Sunday, 21 October 2012

TLFG: 22-28 October 2012

Hello there and welcome to this week's TLFG.

Thanks to Non-League Day, this blog has received a big boost in traffic over the last few days so if you're new here welcome aboard and thanks for taking the time to read.

After several weeks of a less than full service, mainly because of time constraints, I've managed to produce a full post with a bit of personal match experience, ticket news, match map and TLFG Top 10 which I hope you will find useful.

With QPR not playing until Sunday afternoon, I had the chance to do a bit of groundhopping on Saturday and visit a club I'd never been to before.

After some indecision, I decided quite late in the day to go to Combined Counties Premier Division side Raynes Park Vale.

I'd rattled through the Raynes Park area on trains for many years and seen the floodlights of the ground above the houses but had always had something better to do like visit relatives or go and watch Kingstonian a little further down the line.

If you don't know the area it's in south-west London, not far from Wimbledon, where the average property price is about £540,000 ($865,000) so it's not too shabby.

The club itself is very easy to get to being only a 5-10 minute stroll south of the station which has frequent services from Waterloo.

The leafy entrance to the ground at Grand Drive
Given the almost constant rain on Friday, I was a little concerned the game might be off given the dirt track leading to the entrance was well... rather dirty.

A look over the perimeter fence though showed various signs of life, much to my relief.

Rather disconcertingly though, as I rounded the bend into the car park I was greeted by the sight of a police car surrounded by three officers one of whom was carrying a baseball bat!

I asked no questions, kept my head down, paid my £6 admission and went inside. On listening to a club regular's phone conversation at half-time it appeared there had been some trouble before the game when an individual had turned up with said bat and 'pepper spray' and had made his presence felt.

I'm not sure of any more of the details so don't want to speculate but it was a dramatic way to start a Combined Counties match and one I can assure you never normally happens!

The visitors on Saturday were Molesey, a club located six miles to the west which meant this could probably be classed as a derby.

In fact, this part of south-west London is a real hot bed of clubs with Combined Counties, Isthmian and Football League teams dotted all over meaning a derby is never far away.

The league table made the Moles favourites but the hosts started well and spent most of the first 20 minutes on the attack. So it was a bit of a surprise when they fell behind shortly after this.

Not to be outdone, Raynes Park raised their game and deservedly levelled four minutes later but they were left on the backfoot again when Molesey restored their lead on 31 minutes with another headed goal from close range.

The pivotal moment of the game occurred just after half-time when Vale were awarded a penalty only to see Wester Young pull off a fine save to keep the visitors in front (see clip below).

From then on a combination of bad back passes, poor defending and some fine football saw Molesey rack up another four goals as they strolled into a slightly flattering 6-1 lead.

Vale did deserve to be behind but not by such a margin. It seemed as if the referee wanted to give them every chance of reducing the deficit by playing an inexplicable nine minutes of injury time but there were no further goals.

Watching Raynes Park Vale isn't for purists - the ground is run down and rough round the edges. It's not quite got to Old Spotted Dog standards but it's not far off. There isn't any noticeable way of getting refreshments inside the ground - a visit to the clubhouse outside it is required.

For the rest of us it's great. Easy to get to, cheap to get in and a side that tried to attack.

I'm off to QPR v Everton a little later. Rangers are badly in need of a win, I just hope we get it today.

Each week at TLFG we attempt to compile a list of what's on general sale to non-members at London's Premier League clubs and for other notable matches (click on the team name for details).

Nothing currently available

Nothing currently available

Sunday 18 November, 4pm - Sunderland, Premier League

Sunday 4 November, 130pm - Reading, Premier League
Saturday 17 November, 3pm - Southampton, Premier League (on sale 25 Oct)

Thursday 8 November, 805pm - NK Maribor, Europa League

Saturday 3 November, 530pm - Manchester City, Premier League
Monday 19 November, 8pm - Stoke City, Premier League

Over the next seven days there are more than 80 matches happening in the London area. Aside from all the normal league action, which includes a number of derbies, we've also got Champions League, FA Cup and FA Trophy matches to look forward to.

With all that in mind, here's this week's match map. If you've never used it 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 left side of the page to make sure you get all the information.

Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Friday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures

View London match map 22-28 October 2012 in a larger map

As always, please check with the host club whether a match is still taking place before you travel. Please also let me know if any of the details are wrong or missing.

Here's a list of few games that I think could be worth watching in the week ahead:


ARSENAL v SCHALKE 04 (Wednesday 24 October, 745pm)
We kick-off this week with a bit of Champions League action. The Gunners have made a fine start to their European campaign with two wins out of two to sit top of the group, two points ahead of their German opponents. Domestically, however, Schalke are in better shape than Arsenal and come into this match on the back of a superb 2-1 away win at reigning league champions Borussia Dortmund. In contrast to this, the north London side suffered a very disappointing Premier League reverse at struggling Norwich on Saturday so this one is tough to call. I went to see these two play at Highbury in a similar fixture shortly after 9/11 and enjoyed a very entertaining 3-2 win for the hosts, we could see more of the same. TICKET INFO

CHELSEA v MANCHESTER UNITED (Sunday 28 October, 4pm)
Undoubtedly the match of the week domestically takes place at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon. The Blues have begun their Premier League campaign in impressive fashion with, ironically, only bottom club QPR having taken any points off them (0-0 at Loftus Road) in their opening eight games. This run has left them four points clear at the top ahead of Manchester United. Both sides recorded 4-2 wins on Saturday, although Chelsea's win at Tottenham was the more impressive. Another possible factor to consider ahead of this one is the two clubs' midweek Champions League commitments - United host Braga in what appears to be a home banker while Chelsea have to travel to Shakhtar Donetsk in the far east of Ukraine for a much tougher challenge. Last season this fixture produced a 3-3 draw which doesn't look beyond the bounds of possibility here. TICKET INFO

