Monday 21 November 2016

TLFG: 21-27 November 2016

Welcome one and all to the 239th edition of TLFG! 

I know you can barely contain your excitement but it's been a momentous week again as not only did QPR win their first match under returning boss Ian Holloway but tickets for a match at Arsenal against a decent opponent went on general sale!

Now that you've had a chance to digest this staggering news we can get on with the rest of the blog.

What else has been happening I hear you ask?

Well it's all looking rather good for London clubs in the Premier League right now. Chelsea beat Middlesbrough on Sunday to go top while Arsenal and Spurs scored very late goals to consolidate their places in the top five, while Watford are in eighth after beating reigning champions Leicester.

Tickets for Arsenal v Southampton in the EFL Cup are on general sale

However, it's not looking so great for Crystal Palace and West Ham who are dangling precariously above the bottom three. The Hammers have been around this part of the table all season but it's Palace fans who must have the alarm bells ringing in their ears as defeat against Manchester City on Saturday extended their losing run to five consecutive matches which is currently the worst of any side in the division.

In the Championship, Fulham are still the best side the capital has to offer at the moment with their draw against Sheffield Wednesday moving them up to eighth just two points off a play-off spot. 

AFC Wimbledon continue to make all the headlines in League One from a London perspective. This week the Dons played Bury at home twice in the FA Cup and league and beat them 5-0 and 5-1 respectively. The former sets up a very winnable second round tie against non-league Curzon Ashton while the other propelled them into the top six. On Tuesday they face an intriguing derby match against Millwall at The Den.

It's unlikely that any hugely positive news is going to come out of League Two this season but Barnet are the more likely to create it. Slap bang in the middle of the table, they are only three points off the play-off places but so are many other teams so it's wide open. The Bees are unbeaten in five, so seem to be hitting some half-decent form.

From my point of view it's been a busier than normal week when it comes to fielding questions from you fine people. Keep them and your stories of groundhopping and football tourism coming.

I've got this week off and hope to go to Harrow Borough v Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday and will be heading to Belgium on Thursday for the Europa League match between Genk and Rapid Vienna. 

The weather here in London is pretty grim at the moment so always check before you travel whether a game is still taking place.

Also, if you've always wondered what Cockfosters at the far end of the Piccadilly Line is like, you might get some idea by reading the latest piece by 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who paid a visit to the local football club recently.

That's it from me - enjoy your week!

There are almost 90 matches in the London area over the next week as the Champions League makes its return. There is also action in the Premier League, EFL, National League, FA Trophy and several minor league and county cup competitions.

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).

Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures

Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures

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 21 November

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Blackburn Rovers @7pm - the Hammers' U23 side are pushing for promotion and could climb to second if they win this game at Dagenham & Redbridge

Middlesex Senior Cup Second Round
Barnet v Enfield Town @8pm - now playing three divisions apart, these old north London rivals have been paired in the county cup in what must be the tie of the round

Ryman League Division 1 North
Aveley v Thurrock @745pm - it's derby time over in Essex where these two, who play about a mile apart, do battle in the race for a play-off spot


Tuesday 22 November

League One

Millwall v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - the game of the night is this derby at The Den. The League One table is extremely tight with only five points between sixth and sixteenth and these two sit within that group. Millwall were among the favourites for the title but have found things tougher than expected while the Dons have confounded many by forcing their way into the play-off places. Since re-forming, the visitors have never played Millwall in a league game so this is an historic occasion! 

League Two
Leyton Orient v Exeter City @745pm - with both teams in the bottom five, this is most definitely a relegation six-pointer. The O's have beaten fellow strugglers Colchester and Hartlepool in recent weeks so there is hope

National League

Boreham Wood v Sutton United @745pm - we've got another derby at Meadow Park where teams from the opposite ends of the London area meet for the first time this season. Sutton are the bigger club but it's The Wood who find themselves closer to the play-off places after a win over Southport on Saturday

Kent Senior Cup
Welling United v Dartford @745pm - it might only be a county cup game but these two provide one of the bigger non-league derbies on the south-east side of town so it should be worth a watch

Ryman League Premier Division
Harrow Borough v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - a big game at either end as Boro look to take some of their great cup form into this tough league match against one of the capital's biggest non-league clubs. When they met earlier in the season at Champion Hill, Harrow stunned the footballing world by winning 4-1 and they badly need a repeat performance (I'm hoping to go to this one)


Wednesday 23 November

Champions League

Arsenal v Paris St Germain @745pm - this match should decide who wins and who comes second in Group A as they're locked together on 10 points with two games to go. The Gunners have only lost once this season in all competitions while PSG are far from the all-conquering side they were last season. Arsenal to edge it

Uefa Youth League
Arsenal v Paris St Germain @1pm - the clubs' U19 sides meet at Boreham Wood at lunchtime so you could really gorge on the Gunners on Wednesday if you've got a ticket for the evening game. These matches are often free entry too, so check with Arsenal for updates before you travel

Southern League Challenge Cup Second Round
Northwood v Slough Town @745pm - the hosts face a very tough Rebels side who are up in the top three of the division above. Slough used to be a fine team when I first started watching non-league football in the '80s and were members of what is now the National League. After losing their ground in 2003, the club have played at various venues, in various divisions but now have a new stadium of their own again and look like a club to watch


Saturday 26 November

Premier League
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur @530pm - the leaders versus the only unbeaten side in the league and it's a huge derby too, undoubtedly the game of the week. Nuff said!

