Sunday 27 January 2019

TLFG: 28 January - 3 February 2019

Welcome one and all to the latest edition of TLFG.

The highlights of this week have largely been provided by an exciting fourth round of the FA Cup which has been full of goals and one or two shocks.

Two of the biggest upsets were caused by London clubs with Millwall twice coming from behind to beat Everton 3-2 and AFC Wimbledon, struggling at the foot of League One, beating West Ham United 4-2 in games that were televised back-to-back on Saturday evening.

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace enjoyed an impressive 2-0 win over Tottenham who joined north London rivals Arsenal in tasting defeat - the Gunners succumbing 3-1 to Manchester United in the big game on Friday. Watford also recorded a very tidy 2-0 win at Newcastle to book their place in the fifth round too.

QPR salvaged a 1-1 draw at Portsmouth so will also be in the hat for the draw which takes place on Monday night around 7pm.

Chelsea were last to play, beating Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday evening. It capped off a great week for the Blues who also beat Spurs on penalties on Thursday night to book their place in next month's Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City.

Tickets for Tottenham's next three games at Wembley are all on general sale
With a rare weekend off, I fully intended to see a game and after a few last-minute challenges I ended up scrapping my initial plans and went to watch my nearest non-league side Hanwell Town take on Marlow in the Bostik League South Central.

Located just off the A40 and a short walk from Perivale Tube station, Hanwell is a pretty easy club to get to.

I was trying to work out when I'd last been and it could well have been six or seven years when I went to watch then groundsharers Southall in action.

Whenever it was, the ground had undergone a bit of a revamp with the most notable addition being a large electronic scoreboard on one side of the ground, the like of which you'll do well to find at any non-league ground never mind an eighth-tier one.

Nicknamed the Geordies, because they were founded by some people from Newcastle in 1920, they play in the famous black and white stripes of Newcastle United.

Moved from the Evo-Stik Southern League to the Bostik League at the start of this season because of the big restructure, Hanwell have won eight, drawn seven and lost eight of their games to sit 12th.

They have been models of inconsistency in recent weeks scoring six one week and none the next so it would be interesting to see how they would fare against a promotion chasing Marlow side.

Keeper Aaron Bufton can only watch as James Clark slots home Marlow's third
For me the visitors are most famous for playing Tottenham at White Hart Lane in the FA Cup back in 1993. It created a lot of interest in the club and they gave a decent account of themselves in what turned out to be a 5-1 defeat.

Saturday's game started off competitively enough with both sides creating chances until the first goal arrived for the visitors on the half hour before a second came shortly after, making it 2-0 at the interval.

Hanwell came out early after the break and appeared eager to reduce the deficit but when James Clark neatly finished Marlow's third on 54 minutes, the hosts fell apart.

Twenty minutes later it was 6-0 and it looked like the goals would just keep coming but thankfully for Hanwell it wasn't the case and Marlow settled for the win which lifted them up to second.

A decent crowd of 153 enjoyed this match - a very healthy turnout for eighth-tier football.

I think that will be it for me until next week when I fully intend to go to the QPR v Portsmouth game alluded to above. If you want to go it will be on Tuesday 5 February - tickets are only £15 and go on sale at 2pm on Monday 28 January.

Finally, thanks to Melissa B from Texas, USA 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 highlights of the next few days include action in the Premier League and EFL, the latest rounds of the FA Trophy and FA Vase plus loads of action in our local non-league competitions. There are also some eye-catching U23 matches 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.

Monday fixtures - yellow pin
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.

