Monday, 15 December 2014

TLFG: 15-21 December 2014

After all the excitement of last week, the last few days have been very sedate with late shifts ending any hopes of watching any live football.

The week ahead will see me try and put together TLFG's Christmas and New Year Special and go to QPR v West Brom on Saturday.

Generally, it's not a particularly riveting week on the football front with, apart from a couple of big non-league games, very few blockbusters to look forward to. I guess the football planners are saving everything up for the festive period when we get a huge selection of Christmas crackers.

You never know though - in a week when upsets took place in BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor, we could get some stonking games. Here's hoping Santa brings us a few early gifts. Enjoy! 

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. You might also want to have a go at writing a 'Top Ten' one week. 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.


LATEST TICKET NEWS
Please follow this link or click on the tab at the top of the page for all the information you need about how to get a ticket, what's currently available to non-members at London's biggest clubs and any other special offers or promotions which might be running.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

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 in the following 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 map page to make sure you get all the information.

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


Next up is this week's TLFG match recommendations where I list a few games which I think could be worth a watch. If I miss one that you think should get a mention then add your own in the comments section below. 

TLFG TOP 10

1. Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - it says something about the matches on offer this week that this one tops the bill. On paper a League Cup quarter-final should whet the appetite but more often than not, in modern times, it's been seen by Premier League sides as a chance to give a few reserves a run out. I'm hoping that that won't be the case here as this trophy is one that both sides have a really good chance of winning. In the league only a point separates the sides so it should be close. (League Cup quarter-final, Wednesday 17 December, 745pm. Ticket info)

2. West Ham United v Leicester City - in east London we've got a game of great significance at either end of the table. The Hammers have had a superb season and their fans are probably pinching themselves that they're still in the top four. If they beat bottom club Leicester handsomely and Manchester United lose at Villa then they will go third. As mentioned, the Foxes are bottom and winless since September so are well and truly there for the taking. (Premier League, Saturday 20 December, 3pm. Ticket info)

3. Millwall v Bolton Wanderers in the Championship we've got a bit of Friday night football between two sides who are battling to avoid the drop. The Lions flew out of the blocks and briefly topped the table but they've now won just two of their last 16 games to sit 20th, five points above the relegation zone. Bolton made an iffy start but have been performing well of late and are unbeaten in six - it should be another close one. (Championship, Friday 19 December, 745pm. Ticket info)

4. AFC Wimbledon v Mansfield Town - nothing in League One this week so next up we've got a chance to see the Dons in action. Neal Ardley's side have had a good week with back-to-back wins over Wycombe in the FA Cup and York in the league. They also drew Liverpool at home in the FA Cup, a tie that will be shown live on TV. On Saturday they host Mansfield who have only won one of their last 11 league games and have a poor record against the Kingsmeadow club. A win here could get Wombles fans dreaming of a play-off place. (League Two, Saturday 20 December, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Barnet v Chester - despite being held to a goalless draw by Conference South side Concord on Saturday (replay on Tuesday), the Bees are still well on course for the Conference title. After a two-game winless wobble in November, they won the next two to maintain a seven-point lead at the top. Their great season opened with a 5-0 away win against Chester who have since recovered to sit snugly in midtable. Head to The Hive to see if Martin Allen's side can keep up the momentum. (Conference Premier, Saturday 20 December, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Welling United v Ebbsfleet United - what a dramatic few days it's been for these local rivals. On Wednesday Wings manager Jamie Day decided to quit after over five years in the post and head east to join Ebbsfleet, a team playing in the division below, believing that have better long-term prospects. The timing of his departure raised even more eyebrows as it was just three days before the two sides were due to meet in an eagerly anticipated FA Trophy tie. It finished 1-1 and now the sides must meet again for the replay. (FA Trophy first round replay, Tuesday 16 December, 745pm. Ticket info)

7. Bromley v St Albans City the Ravens had no such trouble getting past Leiston in their Trophy tie on Saturday and extended their winning streak to four matches in the process. With no replay to worry about, they now have a week to prepare for this tricky league match against the Saints. It's a match they need to win if they want to keep up with Conference South leaders Boreham Wood who took full advantage of Bromley's cup commitments to move six points clear. With three wins from four, St Albans are well in the hunt for a play-off spot themselves and held Bromley to a 2-2 draw earlier in the season. (Conference South, Saturday 20 December, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. Harrow Borough v Lewes - unlikely to be one for the purists, we've got this relegation six-pointer in the Isthmian League. Harrow are deliciously unpredictable and are capable of pulling off sensational results in very unlikely circumstances - often pushing the big teams hard and losing regularly to far more modest opposition. On Saturday this was demonstrated brilliantly by their 3-3 draw at leaders Margate. Sussex club Lewes were in the Conference Premier until 2009 but it's been downhill ever since and now the Rooks are perched just above the trapdoor into Step 4/Level 8 football. It is a slightly false position though as they do have games in hand on most sides around them but they've got no reason to be complacent. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 20 December, 3pm. Club info)

9. Barking v Haringey Borough this game needs little promotion as it pits second against first in the Essex Senior League. Haringey will start as overwhelming favourites though as they've already opened a whopping 13-point lead and are scoring nearly four goals a game! On the bright side for Barking they have two games in hand so if they win these and Saturday's match then they'll only be four points behind. With all this in mind, it looks like Mayesbrook Park could possibly play host to a title decider in December!  (Essex Senior League, Saturday 20 December, 3pm. Club info)

10. AFC Croydon Athletic v Worcester Park we finish this week with the pick of the games in Step 6/Level 10. At the moment it's potentially a three-horse race in the Combined Counties League Division 1 with Farleigh nine points clear at the top ahead of these two who both have enough games in hand to draw level if they win them. A win here could potentially knock the other one out. Of the three, only Croydon have the facilities to be promoted so I guess it would be good to see them win. (Combined Counties League Division 1, Saturday 20 December, 2pm. Ticket 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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