Monday, 4 February 2019

TLFG: 4-10 February 2019

Welcome to the latest edition of TLFG and apologies for the late publication - apart from a few early kick-offs in U23 games, I don't think you're going to miss out on too much.

The last week hasn't been as action packed as we would all have hoped because snow blighted large parts of the fixture list, particularly at non-league level.

Nonetheless, there were some cracking games not least the 3-3 draw between Barnet and Brentford in the FA Cup which got the week off to a great start on Monday.

There have also been two rounds of Premier League games since I last wrote with a number of spectacular wins and losses for our local clubs but ultimately not very much changed. Spurs are still our top local club and Fulham are really struggling - everyone else just seems to be muddling through.

The categories in this year's FBAs have been announced

Brentford were the star performers in the Championship with a superb 5-2 win over play-off chasing Blackburn - a result made all the more impressive by the fact they were 2-0 down after seven minutes. Thomas Frank's side are now unbeaten in seven and pushing for a place in the top half.

Our local League One sides both lost but while Charlton stay firmly in the play-off places, AFC Wimbledon are still bottom and now nine points adrift of safety.

In the FA Trophy, Bostik League club Carshalton Athletic came from two goals down to draw 3-3 with Barnet who play two levels above them whilst Leyton Orient squeaked past Blyth Spartans to book their place in the quarter-finals.

Chertsey Town saw their FA Vase game at Irlam snowed off but in the all-London tie, Cray Valley PM beat Abbey Rangers 3-1 to make the last eight.

The quarter-final draw for both competitions is on Monday lunchtime.

I've got a few days off now so will get to go to only my second QPR match of the season as they entertain Portsmouth in an FA Cup replay on Tuesday night. Although from the division below, Pompey will be incredibly tough to beat and will be roared on by their fans who have completely sold out their allocation of tickets. The winners will have an attractive home tie against Premier League Watford in the next round - they're actually my outside tip to win it this season.

Tickets are now available for The London Football Awards

Many thanks to Michael C and Andy LW 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.

On the subject of the coffee drinking fund, things are going to be changing from now on after I received the news on Thursday that my Dad has lung cancer. This condition also claimed the lives of my Mum and grandfather so with me powerless to do anything medically to help him, I've decided to ask for all donations to this blog to now go to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which you can contribute to through the fundraising page I've set up. 

Sorry to end my bit on such a low note but the good news is, the doctors haven't written him off yet and there is a chance.

Anyway, enough about me - enjoy your football and keep in touch.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include action in the Premier League and EFL, a couple of FA Cup replays and loads of action in our local non-league competitions. There are also some eye-catching U23 and U18 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.

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 4 February

Premier League
West Ham United v Liverpool @8pm - both sides were going along pretty smoothly until recently. Although Liverpool are still top, they've only won three of their last five league games and are out of the FA Cup. The Hammers have seen their form dip even more sharply, winning only one of their last five league games and they too are out of the cup after losing at League One strugglers AFC Wimbledon. The Reds will of course start as strong favourites, a status that's further backed up by the fact that they've beaten West Ham on the last four occasions and scored four goals each time. If you want to go, there are a few tickets available via the club's ticket exchange

Premier League 2
If you don't fancy the high prices at the London Stadium, then there are a couple of U23 games taking place elsewhere on Monday night with Arsenal hosting West Ham at Boreham Wood and Fulham playing Aston Villa at their training ground. Gunners games at Boreham Wood are usually free admission but the pitch was unplayable on Saturday so make sure it is still going ahead. Entry to Fulham's training ground is £3

Professional Development League
There are three U23 matches in this league on Monday lunchtime. Crystal Palace, Millwall and QPR are all playing fixtures at their training grounds. However, this usually means you'll only be able to get in to the game at QPR but, as always, check all the details before you travel

Bostik League Premier Division
Haringey Borough v Brightlingsea Regent @745pm - after coming up from the North Division last season, Haringey have been the surprise package of this campaign. Top for several weeks after going on a lengthy winning run, they've slipped back to second after winning only two in five. They are still serving up the entertainment though, producing a 4-4 draw with Burgess Hill on Saturday. On Monday they welcome Essex club Brightlingsea who have made rapid progress up the divisions since being formed in 2005 and are more than holding their own at this level

