Sunday, 13 January 2019

TLFG: 14-20 January 2019

Greetings one and all and welcome to the latest TLFG.

I've had a week off work this week and managed to get out and visit what was a new ground for me.

Imber Court, the home of Metropolitan Police FC, is a place I'd last been to way back in the '80s for a police family's wedding.

The whole site plays host to a range of sports and social facilities with the football stadium at its centre.

It's actually a little tricky to find the turnstile, especially after dark, but I stumbled across it in the end.

Much has been written about The Met in recent years in part because of a couple of good FA Cup runs. Probably the most notable thing about the current side is that it doesn't feature any serving officers and is just another seventh-tier side of semi-pros.

Harrow Borough (red) push for an equaliser at Imber Court
The other thing is that because they represent the police and have no police officers in the team, they have very few supporters so their crowds are among the lowest at the level.

On Tuesday I watched them take on my beloved Harrow Borough in the Southern League.

With the sides producing a seven-goal thriller just three days before, a lot was expected of this match which had been re-arranged from earlier in the season.

Sadly it wasn't to be as the hosts managed to grind out a 1-0 win with a goal midway through the second half.

The best thing for me was getting to meet up with some of the Harrow faithful who actually seemed to outnumber the home fans for a change.

I had planned to watch their next match at Beaconsfield Town too but it didn't come to pass and thankfully so as Harrow lost 4-1.

I feel I've rushed the writing of this blog a bit this week because I'm pretty tired - this is because I ended up joining my first London Tube Run on Sunday morning and running all the way from Turnpike Lane to Turnham Green along the Piccadilly Line which is a distance of around 22.5km.

Sunday's London Tube Run heads towards the Emirates Stadium
I haven't gone anywhere near this far for years so it was a very pleasant surprise that I could manage it. The pace is slow and breaks are taken but it's mainly about getting out there and socialising. We also got to do a full circuit of Arsenal's Emirates Stadium (so there is a football point to this story!). If you're into running, think about giving one of their events a go.

Finally, thanks to Scott T from Surrey who donated to TLFG's coffee drinking fund this week. I really appreciate it and thanks again to all those who have contributed in the past.

As always, have a great week and enjoy your football watching.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include action in the Premier League, EFL and most of our local non-league competitions. There are also some eye-catching U23 matches and FA Youth Cup games.

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
Thursday fixtures - purple 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 14 January

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Manchester City @7pm - the first XIs of these two clubs are among the best sides in the country but at U23 level they're not quite so impressive. City are down in seventh whilst the Gunners are even further back and are seven without a win - it's still the best on offer on Monday

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Tuesday 15 January

Kent Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Bromley v Charlton Athletic U23 @745pm - the pick of Tuesday night's action comes in the various local county cup competitions. The Ravens of the fifth tier National League host an Addicks development side at Hayes Lane

London Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Wingate & Finchley v Brentford B @745pm - after seeing off Wealdstone in the Middlesex Senior Cup last week, the Bees' development side look to make progress in the London Cup too with a tricky but very winnable tie at Summers Lane

Middlesex Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Barnet v Hampton & Richmond Borough @745pm - after seeing off Dorchester Town in the FA Trophy on Saturday, the Bees welcome Hampton & Richmond to The Hive. The visitors brought their poor run of form to an end with a win over Dulwich on Saturday. How strong either side put out for this one is hard to predict but I wouldn't expect the hosts to go that big on it

Combined Counties League Challenge Cup
Chertsey Town v Abbey Rangers @745pm - these two near neighbours are doing well in the league and are both still in the FA Vase and now they get the chance to play each other in this competition

A bit further afield

FA Cup Third Round Replay
Luton Town v Sheffield Wednesday @745pm - a visit to Kenilworth Road is often high on the list of groundhoppers who contact this blog. It's old, ramshackle, pretty unique and has one entrance in the middle of a row of terraced houses. It's located a short distance north of London and there appear to be plenty of tickets still available

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Wednesday 16 January

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Park View v Harefield United @745pm - Harefield appear to be cantering towards the title after Saturday's win at Winslow United put them 12 points clear at the top. Park View are new to this level and are more than holding their own but the Hare should have too much for them

