Tuesday 28 August 2018

TLFG: 28 August - 2 September 2018

Well that's it, the summer's over or at least it will be for me come Saturday when September begins.

At one stage it looked as if it was never going to end with high temperatures leaving scorched pitches all over London - many sides were forced to switch pre-season games to neutral venues with artificial surfaces.

But now the temperatures are in decline and the nights are drawing in - September, how very depressing.

Well it would be if we didn't have a host of great football matches to look forward to.

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This week provides us with a full programme of Premier League, EFL, National League, Bostik League, Evo-Stik League games and the opening round of the FA Vase.

That's not to mention some eye-catching U23 games and a couple of women's matches as well.

My week kept me away from football and sadly I couldn't attend my Non-League Day meeting at Prostate Cancer UK (some exciting news came out of it though, so watch this space) and I couldn't get to the Kick It Out event I was meant to go to either.

If I haven't mentioned it before, my wife is set to give birth at the end of October and she's found the last week pretty tough going so most of my engagements have quite rightly fallen by the wayside.

Prostate Cancer UK are the charity partners of Non-League Day - if you have any concerns, get checked out like I did

I guess this is also a heads up that this blog's output could tail off considerably over the coming months so apologies in advance if that is the case. Somehow I managed to keep things going pretty much uninterrupted after my first child arrived in 2013 but with two on the go it could be too much.

Aside from all that, my teams had a pretty decent weekend with QPR's two new loan signings Tomer Hemed and Nakhi Wells both catching the eye in an absolutely priceless 1-0 win over Wigan to move off the bottom of the Championship table.

Harrow Borough, meanwhile, drew 2-2 with high flying Tiverton on Saturday and won 4-2 at local rivals Hendon in the derby on Monday - which means the two clubs have scored a whopping 38 goals over the course of their last seven meetings!

I also received various messages on social media from readers who were trying to maximise their groundhopping opportunities on Monday given the amount of staggered kick-offs.

Some definitely made it to two but did any of you make it to three? Let me know.

I'm set to spend the next few days in St Leonard's near Hastings so am likely to miss out on live football but keep me informed of what you're up to and, as always, enjoy!

There are over 80 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 Vase ties too.

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.

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

Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange 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.

Tuesday 28 August

Carabao Cup Second Round
AFC Wimbledon v West Ham United @745pm -  with the Bank Holiday weekend behind us, we can get stuck into a fine selection of great value EFL cup ties. At this stage of the competition, the surviving Championship, League One and League Two teams are joined in the draw by the Premier League teams not involved in European competition. One of the ties of the round is this London derby at Kingsmeadow. On paper the Dons should start as significant underdogs but the Hammers are struggling already and could be vulnerable. Tickets will be very hard to get without a previous booking history and were close to selling out when I last checked
Fulham v Exeter City @745pm - Exeter did well to see off Ipswich in the first round on penalties and have been rewarded with a trip to Craven Cottage. Adult tickets are only £10 so if you've never been to this unique ground on the banks of the Thames, this is a great opportunity
Queens Park Rangers v Bristol Rovers @745pm - much has been made of the hosts' poor start to the season but the green shoots of recovery are there following a 1-0 win over Wigan on Saturday. QPR also beat Peterborough in the last round who have won all of their League One games so far this season. Rovers are one of the weaker sides in that division so should be beaten but this is QPR so literally anything is possible. Adult tickets are £15
Brentford v Cheltenham Town @745pm - with only one defeat from five in the league, the Bees have made a fine start. Cheltenham are ailing towards the bottom of League Two so not much is expected of them. In this case, standing tickets are only £5 whilst seats are just a tenner

Bostik League South Central
Hanwell Town v Ashford Town (Middlesex) @745pm - with two wins in the league and a victory in the FA Cup, the Geordies have got off to a great start. Fellow west Londoners Ashford have also done pretty well in the league but got dumped out of the cup by Cray Valley on Sunday in one of the upsets of the round