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Romford @745pm - the Millers moved to within three points of leaders Bowers & Pitsea with a win at Canvey Island on Saturday which means victory against local rivals Romford could put them joint top. The visitors are currently bottom so should be beaten

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Tuesday 5 February

FA Cup Fourth Round Replays
Brentford v Barnet @745pm - the initial game produced one of the matches of the round with the thrilling 3-3 draw wowing TV audiences around the country. Whether the second 'Battle of the Bees' will be quite as entertaining remains to be seen but precedent suggests the Championship side should prevail at the second time of asking. Sadly this game is not going on general sale and is only available to people with a previous ticket purchasing history
Queens Park Rangers v Portsmouth @745pm - elsewhere in west London, there's another finely balanced match between a midtable Championship side and one pushing for the title in League One. The first game produced a hard fought 1-1 draw and QPR, who aren't in the best of form, look vulnerable to a cupset. As with the match above, you must have a previous ticket purchasing history to be able to get a ticket for this one

National League South
Welling United v Chippenham Town @745pm - originally scheduled for last Saturday, this game was re-arranged while I was writing this blog on Sunday and missed the news that it was being played on Tuesday instead. Both clubs are pushing for a play-off place so it should be well worth a watch

Bostik League South East Division
Cray Wanderers v Whyteleafe @745pm - there's quite a lot of decent games on in the eighth tier on Tuesday but this top-five clash is probably the pick of them. Cray are the oldest club in London and appear to be romping to the title this year. Currently 13 points clear at the top after beating Herne Bay 6-0 on Saturday, it will take some doing to throw their lead away UPDATE: This match is being played at Whyteleafe - it's correct on the map but for some reason I switched it round, apologies 

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Chertsey Town v Badshot Lea @745pm - the Curfews were all set to make the long trip up to Manchester on Saturday to play Irlam in their big FA Vase match but snow saw it postponed. Back in London, their main title rivals Sutton Common Rovers did manage to play but suffered a surprise 4-1 home defeat to Spelthorne Sports. The result means Chertsey are left only two points behind but with three games in hand so a win here against midtable opposition will put them back on top

Combined Counties League Division 1 Cup
Bedfont & Feltham v Epsom & Ewell @745pm - two of the top four in the division meet in the cup for what should be an entertaining game at the end of Heathrow Airport's runway

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Wednesday 6 February

FA Continental Tyres Cup Semi-Final
Chelsea v Manchester City @730pm - the biggest match of the night is this women's match at Kingsmeadow where last season's league and FA Cup doublewinners Chelsea host the current league leaders City for a place in this year's league cup final. Tickets are £3

Southern Counties East League Challenge Cup Quarter-Final
Cray Valley PM v Corinthian @745pm - hosts CVPM recorded a fine 3-1 win over Abbey Rangers on Saturday to make it through the quarter-finals of the FA Vase. The south-east London club are also doing pretty well in the league and will make the semi-finals of the league cup too if they win here. However, Corinthian are second and will be tough to beat

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Thursday 7 February

FA Continental Tyres Cup Semi-Final
Arsenal v Manchester United @730pm - the Gunners women's team are currently second in the Super League but with a game in hand which will put them top if they win it. Although only a second-tier side, United are the highest scoring team in the top two divisions and will almost certainly get promoted to the top flight next season. Having beaten Super League side West Ham in the previous round, it will be very interesting to see how they get on here. Tickets for this match at Boreham Wood are £6

A bit further afield
If you've never been to Peterborough United then you've got the chance to tick their ABAX Stadium off your list on Thursday lunchtime. Although some way north of London, trains from Kings Cross are frequent and fast (less than an hour) and the ground is walkable from the station - you could also pay a visit to the 12th century cathedral too. Oh yes, they're playing Charlton Athletic in an U23 match

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Friday 8 February

A bit further afield
There's nothing on at all in London on Friday so if you want your football fix then you're going to have to clock up some miles. The biggest game of the day is the Championship match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United in Birmingham. There are still a few tickets available and it is possible to get trains back to London after the match with the last one leaving New Street at 2310.

