Sunday, 26 November 2017

TLFG: 27 November - 3 December 2017

Unbelievably December is almost upon us but this is a good thing as it means the annual festive football feast is only a few weeks away.

But park that thought as there's still plenty going on between now and then.

One thing to note is that tickets for England's World Cup warm-up game against Italy at Wembley at the end of March go on general sale tomorrow (Monday) at 12pm. Once upon a time that would've been a huge event as two of the Titans of the football world went head-to-head but with the Three Lions' matches lacking excitement and the Azzurri not qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1958, the match has lost a lot of its appeal.

More interestingly there are several derbies this week. Tickets for Watford v Spurs will be very hard to get but you should be able to get one for QPR v Brentford in the Championship and AFC Wimbledon v Charlton in the FA Cup which reaches its second round this weekend.

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I've got some time off next weekend so might get to continue my cup adventures with Leatherhead who travel to League Two side Wycombe Wanderers. To re-cap, a friend's 18-year-old son has just made it into the Tanners' first-team squad and was on the bench for the first round tie and replay against Billericay so if he makes the squad again then Adams Park here we come.

In other news it's been good to hear that the fundraising efforts to keep Dulwich Hamlet afloat have been going well and that fans of other sides, particularly the Clapton Ultras, have also been doing their bit to keep Waltham Forest going so well done to all those involved and keep it up.

Lastly from me I'd like to say a massive thank you to Kelvin W and Paul C who very generously donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund this week. I really appreciate this as a lot of late nights are involved in putting this together every week and the caffeine will come in very handy especially tomorrow when I have to be up for work at 4am!

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include some huge Premier League games, several London derbies and the next rounds of the FA Cup and FA Vase.

As always, 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 (orange 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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




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 27 November

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Brentford @745pm - the week gets underway with one of the biggest London derbies outside the Premier League. Neck-and-neck in midtable, these two near neighbours usually produce a decent contest and the good news is that tickets are still available on general sale if you want to be there

Professional Development League
If you want to gorge yourself on football you could combine the game above with one of three U23 games taking place at lunchtime. QPR and Watford have matches at their respective training grounds which are fairly remote, whilst Charlton play Ipswich at Greenwich Borough's ground which should provide a more comfortable experience - as always, double check the details with the clubs before you travel as these type of fixtures are notoriously subject to change at short notice

Bostik League South Division
Carshalton Athletic v Walton Casuals @745pm - the pick of the non-league action is to be found at Colston Avenue where two of the division's top six will look to close the gap on the leaders

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Tuesday 28 November

Premier League
Watford v Manchester United @8pm - there's a full programme of midweek Premier League fixtures with this the only one in the London area on Tuesday. With a solid 3-0 win at Newcastle on Saturday, the Hornets continue to impress. On home turf they should be more than a match for Jose Mourinho's side

League One
Charlton Athletic v Peterborough United @745pm - tickets for the match above will be very tough to get which means the next best option will be this fixture at The Valley. After coming unstuck at promotion rivals Scunthorpe on Saturday, the Addicks face one of the teams just below them so a win is essential if they want to keep the chasing pack at bay

EFL Trophy
Barnet v Tottenham Hotspur U21 @8pm - after picking up a shock win at Newport County on Tuesday, the Bees returned to losing ways against Grimsby this weekend. Next up is this EFL Trophy group game against Spurs' youngsters. Struggling in this competition too, it will be interesting to see what kind of side Barnet decide to field. Despite being a north London derby, tickets are readily available and cost just £10

National League
Bromley v Aldershot Town @745pm - this was supposed to be played last Tuesday but floodlight failure shortly before the game saw it postponed. As a result, ticket prices for tonight have been reduced and there are special prices for season-ticket holders at pro-clubs. Also, all tickets purchased for the original game will of course be valid as well with a partial refund available on arrival

Bostik League Premier Division
Harrow Borough v Billericay Town @745pm - Boro were just seconds away from an eighth consecutive defeat on Saturday but an injury-time equaliser saw them salvage a 2-2 draw at bottom club Worthing. Next they welcome the team everyone is talking about as Glenn Tamplin brings his expensively assembled squad to HA2. Currently second but with six games in hand on leaders Dulwich, they are still seen by many as title favourites. Paul Konchesky, arguably their biggest name signing, announced his departure from the club last week so it will be interesting to see what impact that has