Monday 28 January

FA Cup Fourth Round
Barnet v Brentford @745pm - a thrilling round of FA Cup action comes to an end with this very interesting London derby at The Hive. After a weekend of shocks, non-league Barnet look well placed to upset their Championship opponents. The clubs haven't met since 2011 when they ground out a 0-0 draw in the EFL Trophy. In general, these games don't produce many goals but with the teams now three divisions apart that might not be the case this time. Tickets in home areas have sold out and I couldn't find any availability on Brentford's website either so don't make the journey without one

Professional Development League
Charlton Athletic v Crystal Palace @1pm - if you're around during the afternoon then this lunchtime U23 match at The Valley is a fine way to while away a couple of hours - UPDATE: THIS MATCH IS NOW ON TUESDAY

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Redbridge @745pm - after seeing a fine crowd turn out for their last Monday night game against Hullbridge, the 'Side will be hoping for an even better crowd for the visit of the club who effectively forced them out of their own ground.  Way back in 2001-02, Redbridge (then known as Ford United) bought the lease off Barkingside but allowed them to groundshare. In 2014 they put the rent up to an unaffordable level and Barkingside opted to move to Ilford where they continue to this day

A bit further afield
Colchester United v Queens Park Rangers @7pm - if you fancy ticking Colchester's ground off your list then this U23 match is a great chance to do it. It's a fair distance from the town centre but is very accessible by car. For some reason, the U's charge an inexplicable £10 to get into U23 games so be prepared for it


Tuesday 29 January

Premier League
Arsenal v Cardiff City @745pm - neither of these sides have been having a great time of late. The Gunners got dumped out of the FA Cup on Friday by a resurgent Manchester United and Cardiff are struggling to win in the league and are still suffering the effects of losing new signing Emiliano Sala in a plane crash on Monday - although the search for him is still ongoing. It says quite a lot about the current state of affairs at Arsenal that this match actually went on general sale for a while - something which hardly ever happens for Premier League games. Anything less than a home win will be seen as an upset
Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion @745pm - three defeats on the bounce have left the Cottagers seven points adrift of safety so they've got to start picking up points soon or relegation will become a certainty. Midtable Brighton are one of those teams that they simply must beat if they can seriously think about turning things around. The Sussex club have sold out their allocation but tickets are available in home areas of the ground and also in Fulham's (in)famous neutral section

Professional Development League
Charlton Athletic v Crystal Palace @1pm - if you're around during the afternoon then this lunchtime U23 match at The Valley is a fine way to while away a couple of hours

London Senior Cup Quarter-Finals
Welling United v Leyton Orient @745pm - with the first two quarter-finals already played, the second two take place on Tuesday. This is the bigger match with two of London's biggest non-league sides going head-to-head. As it is only a county cup competition and both sides are pushing for promotion in their respective divisions, a few players will probably be rested but it should still be worth a watch
Clapton v Harrow Borough @745pm - the winners of the tie above will then travel to whoever comes out on top at The Old Spotted Dog. If you've never heard of it, the OSD is the oldest football ground in London so should be on the list of anyone with a sense of history. It is incredibly run down and the crowd will probably be small, since the departure of the Clapton Ultras, but you must get it ticked off your list if you're a groundhopper. On paper Harrow, who play two levels above Clapton, should win. Manager Steve Baker has been taking county cups pretty seriously so far this season and saw his side score nine against the last ninth-tier side they played against


Wednesday 30 January

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Watford @8pm - for me, this derby at Wembley should be one of the best matches of the week. Both sides are in the top seven and often produce entertaining games. This will be the third time the sides have met this season. Watford won the reverse fixture 2-1 at Vicarage Road in early September before losing on penalties in an Carabao Cup tie after a 2-2 draw. Despite my positive vibes about this fixture, there appear to be plenty of tickets on general sale so you should have no trouble getting to watch this match

Essex Senior League
Walthamstow v Stanway Rovers @745pm - the hosts crushed Redbridge 5-1 on Saturday to remain as London's top club in this league. Up in fifth, they are still way off the top four so this is realistically as high as they are likely to go. Stanway are slap bang in the middle of the table so should be beaten

