Sunday, 16 October 2016

TLFG: 17-23 October 2016

After two glorious weeks of getting out and about and watching some live games, I've been back on late shifts missing out on all the fun.

However, I will be off to watch Harrow Borough again on Tuesday after they managed to come from behind in the FA Cup to secure a replay against Margate in Kent. The stakes are high as the winners will earn a place in the First Round where they could draw a lucrative tie against a League One or Two club.

SCEFL side Fisher are holding a Community Day at their new ground on Saturday
I've also never been to Hartsdown Park so I'm looking forward to spending a bit of time by the seaside and will be making a bit of trip of it as I have a couple of days off. I'm already eyeing a visit to the mysterious Shell Grotto...

In other news, Fisher are holding a community day on Saturday when they play Deal Town. They've recently moved to a new ground back in the area where they originally come from and are doing all they can to get local people interested. The Salter Road facilities look good and have Canary Wharf and the rest of the Docklands skyscrapers as a stunning backdrop. If you're in the area, check them out.

I've also heard from West Ham fan Robin who is part of a group of supporters who are trying to petition the Mayor of Newham to help them relocate the West Ham Supporters Club venue from Upton Park to Stratford. Apparently, the supporters club raise money for various charitable causes and this is becoming more difficult following the move to the London Stadium. Click the link above if you want to find out more.

Lastly we've got another guest ground review from Australian reader Nick Guoth who paid a visit to big spending Greenwich Borough as they took on VCD Athletic in the FA Trophy. Here's what he had to say:

GUEST GROUND REVIEW

GREENWICH BOROUGH
by
Nick Guoth

Greenwich Borough have moved back to the Royal Borough of Greenwich after an eight-year hiatus. Through some good work from the chairman and a lengthy deal struck with Cray Valley PM, the ground-sharing will continue for some period into the future. The ground is easy to get to via a number of different methods of transport and there is ample parking on site. I used a bus from Lewisham.

The entry was £10 as Greenwich are a Ryman League team and once inside, the ground is fenced off with six-foot picket-style fencing, coloured in red and black - Greenwich colours. On the building that is the clubhouse there are two large painted banners, one in green and black for Cray and one in red and black for Greenwich. 

There are two stands, one on the northern side which is standing only, called the "Family Stand", and a somewhat larger one on the southern side with has four rows of seats primarily coloured red and back alternatively with a green set in the middle of the stand. There is also a small shop near the entry where one can purchase replica shirts and old programmes. Finally, about 30 minutes prior to kickoff, the team sheet is handed out to any spectators who are interested, a worthy touch not commonly found at other grounds.

This game was a replay from the 1-1 draw at Old Road, Crayford on Saturday in the FA Trophy. I think VCD Athletic win the toss as they kicked down the hill. The ground is sloped more than any other I have seen so far with probably a drop of about three to four feet between the eastern end and the western end. Primarily, the game was played in the two defensive/attacking areas of the park as long ball was the plan of both teams. Early on the home side broke the deadlock. An intelligent cross-field clearance from the right back was brought down and from the parried shot the ball fell to Denness who could have tapped in, but chose to slam the ball into the empty net from one yard out.

It appeared that with the slope and, what appeared to be momentum, Greenwich would continue and see the game out. However, a cross from the left was met well by Newby who headed past the Greenwich goalkeeper to tie up the scores with 20 minutes left. Then, 10 minutes later, an error from one of the defenders, too high up in the opposing half and with no real understanding of what to do with the ball, led to the winner. Having stripped the ball, the VCD players took it down the right. Stevenson made an unchecked, darting run into the box, received the ball and beat the Greenwich keeper at the near post. As he had done in the Saturday match Stevenson was the hero for VCD.

The game itself, as I mentioned before, tended to rely on long-ball throughout. The midfield rarely obtained a touch, if they existed at all. However, late in the game it was a surprising that VCD started to play the ball on the ground and I feel that their work through that method generated the first goal and assisted somewhat in the second. The last 10 minutes were tense and typical of a cup tie but probably the better team won.

ED - thanks a lot Nick. We'd love to hear from any other TLFG readers who want to send in a brief ground review. Get in touch by one of the methods outlined at the bottom of the page if you do.

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THE WEEK AHEAD
There are well over 100 matches in the London area over the next week with the Premier League and EFL taking centre stage. The FA Vase is back and there are games in several county and minor league cups too.

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 on the following match maps. If you've never used them 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 drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (white pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.


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).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 17 October

Professional Development League

Millwall v Crystal Palace @2pm - the Lions' U23 side kick things off again this week with this interesting derby against the Eagles. According to the blurb I've seen it's being played at Bromley's ground but confirm with the club before you travel

Ryman League Premier Division
Kingstonian v Enfield Town @745pm - the early kick-off in the match above could see you catch two games on Monday with this Ryman League game being the pick of the non-league action. The K's groundshare with AFC Wimbledon so you'll get the chance to visit an EFL ground too

Ryman League Division 1 North
Aveley v Phoenix Sports @745pm - the visitors have just lost top spot to Cheshunt but only on goal difference and they have two games in hand. A win here will put them back in control but Aveley are play-off contenders themselves so it will be tough

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Tuesday 18 October

Championship

Fulham v Norwich City @745pm - the biggest match of the night sees leaders Norwich pay a visit to Craven Cottage but they haven't won there since 1986
Queens Park Rangers v Bristol City @745pm - just up the road in Shepherd's Bush, QPR also face a tough evening as they host fifth-placed City

