Sunday, 23 September 2018

TLFG: 24-30 September 2018

It's almost the end of September and this weekend has definitely made me feel summer's gone and autumn's firmly on the way.

I did see mention of a few games falling by the wayside but generally most continued but it's something we'll have to get used to as the weeks progress.

Again it's been another non-event on the football watching side of things for me. To be honest, I probably spend most of my free time working on this blog and the preparations for Non-League Day (NLD) which seems a bit strange when you think about it.

Talking of NLD, the National League, Vanarama and Prostate Cancer UK officially launched their charity partnership at the Eastleigh v Dagenham & Redbridge game on Saturday lunchtime. I was invited to go along and pose for a photo or two but work got in the way and I couldn't make it which was a shame.

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There's now less than three weeks to go until this year's Non-League Day
As we get closer to the day, things will get pretty hectic as I try, with help from some great volunteers, to get everything in place and answer any late queries or do the odd interview - I did one for Germany's national broadcaster ARD on Friday. There is also the chance of two or three partnerships coming through before the day too but I'm always wary of how to play these as as soon as money becomes involved, things get complicated. 

NLD is always self funded, with one or two of my team also chipping in. The annual cost is incurred almost totally by our website design, hosting and maintenance costs - everything else is achieved by simply asking for favours or working contacts. To be clear, I have never made a penny and have actually put quite a bit into it since 2010. With my circumstances having changed since I set up the day and with another child imminent, the costs are starting to become an issue so having some kind of partnership which could cover those fairly minimal costs would be really helpful. Let's see what happens over the next week or two...


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with the Premier League and Championship taking centre stage. There are also a few ties in the opening round of the FA Trophy.

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 24 September

Professional Development League
Charlton Athletic v Watford @2pm - the Addicks' youngsters have only managed to win one of their six games so far this season but they'll fancy their chances against the Hornets who haven't won any at all. This game is scheduled to be played at Greenwich Borough's ground but with persistent rain over the weekend, it will be well worth checking if any of the match arrangements have changed before you set off

London Senior Cup First Round
Tower Hamlets v Hackney Wick @745pm - two of the lower ranked teams in the competition meet for an east London derby (although don't expect a big crowd) in Mile End on Monday night. The winners will travel to Barking in the next round

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Tuesday 25 September

Carabao Cup Third Round
Millwall v Fulham @745pm - from a London perspective, the Carabao Cup draw has thrown up some pretty interesting ties. The only one in the capital on Tuesday is this intriguing derby at The Den. The last time these two met towards the end of last season, they were pushing hard for a place in the Championship play-offs. By all accounts, the Cottagers played superbly and won 3-0 and it was they who ultimately went up and the Lions who fell short. Neither side are playing particularly well at the moment and being a Carabao Cup game tickets are only £15 and only half the ground is being opened

National League
Sutton United v Dover Athletic @745pm - there are a couple of fifth-tier games on Tuesday with this being marginally the better option. The U's are right up in contention again thanks in part to their impressive win over promotion rivals Wrexham on Saturday. The visitors are usually there or thereabouts too so for them to bottom of the league after 12 games is something of a surprise
Barnet v Havant & Waterlooville @745pm - if the deep south of London is inconvenient for you, then maybe a trip to London's northern polar regions could be more appealing. The Bees started badly, strung a great winning run together and have now gone off the boil again - consequently they're slap bang in the middle of the table. After enjoying two consecutive promotions, Havant seem to have run out of steam and, like Dover, are among the strugglers

Bostik League South Central
Hayes & Yeading United v Northwood @745pm - two of the top eight meet for a game at the well appointed SkyEx. Compared to the National League, the Bostik League season is still in its infancy with most clubs having played only five or six league games so a win could see either jump into the top four

Bostik League South East
Phoenix Sports v Greenwich Borough @745pm - after getting embroiled in an ineligible player incident, Phoenix saw their FA Cup tie at Hendon postponed on Saturday. They'll hope to put that behind them by winning this derby

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Wednesday 26 September

Carabao Cup Third Round
Arsenal v Brentford @745pm - stop the press! For the second week running, a midweek game at the Emirates Stadium is on sale to non-members (from £10). Last week it was for a Europa League match against a little known Ukrainian team, this time it's for, what is for me, a far more interesting London derby. Despite being a tiny club compared to the Gunners, the Bees are a fine Championship side and backed by several thousand fans could give Arsenal a tough time if they show any complacency
West Ham United v Macclesfield Town @745pm - over in east London, groundhoppers have a got a good, low cost, chance to tick the London Stadium off their list as the Hammers entertain last season's National League champions. Tickets are available from £10 and are likely to be in plentiful supply

Bostik League South East
Cray Wanderers v Whyteleafe @745pm - the hosts have made a cracking start to their campaign, winning all six games to top the division. The Leafe are in third with four wins from five

Essex Senior League
Ilford v Southend Manor @745pm - with only one league defeat, the Foxes are up in second and the leading club in the division from a TLFG point of view. A healthy win over an unspectacular Manor side will put them top on goal difference

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Welling Town v Sporting Club Thamesmead @745pm - the Boots moved up to this level over the summer and have taken to life in the tenth tier like ducks to water. Unbeaten after eight games, the south-east London club are four points clear and will look to increase their lead by beating the side they groundshare with

Uefa Women's Champions League
Chelsea v SFK 2000 @730pm - after winning the away leg in Sarajevo 5-0, the Blues look certain to progress to the last 16 as they try to follow up last season's domestic double with their first European title
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Friday 28 September

Professional Development League
Watford v Crystal Palace @3pm - the Hornets' youngsters entertain their counterparts from the Eagles at Wingate & Finchley's ground

