Monday, 2 January 2017

TLFG: 3-8 January 2017

Hello there and welcome to the first TLFG of 2017.

How was the festive period for you? Did you get to gorge on games? It was easily possible to see four,five or even more games over the last couple of weeks - did you manage it? What were your highlights?

Personally, I made it to the north-west London derby between Hendon and Harrow Borough at the Greens' new Silver Jubilee Park ground on Boxing Day.

Although still lacking a club shop and tea bar, the ground is compact, well kept and has a 3G surface which guaranteed the game would go ahead.

Bathed in winter sunshine and overlooked by a hill topped with an eye-catching £20m Hindu temple, the game got off to a frantic start.

Joshua Webb scores from the penalty spot for Harrow to make it 4-4

Last year's reciprocal fixture at Earlsmead saw the sides fight out a thrilling 5-5 draw and when this game saw its first goal after only a few seconds a repeat looked very possible.

It looked a near certainty when half-time was reached with another six goals on the scoreboard and the hosts with a 4-3 lead.

Boro came out undeterred and dominated the second period, scoring only another two to win 5-4.

Not only was the scoreline remarkable but it also saw Harrow record their first Boxing Day victory since 1989, while I'm told Hendon are still to win a league game at their new home during a season of struggle.

Elsewhere in London football news, Chelsea have continued to dominate proceedings in the Premier League while Olivier Giroud made all the headlines for Arsenal against Crystal Palace with what I can only describe as his fluke/wonder goal which has probably been seen millions of times since it went in on Sunday afternoon.

Apart from the two important midweek Premier League games at Crystal Palace and Tottenham, the rest of the week should be dominated by the third round of the FA Cup.

All the Premier League and Championship sides enter the draw at this stage so things start to get serious.

There are one or two cracking ties and several more average ones but tickets are still available for most of them, with prices generally far lower than normal so give it a try.

I'd also like to give an extra mention to non-league side Sun Sports who have made it to the last 32 of the FA Vase for the first time. On Saturday they host Bromsgrove Sporting who are one of the largest clubs left in the competition. It's arguably the biggest match in the Watford club's history so think about giving this some of your time if you're undecided about where to go. 

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are 70 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the FA Cup, EFL, National League, FA Vase 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).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
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.

Tuesday 3 January

Premier League 
Crystal Palace v Swansea City @745pm - a huge game in the battle to avoid relegation. The last meeting, a little over a month ago, produced a thrilling 5-4 win for the Swans

Ryman League Division 1 North
Thurrock v AFC Hornchurch @745pm - an Essex derby featuring sides who have realistic title and play-off ambitions respectively

Essex Senior League
Clapton v Basildon United @745pm - the Tons are having their best season for several years and have climbed to the heady heights of third. Sadly the Ultras are still in dispute with the club over an increase in admission prices and are boycotting games which means attendances have fallen from around 350 to no more than 50.

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Wednesday 4 January

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea @745pm - one of the biggest London derbies going as north plays west. It also features two sides in great form, however, it should be noted that Tottenham have only won one of their last 15 games against the Blues

Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy
Wadham Lodge v Sawbridgeworth Town @745pm - the only non-league alternative is this cup match a short distance to the east

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Friday 6 January

FA Cup Third Round

West Ham United v Manchester City @755pm - the third round, when all the Premier League and Championship teams enter the draw, gets underway with this great looking tie. At the time of writing, tickets still seem to be available on general sale

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Saturday 7 January

FA Cup Third Round
Watford v Burton Albion @3pm - the FA Cup provides groundhoppers and visitors a great chance to get hold of tickets often at discounted prices. This game is no exception with adult tickets priced at just £10
Millwall v Bournemouth @3pm - there's another chance to see a top-flight team at The Den where tickets are £25
Queens Park Rangers v Blackburn Rovers @3pm - back-to-back league wins over Wolves and Ipswich have suddenly raised spirits at Loftus Road and struggling Rovers should be beatable too. Tickets £15
Brentford v Eastleigh @3pm - the Bees welcome one of the few non-league teams remaining in the competition so will start as overwhelming favourites. Tickets from £10
Sutton United v AFC Wimbledon @3pm - despite featuring sides from the fifth and third tiers, this is arguably the game of the day in the capital as two old rivals meet in the FA Cup. The match is generating huge interest in south London. The last few tickets go on general sale at 10am on 3 January

League Two
Leyton Orient v Barnet @3pm - it's derby day at the Matchroom Stadium where two teams in need of points at either end of the table do battle

National League
Bromley v Forest Green Rovers @3pm - the Ravens welcome title contenders FGR to Hayes Lane on Saturday but the former leaders' form has dropped off drastically of late and they are now winless in six

National League South
Dartford v East Thurrock United @3pm - these clubs look at each other, metaphorically, across the Thames with only a short journey over the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge separating them. ETU are new to the division and are holding their own remarkably well considering their relatively small supporter base
Wealdstone v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - a bigger crowd is expected at Grosvenor Vale where the Stones welcome the best supported side in the division

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v AFC Sudbury @3pm - if you haven't been to check out the Towners so far this season, now could be a good time. With only one defeat in 12, they've hauled themselves firmly into play-off contention once again

Ryman League Division 1 South
Corinthian Casuals v Lewes @3pm - the hosts suffered disappointment on Monday against Tooting but stayed in the play-off places. On Saturday they welcome the Rooks who are far too big a club to be playing at this level. Only four points separate the sides so it should be close

FA Vase Fourth Round
Sun Sports v Bromsgrove Sporting @3pm - things are getting serious in this competition where we're now down to our last 32 teams. This match is quite possibly the biggest in Sun Sports' history. Not only is it quite an achievement to have made it this far but in Sporting they face the reincarnation of Bromsgrove Rovers who were one of the best sides in non-league football in the '90s and competed in the Southern League until poor finances finished them off in 2010. Consequently, according to Wikipedia, Sporting are now the best supported side in Step 6 so should bring a sizeable following

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Hanworth Villa v Westfield @3pm - with leaders Hartley Wintney romping to the title, it's all about the battle to be runners-up with these two currently second and third

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Wembley v Hertford Town @3pm - despite numerous games in hand, a tilt at the title is probably beyond sixth-placed Wembley but they could very conceivably finish second especially if they can beat the team who currently occupy that spot

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Kent Football United v Rusthall @2pm - third plays first in this important early kick-off in the SCEFL
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Sunday 8 January

FA Cup Third Round
Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa @4pm - until this season, this would've been one of the standout ties of the round but Villa got relegated in May and have found the waters of the Championship a little choppy. Nonetheless, this is still a sell out so there should be a good atmosphere
Chelsea v Peterborough United @3pm - on paper the Premier League leaders should beat their League One opponents with ease but they've come unstuck in similar fixtures before with Bradford notching a famous victory at Stamford Bridge in 2015. This match is officially sold out too


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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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