Monday, 7 November 2016

TLFG: 7-13 November 2016

When the fixtures come out in the summer, apart from the opening day and big derbies, I always look to see who will be providing my 'birthday fixture'.

This year my birthday actually fell on a Saturday and QPR landed an away game against Nottingham Forest. For most Rangers fans it is a fixture that instantly makes your heart sink as it is possibly our biggest bogey game having never, ever won at the City Ground in numerous fixtures since we first played there in 1934.

In recent years the games have been particularly turgid as well with dour draws and 1-0 defeats. Unsurprisingly I didn't make the trip, having ticked off that ground back in 2004 when we lost 2-1 not long before Christmas.

Apparently, once again, it wasn't a classic and the game ended in yet another 1-1 draw. However, drama was to follow the final whistle when QPR's board decided to sack manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink after a year in the job.

England welcome Spain to Wembley next week and tickets are still available
For a young manager who had done well at Burton Albion, it was a shame to see him dispensed with when things weren't really going that badly.

OK we are 17th in the Championship but the table is really tight and a couple of wins would have put us right back in contention for a play-off place.

Fans had complained of negativity in recent weeks and the performance I witnessed against Brentford in the derby was pretty mediocre but I've seen a lot worse at Loftus Road over the years.

QPR are a club in transition after the gross profligacy of the Premier League years and midtable survival is all the board and fans should really be expecting.

I've alluded to it before but QPR were way out of their depth in the Premier League and they are one of the smaller ones even in the Championship. Newcastle alone get almost four times as many fans through the turnstiles for an average home game this season while Aston Villa and Derby get nearly double.

In fact the only reason we're as highly ranked and talked about as much as we are is because we're based in west London and have attracted rich investors who are able to prop us up - they wouldn't bother otherwise.

I hope the next guy is given a fair crack of the whip by all involved but with former Villa boss Tim Sherwood seeming to be the favourite I'm not filled with huge hope...

In other news Harrow Borough travelled to Northampton Town for their big FA Cup tie. With four divisions separating the clubs, little was expected of the Ryman League minnows.

Sadly the form book didn't go out of the window, there was no cup magic whatsoever and the valiant Boro were mercilessly hammered 6-0. They and the travelling supporters were warmly applauded by the Cobblers fans many of whom said the scoreline was a bit flattering.

Nevertheless, to make the first round was a huge achievement by Steve Baker and his side and the prize money and gate receipts garnered by the cup run must be somewhere in the region of £30-40,000 which should keep things ticking over nicely for the rest of the season. They just need to start picking up some points in the league.

Elsewhere in the FA Cup several of our local non-league sides came close to pulling off some very decent results only to be pegged back late on. 

Congratulations though go to Sutton United who have made the Second Round after winning 6-3 at Dartford in a thrilling game on Saturday. Boreham Wood and Dagenham & Redbridge will also be in the draw but will require replays to progress. The draw is on BBC2 on Monday at 7pm.

There are well over 80 matches in the London area over the next week despite the Premier League and Championship taking time off for the international break. The highlight of the week is England's World Cup qualifier against Scotland but if you can't get a ticket for it then there are many other options in League One, National League, FA Trophy and FA Vase.

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 7 November

Essex Senior Cup Third Round

Aveley v Brightlingsea Regent @745pm - two of the Ryman 1 North's top six meet in this county cup tie at Mill Field in the pick of the day's action

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Stansted @745pm - if you fancy something a bit nearer to the centre of town we have this match in Ilford where Clapton fans will get in for a reduced price of £4 and there'll be a collection for a homeless charity


Tuesday 8 November

EFL Trophy

Chelsea U23 v Oxford United @730pm - the Blues' youngsters welcome a potentially full strength Oxford side to Stamford Bridge where it's only £5 to get in but you must buy before 5pm
Barnet v Peterborough United @8pm - in the other tie of the night, the Bees welcome League One play-off contenders Posh

National League South
Dartford v St Albans City @745pm - after both bowing out of the FA Cup in multiple-goal thrillers over the weekend, the two promotion hopefuls return to league action with this important game

Ryman League Division 1 North
Thurrock v Phoenix Sports @745pm - after an iffy start the hosts are starting to string some results together to climb back up towards the top five where they probably should be, whereas Phoenix were top and are now starting to slip - important game for both

Essex Senior Cup Third Round
Barking v Grays Athletic @745pm - the Essex Senior League leaders welcome Ryman Premier strugglers Grays and will undoubtedly make life tough for them


Wednesday 9 November

Ryman League Division 1 South

Cray Wanderers v Whyteleafe @745pm - two clubs perched just outside the play-off places meet at Bromley's Hayes Lane ground to battle for three crucial points
Walton Casuals v Hythe Town @745pm - back at Whyteleafe's ground, their tenants will be entertaining fourth-placed Hythe who made last season's play-offs and will hope to go one better this time