MILLWALL v HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (Saturday 27 October, 3pm)
This week looks like being a big one for the Lions. After drawing 2-2 at local rivals Crystal Palace on Saturday, the Bermondsey club find themselves only three points above the Championship relegation zone. On Tuesday they host fellow strugglers Birmingham City before title contenders Huddersfield arrive at The Den on Saturday. Simon Grayson's Terriers have been one of the surprise packages of the season so far having won promotion from League One last season via the play-offs. Despite selling star striker Jordan Rhodes to Blackburn Rovers they have continued to win with Wolves becoming their latest victims on Saturday. It looks tough for Millwall but it's not beyond them. TICKET INFO

AFC WIMBLEDON v GILLINGHAM (Saturday 27 October, 3pm)
Dons fans knew this season was going to be tough and so it has proved with only three wins from their opening 13 league games, a run which has left them one place above the relegation zone. An important match against Bristol Rovers, who have also started poorly, is followed by the visit of the League Two leaders Gillingham. The Kent club have won 10 of their matches and are unbeaten away from home. It doesn't look good for Wimbledon going into this one but, as above, it's a fine chance for neutrals to check out one of the best teams in the division. TICKET INFO

DARTFORD v FOREST GREEN ROVERS (Tuesday 23 October, 745pm)
The Darts were one of the bookies' pre-season favourites for relegation from the Conference but they've confounded them with a fine string of performances which have left them one point and one place off a play-off spot, just behind Tuesday's opponents Forest Green. This match, however, is in the FA Cup and is a replay after the sides drew 1-1 on Saturday. If you didn't know, we've reached the fourth qualifying round which means the winners will get a prestigious and lucrative home tie against League Two high flyers Port Vale in the next round. Two even teams, loads at stake - a top night out in my book. TICKET INFO

STAINES TOWN v TRURO CITY (Tuesday 23 October, 745pm)
On paper this isn't one of the stand-out games of the week but I've gone for it because of the drama that has surrounded Truro this season and particularly over the last few days. For various financial reasons, the Cornish club looked set to be thrown out of the Conference South on Friday. Deadlines came and went, bonds weren't secured and it looked bleak. Then some local businessmen got involved and suddenly everything's back to 'normal'. Sadly this wasn't done in time to save their match at Eastleigh on Saturday but it was done in time for this one to go ahead. Formwise Staines should win having enjoyed back-to-back wins over AFC Hornchurch and Sutton United to move up to eighth. Truro are bottom having lost four of their last last five. TICKET INFO

CRAY WANDERERS v ARLESEY TOWN (Sunday 28 October, 3pm)
If you can't get or don't want a ticket for Chelsea v Man Utd, there are other alternatives on Sunday including this FA Trophy tie at Hayes Lane. With landlords Bromley hosting Conference South leaders Salisbury City on Saturday, Cray have had to move this match to the following day to the benefit of football addicts all over town. Despite being without a ground of their own, Cray are usually always in the hunt for an Isthmian League Premier Division play-off place and they are in with a shout again this season. Consecutive away league wins over Enfield Town and Concord Rangers have lifted them into the top 10 so their form is good. Arlesey on the other hand, play in the parallel Southern League Premier Division and are in a pretty similar position although they have games in hand on most teams above them. This looks like a fine way to spend the first afternoon of winter (the clocks change the night before). TICKET INFO

WINGATE & FINCHLEY v HITCHIN TOWN (Saturday 27 October, 3pm)
Isthmian Premier side Wingate were one of the winners on Non-League Day last weekend, at least financially, courtesy of their 'pay what you want' promotion which went down very well with the local football watching public. Sadly for them they could only produce a 0-0 draw with Concord and since then have lost on their travels to Thurrock, in the cup, and Lewes. They will hope for better in this FA Trophy game against Southern Premier side Hitchin who like them are drifting around midtable at present. The visitors' form is better having won two of their last three but they came unstuck at Weymouth on Saturday by three goals to two. Another even game on paper but I've got a feeling Hitchin might edge this. TICKET INFO

UXBRIDGE v CANVEY ISLAND (Saturday 27 October, 3pm)
It's Southern League versus Isthmian League at Honeycroft too in another FA Trophy tie. This time, however, the hosts play at a level below their guests. Uxbridge had a fine 2011-12 campaign, finishing fourth to claim a play-off spot. Sadly it didn't go any further and they are back in Division One Central again this season. They have made a satisfactory start having won five of their 10 league fixtures to sit four points off the all-important fifth spot. Canvey, on the other hand, are in a very similar position to Cray and often produce tough sides that have a chance of doing well. Only one defeat in seven and nine goals in their last two games means the Essex club are without doubt the favourites. CLUB INFO

WEMBLEY v GUERNSEY (Saturday 27 October, 3pm)
Last up this week is the visit of Combined Counties League title contenders Guernsey to Wembley. By coincidence, the last time I watched the Green Lions was on the corresponding weekend last year when they won at Bedfont Sports, a team they would later be promoted with. The first team from the Channel Islands to have ever entered the national league system played some fine football and entertained a healthy crowd. Since going up a level they've picked up where they left off and seem on course for another promotion. Although it's not as one-sided as last year, you feel current leaders Egham Town are only there until Guernsey start playing some of their three games in hand which should give them the three points they need to topple them. Wembley have enjoyed a lot of publicity this season because of their FA Cup 'exploits' and are solidly in midtable but they'll do well to get anything out of this. CLUB INFO

If you have any questions or want advice about watching football in London, you can contact TLFG using the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or email.

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