A bit further afield

FA Cup Third Round Replay
Southampton v Derby County @745pm - after fighting out a 2-2 draw at Pride Park last weekend, Frank Lampard takes his Rams side to the Premier League Saints to try and pull off a cupset. Tickets for this televised game are only £12. If you're interested in going by train, it's only a 75-minute journey from Waterloo. There are also plenty of trains heading back to London after the game which you should be able to catch even if it goes to penalties

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Thursday 17 January

FA Youth Cup Fourth Round

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur @7pm - the match of the night takes place at Boreham Wood where the U18 sides of these two north London rivals go head-to-head. Sadly because of the high profile nature of the game and security surrounding it, even at this level, tickets are only on sale to members
Watford v Southampton @7pm - they'll be no such problem getting entry to the other game of the night at Wingate & Finchley's ground where the visitors should start as favourites
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Friday 18 January

Premier League Cup
Fulham v Birmingham City @3pm - we're still at the group stage of this U23 competition. A win will put the Cottagers on the verge of qualification for the next round. Tickets for games at Motspur Park are usually £3 but the club haven't published the details yet

FA Youth Cup Fourth Round
Crystal Palace v Bolton Wanderers @7pm - if you go to the match above, you can easily combine it with this U18 game later in the day at Selhurst Park

A bit further afield

Championship
Norwich City v Birmingham City @745pm - the Canaries are pushing hard for automatic promotion and have topped the division at various points this season whilst the Blues have a play-off spot very much in their sights. At two hours, the journey to Norwich is a bit further than I would normally recommend but with the stadium located a short walk from the station it is really easy to get to. Unlike Southampton above, there is only one train back to London after the game at 10pm so don't hang around too long after the final whistle

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Saturday 19 January

Premier League
Watford v Burnley @3pm - the Hornets climbed into the top seven with a win at Palace on Saturday. The Clarets moved clear of the bottom three with a priceless win over fellow strugglers Fulham but they'll do well to win here
Arsenal v Chelsea @530pm - arguably the match of the week takes place at The Emirates on Saturday teatime where the Blues will look to cement their hold on fourth place and keep Arsenal out of the Champions League places

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Preston North End @3pm - Steve McClaren's side are now three without a win and down in 11th but are still only four points off a play-off place. PNE are in poor form and should be beaten

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Barnsley @3pm - with the Dons rooted to the bottom and five points adrift of safety, things are looking pretty grim for the south London club. This match against the Tykes will be tough as they're in great form and pushing for automatic promotion
Charlton Athletic v Accrington Stanley @3pm - the Addicks are just above Barnsley in the table and will expect and need to win this match against midtable Accrington

National League South
Welling United v Eastbourne Borough @3pm - the Wings have lost their way of late but could force their way back into the top four if they win and results go their way

Bostik League Premier Division
Haringey Borough v Margate @3pm - the hosts' lengthy unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday with a shock defeat at relegation threatened Harlow, despite this they stayed eight points clear at the top and will look to extend their lead with a win here

Bostik League South Central
Hayes & Yeading United v Chalfont St Peter @3pm - the hosts kept up their superb run of form with a win at Tooting & Mitcham on Saturday. Not only are they top of the league but with 76 goals from 19 games they're the highest scorers in the country!

Bostik League South East
Cray Wanderers v VCD Athletic @3pm - Cray are another local side in exceptional form with only one league defeat all season. They'll look to move 13 points clear with a victory in this south-east London derby

Kent Senior Trophy Quarter-Final
Fisher v Beckenham Town @3pm - two of the SCEFL's top three meet in the latest round of this county cup. The title race is tight with only one point between the top three so this competition might be seen as a distraction

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Hadley v London Colney @3pm - Hadley moved to the top of the league with a solid 3-0 win over Harpenden on Saturday. London Colney won the title a couple of years ago but are a shadow of that side and will probably come unstuck here

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Sunday 20 January

Premier League
Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur @4pm - now five points adrift of safety, things are getting pretty serious for the Cottagers. Their chances of winning against Spurs in this derby are slim but you never know...

London Senior Trophy Quarter-Final
Erith & Belvedere v Phoenix Sports Reserves @3pm - if you're not on Fulham's ticketing database then you'll struggle to get a ticket for the above so if you're really in need of a football fix then this is your alternative


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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