Evo-Stik League East Division
Hayes & Yeading United v Beaconsfield Town @745pm - there seems to have been nothing but gloom hanging over Hayes in recent years but now it appears things may at last be on the up. Finally into their new ground, they are once again winning games and are up in the top six. On Tuesday they welcome the side in fourth with whom they groundshared for part of last season

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Wednesday 29 November

Premier League
Arsenal v Huddersfield Town @745pm - the Terriers were minutes away from a famous point against leaders Manchester City on Sunday but conceded a late goal to heartbreakingly lose 2-1. The Yorkshire side are clearly a match for anyone on their day and they'll look to give Arsene Wenger's side a run for their money here. The Gunners bounced back from their Europa League loss in Germany with a hard-earned win at Burnley - a result which took them above arch-rivals Spurs and into the top four
Chelsea v Swansea City @745pm - on paper this should be a pretty routine game for the hosts. The reigning champions are highly unlikely to regain their title but are going along well enough in third and should have more than enough to see off Swansea who are winless in six

Bostik League South Division
Cray Wanderers v Ramsgate @745pm - the Wands, founded in 1860, are believed to be the oldest club in London and are currently well in the hunt for a return to the seventh tier. A win here against lowly Ramsgate could propel them into the top three

Surrey Senior Cup First Round
Tooting & Mitcham United v Corinthian Casuals @745pm - these two south London rivals don't play a million miles apart and are only four places apart in the Bostik League - although Tooting are in the division above. Really unlucky not to go up alongside the Terrors last season, Casuals are well on course for another tilt at promotion this time. If the clubs both put out strong sides, it could be interesting

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Thursday 30 November

Premier League International Cup
Arsenal v Reading @7pm - some of the biggest sides in Europe have entered sides in this U23 competition which sees all fixtures played on British soil. We're still at the group stage at the moment which the Gunners began with a win over Porto last week. Next up is a far less glamorous game against the Royals who are currently bottom

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Saturday 2 December

Premier League
Arsenal v Manchester United @530pm - the game of the weekend is this blockbuster between two members of Premier League royalty at the Emirates. Often title deciders in years gone by, these matches have lost a bit of their significance recently as neither side have really challenged for the title. Make no mistake, though, this will still be huge with tickets virtually impossible to come by 
Chelsea v Newcastle United @1230pm - if Jose Mourinho's current club have a bad week then one of his previous ones could be on hand to capitalise and move into second. With very winnable back-to-back home games against Swansea and Newcastle, Chelsea could be three points clear of United by close of play on Saturday
Watford v Tottenham Hotspur @3pm - we're really spoilt for games in the top flight on Saturday with this third option also likely to produce a very competitive encounter. A north London derby of sorts, Watford have the ability to bully more skillful sides into mistakes as they did against Arsenal earlier in the season. After only drawing with struggling West Brom, Spurs will need to be right back on their game to avoid another slip up here

Championship
Brentford v Fulham @3pm - for some reason the EFL authorities have scheduled loads of London derbies together over the course of a week. With Fulham v Millwall last week, QPR v Brentford on Monday and now this match a few days later - they've really crammed them in. Fulham are currently the pick of the bunch when it comes to London clubs in the second tier but at only 12th in the table, that's not saying much. The Cottagers won 2-0 at Griffin Park last season and might edge it this time too. To get a ticket, you must have a previous purchasing history with Brentford - the away allocation is sold out
Millwall v Sheffield United @3pm - this is the best option on offer to any casual visitors to London on Saturday who want to see a game and don't want to pay a king's ransom. It should be a pretty decent game too. Although the Lions aren't doing hugely well, the Blades were top not that long ago and still have automatic promotion very much in their sights

National League
Bromley v Dover Athletic @3pm - none of our local third or fourth tier sides are playing at home on Saturday meaning the focus instead moves to the National League. The title race in this division must be among the most thrilling anywhere in the world with just six points separating the top 10 clubs. As a result, the majority of sides in that leading group have briefly held top spot at some point. Dover were the leaders this time last week but two losses since then have seen them plummet to fifth. Bromley have picked up four points in the same period to move themselves up to eighth
Sutton United v Eastleigh @3pm - it's been a weird old week for the U's who began it by losing at home to the seemingly hopeless bottom club Torquay but ended up going top after winning 2-0 at Guiseley. Eastleigh are also currently plying their trade towards the wrong end of the table so should be beaten but who knows?!!

