Sunday, 5 August 2018

TLFG: 6-12 August 2018

Well we're finally underway - or many of us are anyway.

With the FA Community Shield behind us and the opening day of the EFL and National League complete - the new season is alive and kicking.

I know quite a few of you followed the tip last week and nabbed tickets for Sunday's big game at Wembley between Chelsea and Manchester City.

But that wasn't all with people heading out to watch Millwall and even Brentford B down at the Bees' training ground.

Where did you go?

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It's been another quiet week for me on the football watching front but I'm all set to head to Sheffield next weekend for a Non-League Day planning meeting ahead of the FA Cup tie between Hallam and Runcorn Linnets at the oldest football ground in the world.

Are you planning on attempting the FA Cup 'Road to Wembley' this season? Have you completed it before?

Getting to matches in the early rounds is a great experience and shows you just how important this competition is to clubs at non-league level.

The Saudi Super Cup returns to Loftus Road on 18 August

In other news - we love an exotic match here at TLFG and I'm pleased to announce, if you didn't already know, that QPR will be hosting the Saudi Super Cup again on Saturday 18 August at 630pm.

Saudi league champions Al Hilal will play cup holders Al Ittihad for the glittering trophy at Loftus Road on what should be an entertaining evening.

When the prices were initially released, the vast majority were at the eye-watering price of £65 with many at even higher prices.

However, it appears these have been revised and now many are available at a much more reasonable £35. Book your tickets here.

A big thank you this week to TLFG reader Kevin M from Hertfordshire who made a generous donation to the TLFG coffee-drinking fund - it's much appreciated.

Right, that's it from me - I'm out of time and need to get ready for another early start at work tomorrow.

Enjoy your week!
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THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days as the Premier League finally gets underway. The other highlights include the opening fixtures in the Bostik and Evo-Stik Leagues and the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round.

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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black 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 6 August

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Sporting Bengal United @745pm - get your week underway with an east London derby. The Side are still at Cricklefields in Ilford and began their season with a 0-0 draw at Hullbridge. Sporting saw their opening game postponed so this will be their first match of the new campaign

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Erith Town v Glebe @745pm - the Dockers suffered a disappointing 4-2 defeat at K Sports on the opening day and will hope to put that behind them as they prepare to host their first competitive game back at the Erith Stadium. Glebe will be hoping to do well this year and began with a solid 3-1 win over Tunbridge Wells

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Tuesday 7 August

Friendly
Chelsea v Lyon @805pm - after losing to Manchester City in the FA Community Shield on Sunday, the Blues host Les Gones in their final warm-up match ahead of the new Premier League season.Tickets are available to non-members so if you haven't been to Stamford Bridge, this is a great opportunity

National League
Bromley v Dover Athletic @745pm - there's a huge night of action in the NL with five of our local sides playing at home. This match is a Kent derby between last season's FA Trophy runners-up and a side who missed out on a play-off spot on goal difference. Both started with defeats on Saturday so will want to see an improvement here
Dagenham & Redbridge v Maidstone United @745pm - the Daggers come into this season with financial worries and will be hoping for a bumper crowd as the Stones make the short trip up from Kent. With 2,599 flowing through the turnstiles for their match against Hartlepool, Maidstone recorded the biggest attendance in the division on Saturday
Leyton Orient v Ebbsfleet United @745pm - the biggest attendance of the night, however, could well come at Brisbane Road where the O's also host another well-supported team from Kent. Neither managed a win on Saturday but Orient will probably be more than happy with the point they got at Salford City

National League South
Dartford v Chelmsford City @745pm - the Darts topped the table for many weeks last season but sickeningly missed out on the one automatic promotion place on goal difference, whilst Chelmsford finished third. Both sides then failed in the play-offs with sixth placed Braintree ultimately coming out on top. Dartford won their opening game and will hope to win again to keep pace with newly promoted Billericay who are looking ominously good already
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Hemel Hempstead Town @745pm - in the other game of the night, the sides who finished fourth and fifth last season also meet again. Hampton made it to the play-off final but lost on penalties. Since then they've brought in Gary McCann as manager from Hendon and they'll be looking to challenge again

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Banstead Athletic v Spelthorne Sports @745pm - based solely on the opening day's results, this is the top match of the night in the CCLPD. Both managed convincing wins and come into this in the top five