League One
Millwall v Bolton Wanderers @745pm - both sides were fancied to do well this season but while the Lions have faltered, Bolton have kept themselves in the top three

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Harlow Town @745pm - despite being the biggest club in the division, Dulwich are woefully inconsistent at the moment with only one win in five. However, when it clicks it clicks as Lowestoft, Folkestone and Grays discovered

Essex Senior League
Barking v Waltham Forest @745pm - the hosts have recently claimed top spot and with several games in hand on most of their rivals it's looking really good for them. However, fourth-placed Forest are one of the few teams who have played fewer games and might realistically be their main challengers

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Wednesday 19 October

Champions League

Arsenal v Ludogorets Razgrad @745pm - next up for the Gunners are the Bulgarian league champions who have come to dominate their domestic competitions following a takeover by Kiril Domuschiev in 2010. Despite this, Arsenal should take all three points with relative ease.

Uefa Youth League
Arsenal v Ludogorets Razgrad @1pm - if you're in town for the game above, you can see the sides' respective U19 sides battle it out at Boreham Wood's ground at lunchtime

Middlesex Senior Cup First Round
Hendon v Wembley @745pm - for me, the best non-league game features these two local rivals whose grounds both afford views of the national stdium
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Friday 21 October

FA Vase First Round
FC Elmstead v Sporting Club Thamesmead @745pm - get your weekend of football watching underway with some cup football in Bromley as two clubs from south-east London look to take another step towards Wembley

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Saturday 22 October

Premier League

Arsenal v Middlesbrough @3pm - on paper this should be a comfortable win for the hosts but they only scraped past a weak Swansea outfit on Saturday so must avoid complacency at all costs
West Ham United v Sunderland @3pm - now two games unbeaten, the Hammers are slowly pulling away from the bottom three. The Mackems are winless and rooted to the bottom so anything less than victory will be close to disastrous

Championship
Brentford v Barnsley @3pm - both made decent starts to the campaign and consequently find themselves in the top 11 and well placed for a tilt at the play-offs. However, things have gone badly wrong for the Tykes in recent weeks and they're now winless in five

League One
Millwall v Fleetwood Town @3pm - there's not too much of interest about this midtable match other than the fact that the Lancashire club have never won at The Den but that's been made a lot harder by the fact that they've only played there once

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Macclesfield Town @3pm - the Daggers have had some big games in recent weeks and face another one here. At the moment the hosts are two points off top spot in second but the visiting Silkmen will draw level with them if they win

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Maidenhead United @3pm - the game of the day in the NLS pits third versus first. I saw the Beavers play about six weeks ago and they gave a great account of themselves as they beat St Albans. The Magpies will be a different proposition though and are already five points clear at the top with one league defeat from 14 so far this season

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v AFC Sudbury @3pm - the top five have already formed a group which seem to be pulling away while, at the time of writing, Dulwich and Sudbury represent the best of the rest. Locked together on 18 points, at least one of them will try and keep pace with the leaders

Ryman League Division 1 North
Phoenix Sports v Bury Town @3pm - it's a big week for Phoenix who will come into this game as leaders if they can get something out of their match against Aveley on Monday. Bury are currently third and have a game in hand so might even be top themselves by teatime on Saturday - huge game

Southern League Division 1 Central
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Barton Rovers @3pm - from a TLFG point of view, Ashford are leading the charge for honours in this division. Having been promoted last season, they're up in the top six and doing well. Barton are fourth so victory here would be impressive and great for morale

FA Vase First Round - this competition features sides playing in the ninth, tenth and, in a few cases, eleventh tiers. It is open to clubs all over the country with the final at Wembley. Although this is the 'First' round, there have been two qualifying rounds previous to this one. The winning club in each tie receives  prize money of £675 and the losers £225. At this stage there are still over 200 teams in the draw so there's a long way to go yet.

Abbey Rangers v Tunbridge Wells @3pm - I think I'm right in saying that this is the first year Abbey Rangers have entered the Vase and they've done really well to get this far already. On Saturday they welcome the beaten finalists from 2012-13. The Kent club are steeped in history having been around since 1886 so it will almost be like having royalty come to visit
Walton & Hersham v Thame United @3pm - two of the form teams from the Combined Counties League and Hellenic League meet at Stompond Lane in this tie. W&H were once one of the greats of non-league with an FA Amateur Cup win in 1973 and several notable runs in the FA Cup. Now playing way down in the ninth tier following relegation last season, they're looking to get back on track
Wembley v Desborough Town @3pm - what better way to watch an early round game than in the shadow of the national stadium itself? It's always worth going to see a match at Wembley if they're playing in an FA competition just to be able to see the gleaming arch over the east stand. This match is also a fine one on paper too as second in the Spartan South Midlands League host third in the United Counties League

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Sunday 23 October

Premier League
Chelsea v Manchester United @4pm - for most of the 21st century these two teams have been the dominant powers of the English game. However, times have changed as money and success has gone to other clubs. Not only did they both fail to win the Premier League last season, neither qualified for the Champions League and Chelsea failed to get into Europe at all. Although it's still early days, neither are in the top four again. However, a win for the Blues and a set of freak results elsewhere could see them end the week back on top

FA Vase First Round
Wadham Lodge v Hertford Town @2pm - the alternative to the glitz of Stamford Bridge can be found at Wadham Lodge Sports Ground up in the wilds of Walthamstow. The hosts have so far failed to show the form that propelled them to a top-six finish in last season's Essex Senior League but should be more than capable of giving Hertford a game


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. 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.

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