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Woodford Town @745pm - you can easily combine the match above with this ESL encounter later in the day. Neither team have made a stunning start but with Oakside right next to Barkingside station, it's one of the easiest grounds to reach by public transport anywhere in London

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Saturday 29 September

Premier League
West Ham United v Manchester United @1230pm - the Hammers host the Red Devils in the opening game of a bumper afternoon of top-flight action in London. Relatively speaking, both sides have been out of sorts so far this season. It's hard to say how West Ham will fare but with their win over Everton last week and draw against Chelsea on Sunday, there are some signs of improvement. Man Utd have been indifferent to say the least with last weekend's hard fought win at Watford followed up with a disappointing draw against Wolves at Old Trafford - a game many said they could and possibly should have lost. This will probably simply come down to which side is more motivated and whose disgruntled supporters give the most backing
Arsenal v Watford @3pm - next up we have this derby at the Emirates Stadium. There can't have been many times when you reach the end of September and found Watford above Arsenal in the league, certainly not in the last 20 years. With four wins from six, the Hornets have been impressive this season and were unfortunate to only draw at Fulham on Saturday. At first glance you might think a win for Watford would be an upset and of course it would be, but a look through the history books shows the head-to-head between the two is incredibly close with the Gunners only 15-12 up in all competitions since their first meeting in 1906
Chelsea v Liverpool @530pm - saving the best till last we have a potential humdinger of a game as third placed Chelsea host the current leaders. The Reds have a decent record at Stamford Bridge and have only lost three times in their last 10 league visits. They brushed aside Southampton on Saturday and beat PSG in the Champions League in midweek - I'd have them as marginal favourites

Championship
Brentford v Reading @3pm - tickets for all of the above will be hard or expensive to get hold of and you could do a lot worse than go to this. The Bees have played some entertaining stuff this season and are right up among the leading pack. Located just to the west of London, Reading's matches against Brentford become derbies as geographically they are their closest divisional opponents. You would usually expect the Royals to challenge for promotion but after losing in the 2017 play-off final they've struggled and are in the bottom five again
Millwall v Sheffield United @3pm - if you're living/staying centrally and don't want to go so far out then a trip to Bermondsey to watch the Lions might be more appealing. As mentioned above, Millwall aren't on a great run at the moment and face another tough game here against the Blades who are pushing hard for top spot

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Oxford United @3pm - it's still early days but these sides are in the bottom six and this could prove to be a big game for both

National League
Leyton Orient v Sutton United @3pm - the standout game of the day at non-league level is this derby at Brisbane Road. The O's beat then leaders Harrogate Town 3-0 on Saturday to replace them at the top. Justin Edinburgh's side are now unbeaten in 12 and looking impressively good. On Saturday they welcome the U's who were London's top ranked non-league club last season and who are right up among the contenders again - it could be a cracker
Boreham Wood v Harrogate Town @3pm - if the O's do slip up, Harrogate will fancy their chances of retaking top spot with a win at The Wood who aren't quite as good as the side who made last season's play-off final

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Billericay Town @3pm - in NLS terms, this is all set to be a blockbuster. These two former Isthmian (Bostik) League champions, currently both in the top three, go head-to-head at the Beveree knowing a win could put one of them top

Bostik League Premier Division
Corinthian Casuals v Enfield Town @3pm - with only one win from their first six, Casuals are finding the step up to seventh-tier football to be quite a tough adjustment. On Saturday they welcome the Towners who are third

Evo-Stik League Premier Division
Staines Town v Weymouth @3pm - the Swans were among a clutch of clubs transferred somewhat against their will from the Bostik to Evo-Stik League over the summer. Some of the travelling has been significant and with only two wins from eight games, they've found life tough. On Saturday they take on the Terras who are one of the biggest clubs in the division and they could go top with a victory here

Bostik League South East
VCD Athletic v Cray Wanderers @3pm - it's derby time at Old Road between two decent sides - at the time of writing VCD are fifth and Cray are top

FA Trophy Extra Preliminary Round
This season's FA Trophy gets underway with an Extra Preliminary Round which I think is the first time it's happened, presumably as a result of the summer's big non-league restructure. This knockout competition is for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers with its final at Wembley in May. Winners of each tie receive a not insubstantial amount of £2,000. There aren't really any standout ties but the games at Aveley and Uxbridge, who are currently the best local teams playing at home, should be worth a watch

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Sutton Common Rovers v Chertsey Town @3pm - after going on a dodgy run of three straight defeats, SCR managed to arrest this run and have taken four points from the last two. However, probability states that they could well come unstuck again as Dave Anderson's Curfews side have won all their league games this season and are already three points clear

Essex Senior League
Walthamstow v Leyton Athletic @3pm - it's groundshare derby time at Wadham Lodge where the hosts will look to win and push into the top three

Thurlow Nunn League Division 1 South
Hashtag United v Halstead Town @3pm - the game of the day in the 10th tier is to be found at Coles Park where it's a case of second versus first where the winner will end the day top
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Sunday 30 September

Petrolux Kanu Cup
Premier League Masters v African Masters @3pm - bring your week to an end with this charity fundraiser at Barnet's ground which is very close to Canons Park Tube station. Former Arsenal and Inter Milan forward Kanu is raising money to help children with heart problems in Africa and has assembled two sides of well known players including Gunners team-mates Sol Campbell and Robert Pires plus the likes of Teddy Sheringham, Jay-Jay Okocha and for QPR fans like me, the legendary Danny Shittu. Adult tickets range from £10-15

FA Women's Super League
Chelsea v Brighton & Hove Albion @2pm - there are number of women's games on Sunday with this being the pick of the bunch. The Blues won the double last season but haven't had it all their own way so far this season, drawing all three of their opening league fixtures. They should improve on that here as the Seagulls have lost all three and are joint bottom with Yeovil

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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