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Stansfeld v Bridon Ropes @745pm - London sides fill the top six spots in the division after one game and these are two of them

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Broadfields United v Harefield United @745pm - we've got a groundshare derby to enjoy at Preston Park between sides who both enjoyed comfortable wins on the opening day

Thurlow Nunn League Division 1 South
Hashtag United v Hackney Wick @745pm - the controversial Hashtag United prepare to host their first game against the Wickers up at Haringey Borough's ground

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Wednesday 8 August

National League South

Dulwich Hamlet v East Thurrock United @745pm - after losing to Welling in their first game at this new higher level, the Hamlet take on the Rocks at Tooting & Mitcham's ground in what should be a more winnable game

Essex Senior League
Leyton Athletic v Tower Hamlets @745pm - formerly known as Wadham Lodge, Leyton Athletic play their first home game since re-naming themselves

Friendly
Chelsea Women v Juventus Femminile @7pm - the Blues play their last friendly against top Italian opposition in readiness for their season opener against Crystal Palace next week

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Friday 10 August

Premier League 2
Fulham v Manchester United @7pm - the weekend begins with a very interesting looking U23 match at the Cottagers' Motspur Park training ground. Adult tickets are £3 on the gate

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Saturday 11 August

Premier League
Fulham v Crystal Palace @3pm - the Premier League gets underway in London with this derby at Craven Cottage. The hosts won the Championship play-offs last season to get back into the top flight after an absence of three seasons. Palace started terribly last year but finished well under Roy Hodgson and could well start this as favourites
Watford v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - given Brighton's close proximity to London, this match is effectively a derby too. Both sides did really well to avoid the drop last season and will both attempt to further consolidate their position at football's top table for another year

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield United @3pm - Steve McClaren's reign as QPR manager started with a 1-0 defeat at Preston on Saturday - not a great result but far from disastrous as the west London club look begin an important season with a squad built heavily on young talents like Eberechi Eze and Paul Smyth. United impressed many last season after promotion from League One but they too came unstuck on Saturday against Swansea

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Coventry City @3pm - the Dons had a pretty decent pre-season and began with a fine 1-0 away win at Joey Barton's Fleetwood Town on Saturday. Next up they face the newly promoted Sky Blues who are one of the biggest clubs in the division - unsurprisingly they've already sold out their allocation of tickets
Charlton Athletic v Shrewsbury Town @3pm - the Shrews defeated Charlton in last season's League One play-offs so there will be a bit of a score to settle here

National League
Leyton Orient v Barrow @3pm - at the time of writing, Barrow are the division's early pacesetters so they could provide a very stern test for the O's
Sutton United v Salford City @3pm - the U's made it to the National League play-offs last season and will want to at least repeat that again this time round. On Saturday they welcome big spending Salford who have made huge strides up the divisions in recent years following the high profile take over by Manchester United legends the Nevilles, Butt, Scholes and Giggs - a big crowd should be guaranteed

National League South
Dartford v Hemel Hempstead Town @3pm - two of the division's seemingly perennial challengers meet again as both sides begin their seasons with a very challenging set of fixtures

Bostik League Premier Division
Haringey Borough v Bognor Regis Town @3pm - our local seventh and eighth tier teams begin their seasons on Saturday too. Up at Coles Park, Haringey get ready to play their first game at this level for a long time having enjoyed play-off success last season. They begin with a tough match against Bognor who have just come down from the National League South
Kingstonian v Brightlingsea Regent @3pm - after a year groundsharing at Leatherhead, it's great to welcome back the K's into the TLFG fold. Now sharing with Corinthian Casuals in Tolworth, they're back in the borough they come from so hopefully they'll get some bigger crowds

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Harrow Borough v Weymouth @3pm - after many decades in the Isthmian (now Bostik) League, Harrow are one of a handful of teams who have rather unwillingly been shunted over into the Southern (Evo-Stik) League as part of the FA's major overhaul of football at this level. Supposedly done to make leagues more regional and cut down travelling for cash-strapped teams, the opposite effect has been well and truly inflicted on Boro, Hendon, Met Police, Staines and Walton Casuals who will now all face trips to Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and even Wales. While these are all fantastic places, the financial burden will be significant. Harrow's first game in this league will be against one of its biggest and best sides who will no doubt bring a decent following

