comfortably but that's not the case on this occasion. Having only won two of their five matches so far, a defeat here will see the Spanish side go through at their expense along with Bayer Leverkusen. Officially this has sold out but if you can get a ticket through an exchange service this could well be worth going to.

The Cottagers haven't really got going so far this season and are without a win in four matches. The Reds by contrast are on a fine run and have gone 11 games without defeat and could go fifth in the Premier League if they win this. Fulham's recent draw at Arsenal, however, should give them confidence of holding their own. According to the club's website, tickets for this match are still available to season-ticket holders and members so join up or make friends with one ASAP if you want to go along.

This is one of those matches that makes you take an intake of breath when you see it's coming up. I'm loathed to negatively single out teams for their supporters but the reputation of both sets here often precedes them. With both teams scrapping for points at either end of the Championship, the atmosphere and commitment is likely to be good. Get yourself down to The Den if you want to see an alternative 'big game'.

A quick look at the League Two table makes this fixture look quite unremarkable but these two sides both have notable histories and are playing each other for the first time ever. Having both formed out of clubs who had relocated or gone bust, they both climbed through various leagues at opposite ends of the country to gain Football League status once again. Stanley are relatively well established at this level, while their hosts are here for the first time. If you like your football history and enjoy a sense of occasion outside the top flight, then this is definitely for you.

Having come unstuck against League One MK Dons in the FA Cup on Saturday, the Bees welcome the other Bees for a Johnstone's Paint Trophy southern area semi-final match on Tuesday. For those who don't know this is a London derby with north hosting west. Brentford made last season's final and are doing well again in League One. They did, however, suffer an embarrassing home defeat to non league Wrexham in the FA Cup. Both clubs can use this fixture as a chance to immediately bounce back from their weekend disappointments. Also of note - admission to large areas of the ground has been reduced to £10 for this match giving even more reason to consider this one.

This weekend sees the staging of the first round proper of the FA Trophy and there are a handful of decent ties taking place in the London area, the first being this one. The hosts sit slap bang in the middle of the Blue Square Bet South while The U's are among the frontrunners in the division above and are therefore one of the best teams left in the competition. On police advice this match kicks off at 1pm so if you've got plans later in the afternoon this could be one for you.

Lying towards the eastern end of the District Line, the Urchins are one of the teams on the fringe of our catchment area but they've been anything but a fringe side this season. They've been in the top three of the Ryman League for most of the current campaign and demolished local rivals Thurrock, from the division above, in the last round. Only three points above the relegation zone in the Blue Square Bet South at the time of writing, they'll also view Farnborough as being there for the taking.

(Saturday 10 December, 3pm)
Two of west London's highest ranked non-league teams have been drawn to play in this FA Trophy tie. Over the years both clubs have made their way up from the Ryman League to become members of the Conference. The visitors, despite their relatively small size, have competed in the Blue Square Bet Premier since 2009/10 having beaten Hampton in the play-offs the season before. While never having reached similar heights, the hosts will be buoyed by their win over Hayes in Saturday's Middlesex Senior Cup tie and will wish to get one over their opponents once again in this bigger game. 

These two clubs play either side of the M25 to the west of London, meaning only the hosts ever regularly appear in TLFG, and as a result this can probably be classed as a derby. Both sides also play in the Blue Square Bet South and are only four points apart towards the wrong end of the table. When the teams met earlier in the season, they shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw. Expect this FA Trophy tie to be a close one.

The FA Trophy draw has handed us another derby with this match at Grosvenor Vale. The Stones are having an unexceptional season in the Ryman League Premier Division but are doing well in this competition having seen off Tooting & Mitcham, Margate and Banbury United in previous rounds. Uxbridge play one level below in the Evostik League Southern Division One Central but have only lost once since September and beat Blue Square Bet North side Histon to set up this match. Wealdstone usually get a good crowd so this could be a lively affair.


Aside from the TLFG Top 10 I couldn't let this League One game go without a mention. The Bees are trying to get 10,000 people to attend this match and have slashed prices to try and achieve it. Adults can stand for just £5 while all seats are only £10. Kids can stand or sit for £1. 

As always make sure you check the match maps to see what else is on as there could be a decent game on much closer to you.

Please share your stories and photos of football in London either in the comments section below or on our Facebook page. You can also contact TLFG through Twitter or by email if you have any questions or want advice about watching football in London.

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