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Balham v Colliers Wood United @730pm - we've got a groundshare derby at the Wibbandune where tenants Balham have a 100% record in the league so far this season. They did, however, come unstuck in the FA Cup on Saturday but should still start as favourites here


Wednesday 29 August

Carabao Cup Second Round
Millwall v Plymouth Argyle @745pm - there's some more bargain bucket cup fun at the New Den on Wednesday night where it's only £10 to watch the Lions take on the Pilgrims for a place in the last 32

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Erith Town v Cray Valley PM @745pm - the best non-league option would appear to be this south-east London derby. Neither side has really got going this season so a win would be very useful for both

UPDATE (29/08/18): thanks to TLFG reader Liam who made me aware of an FA Cup replay taking place tonight (Wednesday) between Sporting Bengal United and Brentwood Town. The hosts did well to hold their higher-ranked opponents to a 1-1 draw at the weekend and were the better side by all accounts. They go again tonight at the Mile End Stadium at 745pm


Friday 31 August

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur @7pm - one of the games of the season in U23 football is taking place at the Emirates Stadium. Sadly, because of the intense rivalry between fans, security is tight and tickets are being strictly controlled - if you're a non-member don't even try

Professional Development League
Watford v Crewe Alexandra @3pm - there won't be any such restrictions earlier in the afternoon where two U23 teams with very little rivalry indeed meet at Wingate & Finchley's ground in north London


Saturday 1 September

Premier League
Chelsea v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - we're only three games into the new season but these two are both impressing. The Blues won at Newcastle on Sunday to extend their 100% record whilst the Cherries have two wins and a draw to also be unbeaten. Since joining the top flight in 2015, Eddie Howe's side have won on two of their three league visits to Stamford Bridge so would appear to be very dangerous opponents
Crystal Palace v Southampton @3pm - after a fine win at Fulham on the opening day the Eagles have gone backwards with two defeats. The Saints, on the other hand, are winless but have found Selhurst Park to be a happy hunting ground in recent years so should fancy their chances
West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers @3pm - if the Hammers lose their midweek cup tie at Wimbledon and extend their 100% losing run, then panic stations could set in. When the fixtures come out, matches against newly promoted sides are usually viewed as winnable ones so if this match against another winless side also goes the wrong way then Manuel Pellegrini, if he hasn't already gone, will be under huge pressure to step down

Brentford v Nottingham Forest @3pm - only a point separates these sides in midtable so we should get a decent contest. A place in the top six could be on the cards for either if they win
Millwall v Swansea City @530pm - over in Bermondsey, last season's surprise package Millwall host the Swans who suffered relegation from the Premier League in May after seven seasons. Unsurprisingly, the Welsh side have made the better start and will want to repeat of the win they achieved here on their last visit during their promotion season in 2011. The late kick off means you can combine this with a visit to nearby non-league side Fisher who have an FA Vase tie against Corinthian

Premier League 2
Fulham v Southampton @1pm - if the match at Fisher doesn't appeal then you could take in this U23 match at Craven Cottage instead where admission is only £3

National League
Sutton United v FC Halifax Town @3pm - now three games without a win, the U's have slipped down to ninth but could get right back into contention with victory here. However, the visitors are currently top so should be tough to beat
Dagenham & Redbridge v Salford City @3pm - the cash-strapped Daggers continue to ail and stayed firmly rooted to the bottom after losing to Barnet on Monday. On Saturday they welcome big spending Salford who, if you don't already know are owned by Man Utd legends the Nevilles, Giggs, Scholes and Butt. They are not, by any means, having it all their own way though with only three wins from seven leaving them in tenth

National League South
Welling United v Oxford City @3pm - the Wings, in seventh, are currently the top London club in this division and are already seven points off title pace. Oxford are just behind them and both need to win to keep in touch with the leading pack

