Sunday 15 January 2017

TLFG: 16-22 January 2017

It's been another busy week of football in London and our local clubs by and large have had a pretty good few days.

Chelsea comfortably beat reigning champions Leicester City to stay seven points clear at the top of the Premier League while big wins for Tottenham and Arsenal kept them in the top four.

West Ham eased past Crystal Palace to move nine points clear of the relegation zone, while the Eagles were left dangling precariously just above it. 

Elsewhere, Watford ground out a drab 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough to collect what could be a crucial point come the end of the season. They also remembered legendary manager Graham Taylor who passed away this week at the age of 72.

In the Championship, Brentford pushed Newcastle close but were unable to stop them returning to the top of the table as the Toon enjoyed a 2-1 win. Elsewhere there were tidy victories for Fulham and QPR who meet each other this Saturday in the derby.

Five goals for £3 can't be bad
The game of the week in League One was the derby between Charlton and Millwall but as so often happens in these big matches there were no goals and everyone went home a little disappointed. AFC Wimbledon picked up a useful win over Oxford to keep their outside hopes of a play-off place alive while in League Two, Barnet and Leyton Orient both had a weekend to forget with defeats to Doncaster and Portsmouth respectively.

Boreham Wood, Dulwich Hamlet, Wealdstone and Welling United all made it through to the last 16 of the FA Trophy while Sutton United earned themselves a replay. 

My week saw me take in an FA Youth Cup game for the first time in many years. It's very similar to the senior event but simply features clubs' U18 sides.

Probably the biggest story from this year's competition is the news that Hertfordshire non-league club FC Broxbourne Borough (whose senior side are currently bottom of the ninth tier Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division) have made it to the last 16 against sides from some of the biggest clubs in the country. They've drawn Aston Villa away in the next round.

Anyway, the tie I saw was the London derby between QPR and Tottenham at Loftus Road. Rangers' youth teams haven't been doing that well this season so I didn't expect much but for £3 and the match a few minutes walk away I thought what the hell.

After a game opening few minutes, the hosts were soon under the cosh and went 2-0 down to their classy opponents. Many more chances presented themselves to the visitors but they were squandered before, virtually out of nowhere, QPR pulled one back with a few seconds of the first half remaining to make things interesting.

With the hopes of the nearly 700 crowd raised, the players returned for the second half but within another few seconds the visitors were 3-1 up and the R's looked doomed. A fourth was added before the end and Tottenham cruised through to a fifth-round meeting with Norwich City.

All in all the FA Youth Cup provides a great way to watch up and coming talent at some of the biggest stadiums in the capital at a fraction of the cost (tickets are never more than £5) so I'd recommend it. 

Lastly this week, I'm pleased to say we've got another ground review piece from our old friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game'. This time they've visited Ryman League club Tooting & Mitcham United. The south Londoners are on a great run at the moment and moved to the top of the Division 1 South on Saturday. You can have a read of their work here and/or watch the accompanying video below:

There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Premier League, EFL, FA Cup 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

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 16 January

Professional Development League
Millwall v Queens Park Rangers @2pm - the U23 game of the day is this London derby which is being played at Bromley's ground in south-east London

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Sporting Bengal United @745pm - the best thing about this game between two clubs from the east side of London is the special reduced admission price of £5. The 'Side are always trying things to get new people in so give them a go if Ilford/Seven Kings is easy for you to get to


Tuesday 17 January

FA Cup Third Round Replays
Crystal Palace v Bolton Wanderers @8pm - for some strange reason tickets for this match are not going on general sale, you must be a member or season-ticket holder. If it's selling like hot cakes then fair enough but I'd be stunned if it is. Anyway, Palace are having a torrid time in the Premier League while Bolton are pushing for promotion from League One. Presumably Sam Allardyce's priority will be top-flight survival so he will probably rest a few players against the club where he initially made his name as a manager
AFC Wimbledon v Sutton United @745pm - the night's other replay, on the other hand, is sold out as two south London rivals from the third and fifth tiers go toe-to-toe again. The first game ended in a 0-0 draw but with home advantage lost, Sutton should go out. The prize of a prestigious and lucrative home tie against Leeds United awaits the winners

National League South
Dartford v Weston-Super-Mare @745pm - with no league game on Saturday, the Darts dropped out of the play-off places but they can get straight back into them with a win against one of the division's strugglers