A bit further afield
There's not much else happening within the confines of the M25 on Wednesday so I've added a few games from the home counties to the match map. The most notable is the Premier League game between Southampton and Crystal Palace which at the time of writing does have a few tickets left for it. There are several trains back to London after the match so it is very doable. There is also a Premier League International Cup U23 match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Bayern Munich down in Sussex but it's being played at Brighton's training ground which although impressive is still only a training ground - also check before you head off whether you will be admitted and how much it costs as details are sketchy at the moment (UPDATE: some TLFG readers are reporting that this has sold out already). There are also several non-league games which you can find on the map too


Thursday 31 January

A bit further afield
Having gone through all the fixture resources I could find, it appears the only match of any note in the whole of England is the FA Youth Cup tie between Derby County and Manchester City at Pride Park. To be clear, this is an U18s match a long way from London but admission is free and the 7pm kick-off means you should be able to get the last direct train back to London at 2122 - if you make it to this I'll be very impressed/slightly worried!


Friday 1 February

Professional Development League

Watford v Cardiff City @3pm - the Hornets' U23 side play their latest Friday afternoon game at Wingate & Finchley's ground against the Bluebirds. Neither team have been pulling up any trees this season but I can think of far worse things to do

A bit further afield
For the second week running, the Essex town of Harlow could well be your destination for some Friday night football as Woodford Town take on Redbridge in the Essex Senior League

Saturday 2 February

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United @1230pm - a full programme of top-flight action gets underway at lunchtime with this important match at Wembley. With Spurs looking to catch Manchester City and the Magpies teetering just above the relegation zone, this will have ramifications at both ends of the table. Newcastle have been pretty tough to beat on their travels this season but Tottenham have won their last three against Rafa Benitez's side and will expect to triumph again. As with the Watford game above, tickets are available on general sale
Crystal Palace v Fulham @3pm - next up in order of importance must be this derby between two sides who are fighting to avoid the drop. Both have midweek games so the picture for both could be very different come kick-off. Unsurprisingly a big crowd is expected with the away section already sold out. If you want to get one for the home end then membership is required
Chelsea v Huddersfield Town @3pm - aside from hospitality packages, this match has also sold out. In theory this game against bottom club Huddersfield should be a bit of a stroll for the Blues but maybe with new boss Jan Siewert, another youthful German, now in charge the Terriers could have a chance

Brentford v Blackburn Rovers @3pm - although way down in 18th, the Bees are starting to string together a decent unbeaten run. Next up they face Blackburn who with four wins in a row are one of the form teams of the division. Up in eighth and just three points off a play-off spot they should be tough opponents
Millwall v Rotherham United @3pm - after enjoying the glory of a televised FA Cup win over Everton on Saturday, the Lions return to earth with a far less glamorous fixture against Rotherham. It is, however, a very important one as they look to put more daylight between themselves and the relegation zone - if results go their way, they could be eight points clear by the end of the day

With all of our other local EFL teams playing away, the focus next moves to non-league games and Saturday gives us the chance to enjoy the next rounds of the FA Trophy and FA Vase where both are down to their last 16 teams. Both competitions have their finals on the same day in May at Wembley. The Trophy is for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers and the Vase is for clubs in the ninth to 11th tiers.

FA Trophy Third Round
Leyton Orient v Blyth Spartans @3pm - one of the beauties of this competition is that it throws clubs together who would rarely if ever play each other. To my knowledge these two have never played before and it's no surprise as the O's have spent most of their history in the EFL and Blyth have been playing in the regional leagues of the north east for most of their history. The hosts are currently top of the National League so should in theory be the top seeds to win this competition. Blyth are midtable a level below so will arrive as significant underdogs. However, they do have a proud history in the FA Cup and even made it as far as fifth round on one occasion so are no strangers to causing an upset
Carshalton Athletic v Barnet @3pm - after facing Brentford in the FA Cup on Monday, the Bees then travel to south London for some more knockout football against the Robins. Playing two divisions above their hosts, Barnet should start as strong favourites. Having never won the Trophy before, you'd like to think new boss Darren Currie would make it one of his priorities especially with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs. Carshalton have struggled to find any form in the Bostik League this season but this cup run is keeping things interesting. The 4G pitch they use may also prove to be a bit of a leveller