Bostik League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Dorking Wanderers @3pm - the Towners surrendered top spot to Tonbridge after only managing a draw in their derby at Wingate on Monday. The result means they are still unbeaten and looking good but the visit of Dorking, also in the top seven, should be a good test for all involved
Haringey Borough v Worthing @3pm - just down the road, Haringey play Worthing who like Enfield are also in the top three and attracting the biggest crowds in the division (nearly 1,200 on Monday) so hopefully there'll be a decent turnout for this one

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Harrow Borough v Salisbury @3pm - after picking up a 2-2 draw against then leaders Tiverton on Saturday, Boro then recorded an impressive 4-2 win at local rivals Hendon on Monday to climb to tenth. Only top club Weymouth currently better them in the goals scored department and they'll be hoping to score a load more against another one of the giants of the division on Saturday. Salisbury were a sizeable fifth tier club not that long ago but met with financial ruin. This newly formed phoenix club have enjoyed a swift rise back up the divisions and still enjoy sizeable support

Bostik League North
Barking v Romford @3pm - there's an east London derby to enjoy at Mayesbrook Park on Saturday. The hosts have yet to register a point yet this season but they're only two games into their campaign so hopefully not too much can be read into that. Romford have struggled in recent seasons but have managed to maintain their place in the eighth tier but no longer play inside this blog's catchment area after a summer move to groundshare with East Thurrock United

Bostik League South Central
Hayes & Yeading United v Tooting & Mitcham United @3pm - historically, both these clubs are used to playing at much higher levels than this. Both have suffered relegations in recent years with the Terrors suffering one on the final day of last season. If you haven't been to check out H&YU's new ground yet, this is a great opportunity

FA Vase First Qualifying Round
If you missed out on getting your 'Road to Wembley' underway in the FA Cup or are put off by the fact that getting tickets for the semi-finals or final could be tough, then try this far more realistic route which could be far more rewarding. This cup competition is open to clubs in the ninth to 11th tiers of English football and throws up some great ties over the course of the season. The winners of each tie receive £550 and the losers £175. There are lots of ties in London this weekend, here is my pick of what's on offer.

AFC Croydon Athletic v Worthing United @3pm - the Rams are currently joint top of the SCEFL which suggests in theory that they should have a decent chance of making progress into the later stages  of the competition. This tie, against a team struggling badly at the level below, looks like a certain victory for them
Clapton v Woodford Town @3pm - two of the Essex Senior League's top five do battle at the Old Spotted Dog which is the capital's oldest football ground
Walthamstow v Takeley @3pm - two more ESL teams also do battle at Wadham Lodge but in this instance the visitors are top, meaning they too should do well in this season's competition
Enfield Borough v Halstead Town @3pm - this match pits two of the tenth tier's best clubs against each other - the hosts are currently top of the SSML1 whilst Halstead are joint top of the Thurlow Nunn Div 1 South
St Panteleimon v Holmer Green @3pm - one club we don't often cover are 11th tier Middlesex County League side St Panteleimon. They are a club with their roots in the Greek Orthodox community who groundshare with North Greenford United. If they can beat Hellenic League side Holmer Green who play two levels above them, it will provide one of the shocks of the round


Sunday 2 September

Premier League
Watford v Tottenham Hotspur @4pm - not many would've expected this to be a top four clash even with only three games played but that's what this is. Both sides have won their opening three games so should approach this derby with some confidence. Spurs, however, are in theory the better side and haven't lost at Vicarage Road since 1987 so are somewhat of a bogey team for the Hornets

Professional Development League
Millwall v Bolton Wanderers @1pm - elsewhere there's a spot of U23 football going on at Millwall's training ground but that will probably mean you won't be able to get in. Check if this is the case or if any of the details have changed by visiting the club's website nearer the time UPDATE (30/08/18): this match is now being played at The Den following the Junior Lions Fun Day and is free entry for everyone (there is a charge for the fun day)

FA Vase First Qualifying Round
Aside from the matches above, there are also two decent looking Vase ties on Sunday with Southall hosting the recently renamed Reading City from the Hellenic League and Erith & Belvedere playing fellow SCEFL club Rusthall - both matches kick-off at 3pm


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!

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

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