Closer to home we have the Evo-Stik League match between Winchester City and AFC Totton. Both clubs are sitting just outside the play-off places so there's a fair bit at stake. Winchester is a very historic city and is well worth a visit in its own right so if you're free, think about making a day of it. There are also plenty of trains back to London after the game too.

Finally, if you enjoyed your visit to Peterborough on Thursday, you could remain in the area and check out Thurlow Nunn League leaders Godmanchester Rovers who continue their title push against Thetford Town. If going by public transport, you'll probably need a taxi to get you back to Huntingdon station after the game but once there, you'll be able to get a train back into London without much problem
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Saturday 9 February

Premier League
Fulham v Manchester United @1230pm - a full programme of top-flight action gets underway at lunchtime with this important match at Craven Cottage. Fulham enjoyed a fine midweek win over Brighton but then suffered a disappointing defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday to fall seven points adrift of safety. Much has been made of United's resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer so they couldn't be facing them at a much worse time. The Cottagers are also winless in 11 against the Old Trafford club and have suffered some pretty heavy defeats since their last win in 2009. This match has sold out
Crystal Palace v West Ham United @3pm - the win over Fulham moved the Eagles up to 14th, four points clear of the relegation zone. With only two defeats in five league games and still in the FA Cup, things are looking promising for Roy Hodgson's men and I'd have to start them as favourites in this derby. Tickets are not available to non-members
Watford v Everton @3pm - with only one point from their two games over the last week, you'd probably be a little disappointed as a Watford fan. However, that draw at Brighton on Saturday kept them in the top eight which is a fine achievement for a club of their size. On Saturday they welcome a Toffees side managed by former Hornets boss Marco Silva who are just one point behind them in the table. The sides produced a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture in December and a draw looks likely here too. This match is the only local Premier League game with tickets available to non-members but there aren't many left so act fast if you want one

A bit further afield
If none of the above work for you and you're prepared to travel outside London then there are a few tickets left for Southampton v Cardiff City and Brighton v Burnley in the Premier League

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Birmingham City @3pm - QPR's defeat at Wigan on Saturday made them about as midtable as it is possible to be - 14th place, eight points off the play-offs and 14 points clear of the relegation zone. Although the Championship is a pretty crazy division, it's highly unlikely they'll be going anywhere this season. This weekend they welcome Birmingham who are in a much better position when it comes to finishing in the top six and so should be marginal favourites. However, QPR are unbeaten in six against the Blues and haven't lost at home against them since 2006

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Burton Albion @3pm - still bottom of the division after a narrow defeat at Sunderland, the Dons take on another club who have done way better in cup football this season. Wally Downes' side enjoyed a fantastic 4-2 win over West Ham last week to make the fifth round of the FA Cup while Burton made it to the EFL Cup semi-finals (we'll gloss over their 10-0 aggregate defeat to Man City though) last month. The Midlands club got relegated from the Championship at the end of last season and are almost certainly going to have to settle for a midtable finish this time
Charlton Athletic v Southend United @3pm - at the other end of the table, the Addicks still find themselves firmly entrenched in the play-off places despite a 1-0 loss at Fleetwood on Saturday. Lee Bowyer's men still have a seven-point cushion over the chasing pack so should remain in the top group of clubs for a few weeks yet. With Southend only a little to the east of London, this is pretty much a derby but like Burton they're on 38 points and seem to have little to play for

FA Youth Cup Fifth Round
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - before moving on to the day's non-league action, it's worth pointing out this U18 match which is being played at Boreham Wood. Chelsea have totally dominated this competition in recent years but lost in the third round to Manchester United, meaning someone new is going to get their chance this year. The Gunners should start this match as strong favourites. Arsenal usually let people into their youth games for free but given it's an FA competition there might be a nominal charge - it shouldn't be more than £5 though