Brentford v Birmingham City @3pm - can't get a ticket for the above match, then this is your next best option. The Bees continue, like many sides in this tightly contested division, to be highly inconsistent and consequently lie firmly in midtable. The Blues, on the other hand, seem to have been in the top five all season without doing anything particularly remarkable. The fact that four wins from 10 has been enough to maintain this position shows you what a strange competition it's been

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Fleetwood Town @3pm - these two former non-league sides are both well in the hunt for a play-off place and the Dons could even go into this as a top five club if they beat Millwall on Tuesday. The sides have only met eight times over the years and Fleetwood have yet to win
Charlton Athletic v Sheffield United @3pm - classed as an 'Addicks gold match', the visit of the Blades is one of the biggest games of Charlton's season. Both these sides are really too big for this division and were Premier League rivals back in 2007 when they got relegated. Sadly neither side has been back and have both spent far too many seasons at this level since. It's looking promising for the Yorkshire side, though, as they are currently up in second and on a long unbeaten run

League Two
Barnet v Notts County @3pm - as with all the other EFL divisions, League Two is also exceptionally tight with 14th placed Barnet only three points off a play-off place. The visitors are just a point ahead so it should be close

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Barrow @3pm - the Daggers were top but have lost a bit of ground on Forest Green in recent weeks, slipping to fourth. They also suffered a disappointing loss to Halifax in the FA Cup but bounced back on Saturday with a well-needed win at struggling York. Barrow are just a point and a place below them and have lost only two of their 20 league games this season, making them the toughest side to beat. The hosts will no doubt be hoping the visitors' very long journey down from Cumbria will work to their advantage

FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round - at this stage of the competition, clubs from the National League North and South enter the draw alongside all the remaining clubs from the seventh and eighth tier leagues who have made it through the previous qualifying rounds. The winners of each tie earn a cheque for £4,000 and move a step closer to the final which takes place at Wembley in May

Hampton & Richmond Borough v Royston Town @3pm - despite the fact that there are 40 ties across the country, only one of them is taking place in the London area. On the face of it, it's not even that enticing as one of the top sides in the NLS hosts a side from two divisions below them. To be fair to Royston they are top of the Southern League Division 1 Central but they'll still do well to avoid defeat at the Beveree

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Tonbridge Angels @3pm - the Towners have been regular play-off contenders in recent seasons and after a slow start this time, are getting back in contention. Tonbridge were among the leaders at the start of the campaign but have slipped back a bit as cup commitments have taken precedence. Both now level on points, a win could take either to within touching distance of the top five

Ryman League Division 1 North
AFC Hornchurch v Maldon & Tiptree @3pm - a lot of divisions are tight at the moment but this one is more so than others as three teams including the visiting M&T share top spot. The Urchins back in ninth are still well in with a shout of the play-offs and should provide a stiff test for their Essex rivals

Essex Senior League
Barking v Basildon United @3pm - the Blues continue to hold top spot in the ESL and with a five-point lead and three games in hand on their nearest rivals, it's looking really good for them. Basildon were last season's runners-up and are in the top five again so this should give us a decent insight into how good Barking are


Sunday 27 November

Premier League

Arsenal v Bournemouth @215pm - these two will be pretty satisfied with how their seasons have begun. The Gunners are going well in the Premier League, Champions League and EFL Cup while the Cherries are right up in ninth and continuing to surprise many people with some fine performances. However, you can't really see past an Arsenal win as Bournemouth have never beaten or even scored a goal against the London club in their previous meetings - although there have only been three
Watford v Stoke City @12pm - earlier in the day you have this fixture which on first inspection is one of those games that will really only appeal to supporters of the sides involved. However, when you look a little closer you'll see that the Hornets are a top eight side and Stoke are climbing the table fairly rapidly after recovering well from a bad start. It still doesn't really get my pulse racing - sorry

Kent Senior Trophy
Cray Valley PM v Tunbridge Wells @3pm - the non-league alternative is this county cup game down near Eltham. Cray are a friendly club and well worth a visit if you fancy a bit of groundhopping on a Sunday afternoon


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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