Monday 20 August 2018

TLFG: 20-27 August 2018

Welcome one and all to the August Bank Holiday Special of TLFG.

This week's guide covers the next eight days so as to include the Bank Holiday which is jam packed with non-league action.

The three days of the weekend will see 90 matches played and that increases to 95 if you include Friday night as well. Yes you read that right - 95 matches over four days!!!

On Saturday it will be possible to do a groundhop 'double' because of an 11am kick-off in the FA Cup whilst on Monday you'll be able to do a triple with all Combined Counties games starting at 1130am and the Essex Senior League match at Barkingside getting underway at 745pm. Which match you choose to sandwich in between at 3pm is up to you but there are loads to choose from.

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So what have you been up to this week?

Did anyone make it to the Saudi Super Cup at Loftus Road on Saturday evening?

Despite the high prices, a close to capacity crowd turned out to watch Al-Hilal beat Al-Ittihad. The atmosphere during their 2-1 win was said to have been great so I'd be interested to hear if you went along and what you made of it.

The biggest game of the weekend saw Chelsea edge to a 3-2 win over Arsenal whilst up at Wembley, Spurs won again in fairly comfortable fashion against Fulham. There was also a good win for Watford at Burnley whilst West Ham came unstuck again at home to Bournemouth.

Kick It Out is celebrating it's 25th anniversary this year
The main story of the week for me was the abysmal 7-1 thrashing suffered by QPR against West Brom at The Hawthorns. The result left them firmly rooted to the bottom of the Championship table with three defeats from three. Strangely, they had managed a fairly comfortable win over League One leaders Peterborough in the Carabao Cup in midweek with a 'weakened' team - maybe a few more of them should get a run out against Bristol City on Tuesday!

I've now got two weeks off but my chances of seeing a live game are fairly remote as I'll be heading off to some remote footballing blackspots and probably won't get to see anything but you never know.

Non-League Day is gathering pace and I have a planning meeting with our charity partner Prostate Cancer UK and sports broadcasting supremo Caroline Barker on Tuesday about a possible launch event. I'll also hopefully make it to the 'Kick It Out Live' event in Stratford on Thursday too as the anti-discrimination charity celebrates its 25th anniversary year.

Have a great eight days and let me know what you get up to. Enjoy!

There are over 120 matches in and around the London area over the next eight days with the Premier League and EFL dominating proceedings but there are also a number of FA Cup Preliminary Round ties and a load of non-league derbies.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or the venue or kick-off time has changed - this is highly possible for some of the lower non-league clubs. 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.

Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin

Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin
Monday fixtures - yellow pin

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 20 August

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Liverpool @8pm - the week's football gets underway with this big televised clash. These games are often corkers played in front of a packed house with a great atmosphere. Since returning to the top flight in 2013 they've met six times in all competitions at Selhurst Park and 23 goals have been scored. The Reds have won four of these games and will start as favourites again

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Brighton & Hove Albion @7pm - your chances of getting a ticket for the match above are slim so, as a neutral, your next best option is probably this U23 game at the Emirates Stadium. Tickets are only £4 for adults but must be bought in advance (online sales end at 3pm) - do not arrive at the ground without one

Professional Development League
There are four other U23 games dotted around the capital earlier in the day but at the time of writing all were set to be played at the clubs' training grounds. It is often the case that the public are not admitted in these circumstances but check with each team's website on Monday morning for the latest information

Velocity Trophy Preliminary Round
Aveley v Hanwell Town @745pm - the best non-league option is in the opening round of what is effectively the Bostik/Isthmian League Cup. Hanwell have only joined the league this summer so it's quite possible that these two have never played before but I could be totally wrong

Tuesday 21 August

Queens Park Rangers v Bristol City @745pm - many thought QPR would struggle this season but after Saturday's 7-1 thrashing at West Brom made it three defeats from three games, things look far worse than I imagined. The games are coming thick and fast at the moment and that's possibly a good thing for Rangers who have an immediate chance to put things right. City are also winless from three and haven't won at Loftus Road since 1977

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Walsall @745pm - after three games both of these sides are unbeaten and are sitting pretty in the division's top eight. The clubs have only ever played four times and have a home and an away win each so they couldn't be much more even
Charlton Athletic v Peterborough United @745pm - the Addicks have managed four points from their opening fixtures and face their toughest match yet as leaders and 100% record holders Posh pay them a visit

Brentford B v AFC Bournemouth U23 @7pm - the Bees' first XI have made a fine start to the new campaign but it's also well worth watching their second string who frequently line up some very entertaining friendlies. This one is taking place at Griffin Park and it's free to get in