Bostik League South East Division
Greenwich Borough v Cray Wanderers @3pm - the hosts have spent big and fallen short in both of the last two seasons. Local rivals Cray finished as runners-up last season but also failed in the play-offs so you would expect both to challenge for honours in this newly created division

Bostik League South Central
Uxbridge v Westfield @3pm - this game, for me, is all about the visitors. The Woking-based club romped to the Combined Counties League title and it will be interesting to see how they fare at the higher level. With a decent bit of investment behind them, they could be ones to watch

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
If you're planning on undertaking a trip along the mythical 'Road to Wembley' this season then you need to get started at some point this weekend. There are over 170 ties being played all over the country between Friday and Sunday with many taking place in the London area. The FA Cup is hugely important to non-league sides with the prize money on offer being considerable for clubs at this level - the winners of each of these matches will earn £2,250 whilst the losers will get £750. It's really hard to single out which ties to watch at this stage but here are a few which catch my eye

Beckenham Town v Colliers Wood United @3pm - the Becks have enjoyed a bit of investment over the last year and had a good season last year. They began with a win on Saturday and should fancy themselves against a team from south-west London who had a very poor opening day
Croydon v Tunbridge Wells @3pm - sadly overshadowed by near neighbours Crystal Palace, the Trams will want to do well against the 2013 FA Vase finalists
London Lions v Wembley @3pm - there's a north London derby at the well appointed Rowley Lane in Borehamwood - and what better way to start your 'Road to Wembley' than by watching Wembley FC
Spelthorne Sports v Peacehaven & Telscombe @3pm - the hosts enjoyed a fantastic start to their campaign on Saturday and welcome P&T who were Isthmian League contenders not all that long ago before the money dried up and they returned to this level
Sporting Bengal United v Ilford @3pm - we've got an east London derby at the Mile End Stadium. Ilford were one of the greatest non-league sides in the country at one time, winning the FA Amateur Cup twice in the inter-war years
Walthamstow v Walsham le Willows @3pm - the home team (formerly Waltham Forest) take part in their first FA Cup tie since re-naming themselves so this is an historic occasion

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Sunday 12 August

Premier League
Arsenal v Manchester City @4pm - talking of historic occasions, this match will be the first for the Gunners without manager Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman finally departed at the end of last season to be replaced by Spaniard Unai Emery. Pre-season has gone well with three wins and two draws from their five games so they should feel reasonably confident of putting up a decent fight against Pep Guardiola's reigning Premier League champions. City beat Chelsea in the FA Community Shield on Sunday so will still start as favourites

Premier League 2
Chelsea v Everton @1pm - tickets for the match at the Emirates will be very hard and/or expensive to get hold of but there's an excellent alternative for neutrals at Stamford Bridge where this U23 game should be worth a watch. Adult tickets are £5

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Cray Valley PM v Eastbourne Town @3pm - CVPM have made the last two London Senior Cup finals, winning one. However, they've struggled in the FA Cup where getting past this round is something they've only achieved on three occasions. The visitors have a growing following, swelled mainly by a couple of groups of ultras who will no doubt turn out for this big occasion
Southall v Levertock Green @3pm - the hosts won the SSML Division 1 last season despite having to groundshare out at Burnham. This season they've moved closer to their roots to share with Ashford Town near Heathrow. It will be interesting to see how they get on against a fellow ninth-tier team
Sutton Common Rovers v CB Hounslow United @3pm - if I was around I'd go to this all CCL affair at Sutton United's Gander Green Lane. My friend's son, striker Kristian Wynter, has just broken into the squad at SCR so hopefully he'll get a game

Women's Charity Trophy
FA Women's National League XI v England All-Stars XI @2pm - some of the stars of the past and present of the women's game do battle at Boreham Wood with the proceeds going to the Grenfell Foundation


A bit further afield
St Margaretsbury v Enfield 1893 @2pm - TLFG reader Kevin M got in touch earlier in the week to big up the merits of this FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie taking place just north of London in Hertfordshire. Easily reached by train from Liverpool Street, this is a fine option for groundhoppers

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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 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!

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