Friday 11 November

World Cup qualifier
England v Scotland @745pm - as far as the Three Lions are concerned, aside from Germany, this is about as big as it gets in terms of international rivalry. Apart from a couple of friendlies, this will be the first competitive fixture between the sides since 1999 so unsurprisingly it has sold out. England are currently top of Group F and unbeaten while Scotland are three points behind in fourth and will probably be happy with a point

U23 Professional Development League
Queens Park Rangers v Coventry City @2pm - if you're in town for the England game then you could start off proceedings with this match at Loftus Road where U23 games are usually free entry but check with the club before you travel. There is also a direct rail link from Shepherd's Bush to Wembley if you want to do both


Saturday 12 November

League One

Millwall v Bristol Rovers @3pm - with the international break taking place, this match is the best on offer. After a dodgy run, the Lions have now won five of their last six and should be in fine fettle going into this tough game against top-five Rovers

National League
Bromley v Boreham Wood @3pm - we've a got a derby to look forward to at Hayes Lane between two clubs who won promotion together the season before last. Despite being a significantly smaller club, The Wood are the team in form and came very close to beating Notts County in the FA Cup on Sunday so should start as favourites
Sutton United v Barrow @3pm - the U's lashed six past Dartford in the FA Cup on Saturday while Barrow were surprisingly held to a 2-2 draw by eighth tier Taunton Town. Despite failing to win, this result still extended the Cumbrian club's unbeaten run to 16 matches so they'll be tough to beat

National League South
Welling United v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - Park View Road plays host to a Kent derby between sides desperate for points at either end of the division - sadly it's Welling who are fighting the drop, again

FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round - this is a competition for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers of the English football system with the final at Wembley in May. At this stage the remaining 72 teams from the seventh and eighth tiers fight to go into the hat with the sixth tier clubs before the 'big boys' from the fifth tier join for the first round proper in early December. The winners of each second qualifying round tie pocket a cheque for £3,250.

Dulwich Hamlet v Chesham United @3pm - an intriguing inter-league tie between two sides who have done well over the last few years in the Ryman and Southern Leagues respectively. Both have accrued 25 points so far this season but Chesham have done it in four fewer games. The Buckinghamshire club also fought hard before losing 2-1 at League One side Peterborough in the FA Cup on Saturday
Kingstonian v Tonbridge Angels @3pm - two-time Trophy winners Kingstonian welcome Kent club Tonbridge to Kingsmeadow for another attractive tie between two clubs with realistic play-off ambitions in the Ryman League
Hanwell Town v Frome Town @3pm - the hosts have put a decent little run together of late and have pushed up the table. On Saturday they welcome opponents who are in the top eight from the division above. It will be tough but Hanwell have already pulled off a shock or two on home soil this season so could well do it again
Phoenix Sports v Winchester City @3pm - after a brilliant start, Phoenix are now five without a win and in desperate need of a boost. If they don't get it against Thurrock in midweek they have a good opportunity against Winchester who play in the parallel Southern League Division 1 South & West

Ryman League Division 1 South
Greenwich Borough v Carshalton Athletic @3pm - two of the top five go head-to-head in this tasty looking fixture down in Eltham

Southern League Division 1 Central
Northwood v Uxbridge @3pm - we've got a derby over on the west side of town where these two, who have had poor seasons, will be fighting more for bragging rights than anything else

FA Vase Second Round - this is a competition for clubs predominantly in the ninth and tenth tiers of the English football system with the final at Wembley in May. At this stage we're down to the final 128 teams so there's a long way to go yet. The winners of each tie pocket a cheque for £750.

Bedfont Sports v Haywards Heath Town @3pm - clubs from the top six in the Combined Counties League and Southern Combination have been paired in this attractive tie next to the runway at Heathrow Airport
Cockfosters v Wembley @3pm - north London rivals and third and fourth in the SSML Premier, one of the ties of the round at the end of the Piccadilly Line
Walton & Hersham v Glebe @3pm - following relegation from the Ryman League, the Swans have made a good fist of life the Combined Counties League and will start as favourites. However, despite playing a level below their hosts, Glebe are on one of the best in the SCEFL 1 and should be no pushovers


Sunday 13 November

FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round
Cray Wanderers v Worthing @3pm - the hosts have made a good start to their Ryman 1 South campaign and are up among the frontrunners. Worthing got promoted from this division last season and are holding their own at the higher level but they might find this tough if Cray are up for it

FA Vase Second Round
Epsom & Ewell v Abbey Rangers @3pm - two midtable sides from the Combined Counties Premier meet at Chipstead on Sunday afternoon. Former Vase finalists E&E should win but Abbey have come a long way in a short time and should be undeterred
Sutton Common Rovers v Sporting Club Thamesmead @3pm - neither side have been pulling up trees in their respective divisions this season with the hosts 20th in the Combined Counties Premier and SCT in the bottom two of the SCEFL 1 which is a level below. It's unlikely to be a classic but it's being played at Sutton United on their 3G pitch so should go ahead whatever the weather

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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