Velocity Trophy First Round
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Hayes & Yeading United @745pm - my non-league pick of the night is this cup match between sides who hail from either side of Heathrow Airport. My gut tells me that because they've been in different leagues for a long time, this could be a first competitive meeting for some time but again I could be wrong


Wednesday 22 August

Southern Counties East League Premier Division

Croydon v AFC Croydon Athletic @745pm - it wasn't hard to pick the match of the day on Wednesday as it's derby time down at the Croydon Arena


Friday 24 August

Premier League 2
Chelsea v Derby County @7pm and West Ham United v Arsenal @7pm - after a day of rest we've got one of the busiest Friday night schedules of London football I can remember with these U23 games at Stamford Bridge and the London Stadium topping the bill. Tickets are £5 for adults but must be bought in advance. All sales for Chelsea end at 4pm on the day of the game, for West Ham it is not clear but do not attend either match without a ticket

Bostik League Premier Division
Kingstonian v Dorking Wanderers @745pm - with only one point from three games, the K's will look to pick up a first win at their new home against fellow Surrey opposition

FA Cup Preliminary Round
What is effectively the second round of the FA Cup gets underway on Friday night. There are two ties in the London area with Tooting & Mitcham United hosting Horley Town in a match that they should win. With ground development works ongoing, Basildon based club Bowers & Pitsea have moved their tie against Barking to Aveley's ground so it now falls within this blog's catchment area. Both games kick off at 745pm and should be no more than a tenner to get in


Saturday 25 August

Premier League
Arsenal v West Ham United @3pm - only two games have been played but there's already unease at these two clubs as they've both lost both and are in the bottom four. The Gunners are going through a big transition phase after offloading Arsene Wenger, their boss of over 20 years, whilst West Ham have brought in a Premier League winning manager to end their struggles and aren't getting instant results. It's a big game for both sets of fans

Queens Park Rangers v Wigan Athletic @3pm - Rangers play their second of three consecutive home fixtures against last season's League One champions. The 2013 FA Cup winners are now back in the second tier after a few seasons of struggle and they've made a positive start with four points from their opening three games

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Sunderland @3pm - the Dons face what will probably be their biggest match of the season on Saturday when the biggest club in the division head to Kingsmeadow. After back-to-back relegations, former Premier League side Sunderland now find themselves in League One but they've got off to an unbeaten start and drew a crowd of almost 30,000 as they beat Scunthorpe on Sunday. Given Wimbledon's tiny ground capacity, tickets for this are long gone
Charlton Athletic v Fleetwood Town @3pm - these two are currently neck-and-neck in midtable with almost identical records so it should be close. One of the most notable things about Fleetwood is that they are managed by the often controversial Joey Barton

National League
Sutton United v AFC Fylde @3pm - in terms of form, this should be the game of the day in the fifth tier with two of the top four going head-to-head. If results go their way, one of them could go top

National League South
Wealdstone v Concord Rangers @3pm - with only one defeat from their opening five games, the Stones have made a good start to the new campaign and have climbed to fifth accordingly. On Saturday they welcome Essex outfit Concord who are currently joint top with Billericay

FA Cup Preliminary Round
After a few games on Friday night, the bulk of the ties take place on Saturday with quite a few seventh tier teams entering at this stage following the big non-league restructure. FA Cup ties are hugely important for non-league clubs as the prize money on offer is significant for teams of their size. The winners of each Preliminary Round tie earn £2,890 each whilst the losers get £960. There are numerous ties in London on Saturday but here are a few which I think are worth a mention.

The most notable event of the round is the doubleheader taking place at Parkside where FC Romania play Grays Athletic at 11am before Aveley take on Potters Bar Town at 3pm. If you wish to see both, you'll have to leave and re-enter the ground between ties and pay full price for both. If you just want to see the first one then you should have about two hours to get to a second game somewhere else which gives you loads of options.

On the other side of town, Balham will be eyeing a cupset when they entertain Thamesmead Town. The south London club are currently top of the Combined Counties League having won all their games whilst their opponents are toiling towards the foot of the level above them.

Probably the biggest club on show at this stage are Bostik Premier club Lewes who travel to Molesey. The Rooks were playing in the eighth tier last season so have to come in a round earlier than normal and will be expected to beat the Moles. 