FA Vase Fifth Round
Cray Valley PM v Abbey Rangers @3pm - this is the first round of the competition where the draw has stopped being north/south and been nationalised so anybody could draw anybody else. Somehow two of the three remaining TLFG clubs managed to get each other thus avoiding what could have been a long journey north. This match couldn't be much better balanced with both sides sitting fourth in their respective ninth-tier divisions. South-east London club Cray have had a good record in cup competitions in recent seasons and this represents their best ever showing in the Vase. Abbey, who hail from Addlestone in Surrey, are a relatively new club so they must be pinching themselves that they've got this far. The other TLFG side to have made the fifth round are Abbey's neighbours Chertsey Town who face a tough trip up to Manchester to play Irlam - all the best to them

National League
Boreham Wood v Wrexham @3pm - the hosts are five without a win and will do well to pick up three points here as Welsh giants Wrexham will look to keep their title challenge on track. The former third-tier club have been in this division for way too long and are one of the five sides separated by just four points at the top of the table MATCH OFF

National League South
Wealdstone v Billericay Town @3pm - represented by a number of big characters both on and off the field, this would appear to be the game of the day in the sixth tier. Essex club Billericay won the Bostik League title last season after spending a huge amount of money on the wages of a few former Premier League players. This season, they've scaled things back a bit but owner Glenn Tamplin is still behaving erratically especially when it comes to the hiring and firing of managers and their form has suffered. Still in the top five, promotion is very much a possibility but the Stones in 10th are very much in the reckoning themselves and will want to bridge what is only a four-point gap between the clubs here MATCH OFF

Bostik League South Central Division
Hayes & Yeading United v Hertford Town @3pm - nothing really stands out in the seventh tier this week and there's not much that really grabs me in the eighth tier either so why not get yourself along to see the highest scoring club in at least the top eight levels of English football. With 82 goals from 21 league games you'll be sure to be entertained at Hayes & Yeading. It's also the first full season they've played in their fine new ground so check it out if you've not yet been

Essex Senior League
Leyton Athletic v Walthamstow @3pm - this match is notable simply because it's a groundshare derby. Leyton Athletic were known as Wadham Lodge (the name of the ground) until the start of this season but they changed it as did Walthamstow (who were known as Waltham Forest). The change hasn't done much for the hosts who recently went bottom and stayed there after losing 7-0 at Saffron Walden on Saturday. As mentioned above, Walthamstow are in much better form and should win

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Welling Town v Erith & Belvedere @3pm - it's first versus fourth at Bayliss Avenue where the hosts will look to extend their lead at the top to eight points. As far as I understand it, only the top two can be considered for promotion so E&B really need to win big derby games like this MATCH OFF


Sunday 3 February

Women's FA Cup Fourth Round
Sunday's football in London is totally dominated by this competition. The pick of the ties would appear to be Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur which is being played at Bromley's ground at 2pm. There are also home games for AFC Wimbledon, Charlton Athletic, Millwall and West Ham United - bear in mind that none of these teams are playing at the same stadium as their male counterparts so check all the details on the match map.

A bit further afield
The only men's game I can find is the interesting FA Vase Fifth Round tie between Biggleswade FC and Windsor. The match is being played at Biggleswade Town's ground which appears to be very walkable from the town's station. Direct trains from Kings Cross take about 45 minutes but there's only one every hour so make sure you check your departure times carefully. The hosts look well placed to challenge for the Spartan South Midlands League title this season whilst Windsor are midtable in the parallel ninth tier Hellenic League so a home win looks likely.

There are also a number of Women's FA Cup ties just beyond the edge of London and these are also on the match map.

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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