National League
Barnet v Sutton United @3pm - after all the thrills and spills of two thrilling 3-3 draws in the FA Cup and FA Trophy last week, Barnet return to the relative mundanity of league football. However, the visit of Sutton should also provide a decent spectacle as it's a north v south London derby. Interestingly, with the clubs yo-yoing between divisions over the decades they've hardly ever played each other. My exhaustive archive search has concluded that the last competitive meeting between the two was an FA Cup match in 1970 which Sutton won 2-0. On current form, United should win this one too

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Welling United @3pm - the match of the day in the sixth tier must be this south London derby. With the Hamlet winless since Boxing Day, the relegation zone is creeping ever closer and alarm bells must be starting to ring. Despite this they're still drawing huge crowds of around 3,000. Given the derby nature of this game and the fact that Welling are fighting hard for a play-off place, there should be another big attendance again

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Metropolitan Police v Weymouth @3pm - there's a real David & Goliath clash at Imber Court on Saturday where one of the division's smallest teams hosts its biggest. Despite the Met's lack of support they've been in the best form they've been in for years and are level on points with second placed Weymouth. Both clubs have two games in hand on leaders Taunton so they're in with a great chance of winning the title

Bostik League Premier Division
Corinthian Casuals v Lewes @3pm - a short journey away in Tolworth you've got this match between two clubs on the up. Casuals got promoted last season and have seen attendances rise by 45% this season as their popularity has soared. Lewes are one of the biggest clubs in the division and came up with CCs from the South Division last season. Of the three clubs promoted, the Rooks are making the best of things and could well make the play-offs again

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Maldon & Tiptree @3pm - it's third versus second at Parkside on Saturday as these two Essex clubs try to catch leaders Bowers & Pitsea who are just three points ahead. The clubs are also the highest scorers in the division so hopefully there'll be plenty of entertainment

Bostik League South Central
Hayes & Yeading United v Cheshunt @3pm - after the blip of a 2-2 draw at Ashford Town last Saturday, leaders H&YU responded with a 5-1 midweek win at Chalfont St Peter and an 8-1 drubbing of Hertford on Saturday to quell any doubts about their title ambitions. The west London club have now scored a ridiculous 95 goals in 23 league games (still more than any other club in the country) and are 12 points clear at the top. Cheshunt, at the time of writing, are fourth and have promotion ambitions of their own but will it be a case of damage limitation even for them?

Essex Senior League
Sporting Bengal United v Tower Hamlets @3pm - it's time for the Mile End Derby again. Both clubs share the same ground and originally have their roots in the local Bengali community. These days both clubs field players from all backgrounds but there is still a strong Asian presence on the pitch and in the stands. I've been to a few of these games in the past and for a ninth-tier game they can get quite lively

Combined Counties League Division 1
British Airways v Bedfont & Feltham @3pm - there's another interesting groundshare derby on the west side of town where tenants BA host their landlords. B&F, although third, are the title favourites because of their games in hand. The most notable thing about this ground is its location next the runway at Heathrow Airport so if you love football and plane spotting you'll think you've died and gone to heaven!
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Sunday 10 February

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City @130pm - after beating Newcastle on Saturday, Spurs briefly went second in the table. Man City's comfortable win over Arsenal on Sunday put them back down to third and that looks like being the lowest they'll probably finish given the seven-point gap between themselves and an inconsistent Chelsea. Leicester, unsurprisingly, have never come close to recapturing their title winning form but are dangerous opponents who are capable of beating anyone on their day. Although winless in four, they did manage a 1-1 draw at Liverpool in midweek and only narrowly lost to Manchester United on Sunday. Tickets are available to non-members if you want to go

FA Women's Championship
London Bees v Tottenham Hotspur @2pm - a short Tube ride from Wembley Park to Canons Park on the Jubilee Line will bring you to The Hive where this match is being played. It seems somewhat of a missed opportunity that this north London derby has been scheduled for pretty much the same time as the men's game above but what do I know? Spurs are currently top of this division and will want to win this derby to keep ahead of Charlton and Manchester United who look like their most likely challengers for the title




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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