National League South
Wealdstone v Braintree Town @3pm - after holding one Essex club (Chelmsford) to a draw in the FA Trophy on Saturday, the Stones now have to play another in the league. Braintree got relegated from the fifth tier last season but are on course to go straight back up as they currently find themselves joint top with Dartford. However, they are winless in two in the league so could be vulnerable
Welling United v East Thurrock United @3pm - the Wings bowed out of the FA Trophy at the first hurdle on Saturday but will still start this league match amongst the play-off places. Currently in seventh, they sit just three points and three places above the Rocks

Bostik League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Dulwich Hamlet @3pm - among the promotion contenders for the last few years and both backed by decent support, my initial reaction was to instantly rub my hands and say this is definitely one for the week's guide. However, Enfield have been significantly below their usually much higher standards. Following the departure of their manager to Braintree over the summer, the Towners have failed to get going this year and are way down in 17th at the time of writing. It should be noted that they do have games in hand on most of those above them and they often put together a late run which sees them finish well but they could find things tough against the leaders

Bostik League South Division
Greenwich Borough v Lewes @3pm - third versus first, at the time of writing, this big game in the third tier could have quite a bearing on how the promotion race ends up. Greenwich are said to have spent a lot to get this far but they're now winless in four and will be desperate not to repeat the loss they suffered in last season's play-offs

Evo-Stik League East
Uxbridge v Hayes & Yeading United @3pm - the visitors follow up their tricky midweek encounter with Beaconsfield with this local derby. Actually based more in West Drayton than Uxbridge, the Reds' ground is walkable from the SkyEx Stadium

FA Vase Third Round - this national knockout competition for clubs in the ninth to 11th tiers is now down to its last 64 teams. With Wembley's arch now starting to appear over the horizon, the winners of each tie will receive prize money of £1,125 whilst the losers get £375
Beckenham Town v Eastbourne Town @3pm - given that hundreds of clubs started out on the road to Wembley at the beginning of September, it's a great achievement by the Becks that they've got this far. One of only two clubs who play their games in London still left in the competition, they face a challenging tie against the Yellows who are currently third in the parallel Southern Combination. The visitors are also getting known for the ultras who have begun supporting them over the last couple of years so they could add a decent bit of extra atmosphere to an already important game
Walton & Hersham v Windsor @3pm - in the other tie, the Swans who are third in the Combined Counties welcome Windsor who recently moved to the Hellenic League for the start of this season. The Royalists are currently ninth in their league but have games in hand on all those above them and saw off Erith Town in the last round

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Sunday 3 December

FA Cup Second Round
AFC Wimbledon v Charlton Athletic @2pm - one of the ties of the round, this London derby has been held over until Sunday. Struggling in League One, the Dons will want to give their season a lift with a win against the Addicks who are pushing for promotion. The sides last met a month ago for a league game at The Valley which Charlton won 1-0. The good news is that tickets are available on general sale so fill your boots! (Update - you now need a previous purchasing history to buy tickets for this match)

Fundraiser
Waltham Forest XI v Leyton Pennant XI @2pm - with Waltham Forest facing financial problems a fundraiser for their 'Save Our Club' campaign has been arranged featuring teams of former players and non-league legends. Leyton Pennant was the name Forest went by until 2002/03 - if you were in any doubt. The match is being played at Wadham Lodge and it's 'Pay What You Like' on the gate

FA Women's Super League Cup
Millwall Lionesses v Reading @2pm - there are several women's games in the capital on Sunday but this is marginally the best on offer as it pits Millwall from the FAWSL2 against Reading who play in the top division

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 in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

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