Middlesex Senior Cup Quarter-Finals
Harrow Borough v Wealdstone @745pm - three of the four quarter-finals are being played on Tuesday and all three are derbies. The Harrow derby is arguably the biggest although it has lost a bit of its edge over recent years, especially since the Stones moved up to the National League South. Boro will start as underdogs but how strong a side the visitors field is open to question
Enfield Town v Hendon @745pm - there's an all Ryman League Premier Division clash at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium where two clubs from the north of town do battle
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Hanworth Villa @745pm - the final derby of the night takes place at the Robert Parker Stadium and features clubs from the Heathrow area

London Senior Cup Second Round
Wingate & Finchley v Cockfosters @745pm - there's another north London derby at Summers Lane. Ninth-tier Cockfosters are on a 10-game unbeaten run so it will be interesting to see how they fare against their seventh-tier hosts

Southern League Division 1 Central
Northwood v Uxbridge @745pm - locked together in midtable on 32 points neither are having a great season but it's still a derby


Wednesday 18 January

Premier League International Cup

Benfica v PSV Eindhoven @7pm - the U23 teams of these two European giants meet at Fulham's Motspur Park training ground for this attractive looking game. Admission prices are unclear at the moment but it won't be more than £5 and could even be free

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Beckenham Town v Crowborough Athletic @745pm - the hosts are having a very disappointing season. The main reason for going to this is to run the rule over Crowborough who currently top the league and are through to the last 16 of the FA Vase making them one of the best ninth-tier sides in the country


Saturday 21 January

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Everton @3pm - the Eagles are desperate for points right now but in Everton they face a side in good form who thrashed Man City 4-0 on Sunday. In recent years these games have been tight with five of the last 10 games ending in draws

Queens Park Rangers v Fulham @1230pm - one of the games of the weekend is this west London derby at Loftus Road. QPR have gone on a three game winning run while the Cottagers have only lost two in 10 so both are in a bit of form. Fulham have dominated this fixture during the 21st century with seven wins from the 10 games taking place since 2000 but they lost the last one in October. The good news is that tickets are on general sale so you can be there

League One
Charlton Athletic v Scunthorpe United @3pm - after drawing with local rivals Millwall on Saturday, the Addicks have another big game against the title challenging Iron

League Two
Barnet v Newport County @3pm - the Bees lost ground on the play-off places following defeat to leaders Doncaster on Saturday but in bottom club Newport they have a great opportunity to bounce back
Leyton Orient v Morecambe @3pm - the O's could find themselves in the relegation zone if they slip up here and with seven defeats from 10 it's quite possible

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Bromley @3pm - the game of the day in this division is this derby. The Daggers are London's top ranked non-league club and a win here against midtable Bromley could put them joint top

National League South
Welling United v Dartford @3pm - after enjoying a fine derby win over Bromley in the FA Trophy on Saturday, the Wings next face even bigger rivals Dartford. Games between these two have drawn decent crowds in recent years and with the sides scrapping for points at either end of the table there's plenty to play for

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Grays Athletic @3pm - there are no real stand-out games in this division so I've gone for this as the hosts are offering reduced admission of £5

Ryman League Division 1 South
Greenwich Borough v Hythe Town @3pm - the pick of the games in the eighth tier pits third against fourth at the DGS Marine Stadium

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Colliers Wood United v Raynes Park Vale @3pm - in a week full of derbies we have another one in south-west London. Often referred to in this blog as the 'A3 Derby' because of the major road linking the two clubs, neither side are having a great year

Combined Counties League Division One
Chessington & Hook United v Worcester Park @3pm - the hosts have become a bit of a yo-yo club in recent years and are in promotion contention again. On Saturday they also have a derby against the former divisional champions


Sunday 22 January

Premier League
Arsenal v Burnley @215pm - the Gunners are doing well at the moment and thrashed bottom club Swansea 4-0 on Saturday. Despite this, they are still only fourth and a whopping eight points behind leaders Chelsea. Consequently they can afford few slip ups if they want to make up the ground. On paper the Clarets should be there for the taking but they've surprised many following promotion and are sitting pretty comfortably in 10th some 10 points clear of the relegation zone
Chelsea v Hull City @430pm - with that game out of the way, the focus moves to west London where the highly impressive league leaders will hope to extend their lead over the chasing pack to 10 points. In struggling Hull they face seemingly perfect opponents but under new boss Marco Silva they picked up their first win for a long time against Bournemouth on Saturday so there could be a bit more fight about them

Kent Senior Trophy Quarter-Final
Cray Valley PM v Lordswood @3pm - the day's non-league alternative can be found in the south-east of town. CVPM are a friendly club and always love to get new visitors so go and say hello

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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