Sunday, 8 January 2012

TLFG: 9-15 January 2012

Welcome back to TLFG, hope you had a great festive period and good New Year. Hundreds of games have taken place since I last wrote and I want to hear where you ended up.

Personally I very rarely get to see any festive football as I spend most of the time on the road visiting relatives in remote areas where there either aren't any local clubs, the grounds are too hard to get too (I don't drive) or the winter weather usually snuffs out any hope of live action.

My football diet has largely consisted of watching QPR's steady slide down the Premier League table having attended the losses to Sunderland and Norwich City - the less said the better!

Yesterday I resumed my non-league duties with a trip to Kingsmeadow to watch Kingstonian host Harrow Borough in the Ryman League. As a youth this used to be one of the highlights of my season as my cousin lived in Kingston and nominally supported the Ks (something I made more of than he did - I don't think he could've cared less). However well Harrow played, they always lost so it was with this record in mind that I headed back down Jack Goodchild Way for the first time in around 20 years (a very unsettling thought).

I remember visiting this ground in the season it opened (1989/90) when it was probably one of the finest non-league stadiums in the country. It has been noticeably upgraded since then but that's not surprising given that it now also plays host to and is actually owned by League Two side AFC Wimbledon.

Harrow Borough (blue) defend a corner against Kingstonian
The Ks started the game brightly and I feared for Harrow who came into the game on the back of a pretty poor run. They survived though and did enough throughout to deserve a draw. Sadly for them, former Peterborough defender Gary MacDonald fired home during an injury time goalmouth scramble to steal all three points for the Surrey side as my losing hoodoo at the ground continued.

So what matches did you take in? Please post your stories either in the comments section below or on the TLFG Facebook page. Also, feel free to add your photos to our Flickr group.

I'd like at this point to also welcome and thank those of you who have recently come to this blog and joined TLFG on Facebook and Twitter. The feedback I've received has been really helpful and pleasing and I'm glad that my output is being of use to someone.

If you're planning a trip to London and want to see some Premier League football, here's a guide to what's currently on general sale at the capital's top clubs.

Nothing currently available

Nothing currently available

1 February - West Bromwich Albion 8pm, Premier League
11 February - Stoke City 3pm, Premier League

17 January - MK Dons 8pm, FA Cup (all adult tickets £15)
21 January - Wigan Athletic 3pm, Premier League
4 February - Wolverhampton Wanderers 3pm, Premier League

31 January - Wigan Athletic 745pm, Premier League
11 February - Newcastle United 530pm, Premier League

If you're already in town or want to watch something in the coming week here are the match maps:

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


WEEKEND MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures



As always please let me know if any of the details change, are incorrect or I've completely missed a match off. Also, particularly if you're going to a non-league fixture, make sure you check with the club on the day that a match is still taking place as changes can occur at quite short notice.

Over the next seven days you have 67 matches to choose from. Here are the pick of the ones that stand out for me:


TLFG TOP 10


ARSENAL v LEEDS UNITED (Monday 9 January, 745pm)
How time flies. It seems no time since this fixture was a regular occurrence but the last time these two met in a league match was nearly eight years ago. In the FA Cup it's a different story with the clubs playing each other at the same stage last season, with the Gunners coming out on top but only after a replay. Form and status would suggest that the hosts should go through again with the Championship side having won only one of their last six. Normally you would expect Arsene Wenger to give a youngster or two a run out but even this seems an unlikely glimmer of hope for the Whites as Arsenal badly need to win this trophy.

Harry Redknapp's side played five times since I last wrote three weeks ago, winning three and drawing two. They now find themselves third in the Premier League and if they win this game in hand they will draw level with second placed Manchester United. The Toffees appeared to labour past non-league Tamworth in the cup on Saturday but they got the job done. Spurs should win this but I don't expect the margin to be huge.

At first glance this would appear to be a run-of-the-mill Championship match but it is in fact the first leg of a Carling Cup semi-final. Both sides warmed up for this game by bowing out of the FA Cup at the first attempt on Saturday, perhaps showing where their priorities lie. Over the two legs you would expect the Welsh side to progress given their current league standing (third in the Championship) and the fact they have recent experience of getting to Wembley (2008 FA Cup final). They are, however, renowned in recent seasons for choking at the crucial moment something that Palace might be able to exploit. There are a few tickets left if you want to go.

I've listed this match for people who like to enjoy watching two teams scrap for every point they can get. Both these teams lie just above the relegation zone in League Two. A month ago things were looking pretty grim for the Daggers having lost nine league games in a row but they've started to turn things around and are starting to move in the right direction. Saturday's draw against Championship side Millwall in the FA Cup will also have boosted their confidence. The Bulls won the reciprocal fixture earlier in the season 1-0 so expect another close one here.

The FA Trophy returns this weekend with the competition now down to its last 32 teams. Both teams play at Level 6 of the national game in the Blue Square Bet South and North respectively. On paper you would expect the hosts to win having lost only once since the end of October. The Pilgrims have only won one of their last five but shouldn't be discounted having seen off the in-form Hyde in the last round. 

Ryman League Premier Division side Wealdstone will start this FA Trophy match as underdogs when they face Blue Square Bet Premier outfit Barrow. The gulf of two divisions shouldn't overawe the Stones though who are playing really well at the moment. A look at their results will show you they've gone 11 games without defeat and have put four and five goals past local rivals Harrow Borough and Wingate & Finchley respectively in recent weeks. The visitors will also have to contend with a round trip of well over 400 miles which the hosts will also hope to take advantage of.

These two towns to the east of London, technically they're in Essex, lie around five miles apart. This Ryman League Division One North match is therefore very much a derby. Although Romford are currently without a ground of their own and share with Aveley somewhat further away, this shouldn't diminish the importance of the match for the two sets of supporters. The Foxes are having a bit of a shocker this season and are currently bottom having not won a match in any competition since the 12 October. The visitors also won the previous meeting at Mill Road back in September by 2-0 so they should start as favourites.

This must be one of the stand out games anywhere at Level 8 around the country this week as the top two in the Ryman League Division One South meet at Champion Hill. The hosts start in second just two points behind their Sussex opponents so will go top if they win, they also have a game in hand. Bognor were winning games for fun throughout November and December but have failed to win their last two suggesting they could be there for the taking.

Having met twice in a matter of days in the league and FA Vase a little over a month ago, the two go head-to-head again in the Mile End Stadium derby. For those that don't know, these two East End clubs share the same ground and both have roots in the local Bengali community (although the sides sport players from all backgrounds). Bethnal Green are 2-0 up in meetings between the sides this season and will hope to complete the hat-trick. The last league meeting drew a very healthy crowd by Essex Senior League standards so get yourself along to this one if you're in the area.

Another big game in Level 9 takes place at the Erith Stadium where second play third in the Kent League. Most of the talk in this division has been about the mighty Herne Bay who are 12 points clear at the top and still unbeaten. However, these two have been doing rather nicely too, particularly TLFG side Erith who have games in hand on all their closest rivals. Despite their success, the Dockers are one of the most poorly attended sides in the league so show them your support and give them a cheer if you get the chance.


If you've already had a good look at the match maps you may have noticed that I've also included the FA Youth Cup matches at QPR and West Ham this week. Although obviously not first team games, they give you the chance to visit two of London's better grounds and get in for a fraction of the normal price. You might even see a decent match in the process.

So that's it. Enjoy your football this week and remember if you have any comments or questions about TLFG or watching football in London please don't hesitate to get in touch through either the comments section below, Facebook, Twitter or email.

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