Spartan South Midlands League Division One
Enfield Borough v Risborough Rangers @3pm - the Panthers got off to scorching start last season before fading and finishing tenth. This season they've moved to groundshare with Wingate & Finchley and have started well again, topping the division after five games. Risborough are usually among the challengers and are fourth

Southern Counties East League Division One
FC Elmstead v Welling Town @3pm - the Cocks have also embarked on a new groundshare this season, swapping Holmesdale for Sutton Athletic over in Swanley. Currently in sixth, they've made a decent enough start but next welcome 'The Boots' who are a new to this level and taking it by storm winning all four of their games so far


Sunday 26 August

Premier League
Watford v Crystal Palace @130pm - a derby gets the action underway at lunchtime on Sunday. At the time of writing, both sides have won all their matches this season so are looking good. However, they've only played three games between them and all have been against sides they would fancy themselves to beat. This is a tough one to call but should provide an entertaining enough spectacle
Fulham v Burnley @4pm - following on neatly behind them we have this game in SW6 where pretty much the opposite is the case with the sides only accruing one point between them from their four games. This is the Cottagers' first season back in the top flight following promotion and they'll be targeting this as a must-win game. It's also a big season for the Clarets who stunned everyone last year by qualifying for the Europa League - they'll be desperate to try and sustain those levels of performance again but it's going to be tough.
Please note, although tickets are on general sale for both, don't think you'll be able to attend both as the grounds are about 15 miles (23km) apart and the travel time between them is substantial - you might catch the second half of the Fulham game if you're lucky

FA Cup Preliminary Round
Cray Valley PM v Ashford Town (Middlesex) @3pm - the weekend's FA Cup action concludes with some inter-league action in south-east London. The visitors play one level above their hosts so should start as favourites

FA Continental Tyres Cup
The women's season continues with some more ties in this competition. Chelsea, the top women's side in the country, travel to The Hive to play London Bees whilst there's a derby at VCD Athletic's ground between Charlton and Millwall - both games kick-off at 2pm


Monday 27 August
The August Bank Holiday sees non-league football take centre stage with a huge selection of games, many of them derbies, played throughout the day - it's very easy to see three if you're a groundhopping nut

National League
Barnet v Dagenham & Redbridge @3pm - the biggest derby in this division takes place at The Hive. The Bees got relegated from the EFL last season and have not responded at all well to life back in the fifth tier taking just two points from their first five matches. The Daggers, who are struggling financially, are in an even worse position with just a point to their name so this is looking like a relegation six-pointer already

Bostik League Premier Division 
Kingstonian v Corinthian Casuals @3pm - these sides have both played in the same borough for years but have rarely been at the same level so games have been few and far between. This season is a totally different story as not only are they now in the same division but they're also groundsharing at Casuals' ground in Tolworth
Wingate & Finchley v Enfield Town @3pm - having seen old rivals Harrow Borough and Hendon shunted off to the Evo-Stik League, Wingate's only derbies are now against Enfield and newly promoted Haringey. The Summers Lane club have overachieved greatly in recent seasons producing fine sides that have challenged for the play-offs despite having some of the smallest crowds in the division. Enfield are usually among the frontrunners and, after an underwhelming 2017-18, are back in the top five spearheading the challenge from London clubs

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Hendon v Harrow Borough @3pm - having both already experienced lengthy trips to the West Country in their opening games to clubs neither of them were used to playing, it will come as rather a relief to come up against each other in this derby. The Greens, beaten Bostik League play-off finalists, have made an unbeaten start to go fourth whilst Harrow, despite winning only once, are scoring for fun and are joint top of the goal charts alongside leaders Tiverton and third placed Merthyr. If it's entertainment you want, this is the derby for you - the last six matches between these two have produced a staggering 32 goals

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Grays Athletic @3pm - simply put, this is an Essex derby between clubs who groundshare and who are both currently in the top six

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Abbey Rangers v Guildford City @1130am - one of the great things about Bank Holidays is that the CCL usually give all their games a morning kick-off allowing groundhoppers to fill their boots. This game isn't a derby as such but it does feature two of the top five and gets top billing in this division

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Southend Manor @745pm - if you do attempt a groundhop triple, wherever your day takes you, it should end up here in Ilford as it's the only evening kick-off I'm aware of. Located a short walk from Seven Kings station, it's easy enough to get to and you'll be given a warm welcome by a club who are always looking to get new people through the gate

Combined Counties League Division One
Bedfont & Feltham v British Airways @3pm - it seems rather apt that the newly promoted BA team should spend their first season at this level groundsharing with B&F whose ground lies just 600 metres from the runway at Heathrow Airport. They've found their opening games to be a bit turbulent and they're likely to have another challenging afternoon here as their landlords are top

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.

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!

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