Monday, 26 August 2019

TLFG: 27 August - 1 September 2019

Greetings one and all and welcome to this week's TLFG.

I hope you had a great Bank Holiday weekend while I was toiling in a boiling workplace with no air-conditioning (it's been around 33c/91f in London over the last few days).

I haven't been to any football but I did catch a glimpse of Kingstonian v Bishop's Stortford from a train on Monday afternoon and also several other grounds from a train on Sunday as I went to visit my Dad in Somerset.

Thankfully QPR managed to end their losing run with an important 3-1 win over Wigan on Saturday and Harrow Borough moved to joint top of the Southern League after winning 2-1 at Walton Casuals so it's been a decent few days for my teams.

Kingstonian v Bishop's Stortford viewed from a train - the closest I got to some live action this week!
My wife and kids have all gone to Ireland for a few days so I'm home alone and will hopefully get to a game on Wednesday night with a couple of my Non-League Day team members where we'll have a planning meeting but we'll see what transpires.

Lastly this week, many thanks to all the readers who have donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund over the last few months. I really really appreciate it and thanks for all your kind words. The page will stay open as the fight goes on!

As always - enjoy your football and have a great week.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include some matches in the Premier League and EFL, the second round of the EFL Cup, the opening round of the FA Vase and plenty of games in all our local non-league competitions - there are over 80 matches in total so there's plenty to choose from. 

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
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.

Tuesday 27 August

EFL Cup Second Round
Crystal Palace v Colchester United @745pm - after their sensational away win at Manchester United at the weekend, the Eagles next play opposition from League Two as they begin their EFL Cup campaign. Adult tickets are £15 if bought in advance or £20 on the day and are on sale to non-members which is unusual for Palace matches
Fulham v Southampton @745pm - the tie of the night sees Championship title contenders Fulham try to upset Premier League strugglers Southampton. However, their recent record against the Saints at Craven Cottage isn't stunning so it could be close. As above, adult tickets are £15 if bought in advance or £20 on the day

Professional Development League
There's the possibility of a Crystal Palace double header on Tuesday as the U23s play Hull City at 1pm at the academy's training ground where it's free to get in

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Spelthorne Sports v Hanworth Villa @745pm - with three wins in the league and two in the FA Cup, the hosts have made a blistering start to the campaign. On Tuesday night they welcome local rivals Hanworth who aren't doing nearly so well

Combined Counties League Division 1
FC Deportivo Galicia v British Airways @745pm - there's a derby of sorts in Bedfont where clubs who groundshare at neighbouring stadiums play each other. With only one point from their opening four games, the hosts are bottom and could struggle again

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Wednesday 28 August

EFL Cup Second Round
Queens Park Rangers v Portsmouth @745pm - the match of the night takes place at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium where QPR welcome League One Pompey. The visitors were among the title contenders in the third tier last season but have made a sluggish start. Rangers notched a welcome victory over Wigan in the league on Saturday and beat Portsmouth here in the FA Cup in February. Adult tickets are £15

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Balham v Colliers Wood United @730pm - the best non-league option would appear to be a groundshare derby where the tenants host the landlords. Like Spelthorne Sports, Balham have started well in the league and FA Cup so should begin as favourites

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
London Lions v London Tigers @8pm - neither of these sides have made a great start, in fact they're both in the bottom four but how could I not mention a clash between Lions and Tigers? If you didn't already know, the hosts are a Jewish club and the visitors have their roots in west London's Asian community

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Friday 30 August

Premier League 2
You could get to watch two games at U23 level on Friday or combine the afternoon kick-off between Fulham and Newcastle with one of the evening's non-league games. The Cottagers' match takes place at their training ground in Motspur Park where it's £3 to get in. If you're prepared to travel a bit beyond London's outer limits to Aldershot, you can see Chelsea play Tottenham Hotspur in what should be an entertaining game at 7pm - again, it's £3 entry

FA Vase First Qualifying Round
This season's FA Vase gets underway on Friday night. If you don't know, this is a national knockout competition for clubs in the ninth to 11th tiers with its final at Wembley in May. Last season Chertsey Town beat Cray Valley PM as two clubs from the London area made it to the final for the first time. Although not nearly as lucrative as FA Cup matches, the winner of each tie gets £550 and the loser £175

There are three ties on Friday night but without access to the ground they share, Clapton and Hackney Wick will both be playing their ties at neutral grounds some distance from their heartlands so crowds could be a bit thin on the ground. Park View are playing West Essex at their normal home ground on White Hart Lane just a few metres from the Wickers game at Haringey Borough. None of them are likely to get huge crowds so it's quite tough to recommend one but perhaps try Park View as they rarely get a mention on here and they could pull off an upset

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Redbridge @745pm - in many ways, you'll probably be better off going to this league match instead. It's an east London derby and the ground is only a short walk from Mile End Tube station whereas the games above are all a bit of trek on public transport

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Saturday 31 August

Premier League
Chelsea v Sheffield United @3pm - there are plenty of top flight games in London on Saturday but none of them look particularly compelling and the TV schedulers obviously agreed as they all kick-off at 3pm. The Blues have made an iffy start under Frank Lampard but managed to get their first win of the campaign at Norwich on Saturday. The Blades were founder members of the Premier League and saw striker Brian Deane score the first ever goal in the competition back in 1992 as they beat Manchester United on the opening day. However, their stay in the top flight was short-lived and this will be only their fourth season at this level following promotion at the end of last season. Their start has been as good as Chelsea's with four points from three games. Interestingly their last victory at Stamford Bridge was also during that inaugural Premier League season in 1992 so they're long overdue a win there. Tickets have sold out
Crystal Palace v Aston Villa @3pm - with both sides enjoying excellent wins over good opposition in their last games this could be pretty competitive. Selhurst Park is not a happy hunting ground for Villa - they've only won twice there since 1980 and I can easily see that record getting extended here. Tickets are only available to members
West Ham United v Norwich City @3pm - both sides are towards the wrong end of the table but Norwich have had a tougher start. Despite losses to Liverpool and Chelsea, the Canaries have won quite a few admirers with their style of play and they could give the Hammers an uncomfortable afternoon. Numerous tickets are available around the ground via the club's ticket exchange which just requires you to register to be able to buy

Championship
Brentford v Derby County @3pm - like many games in this division, it's quite hard to get excited by this one. Neither side have really impressed so far and both are in the bottom half but, as with all Bees games this year, it represents one of your last chances to see a game at Griffin Park before it gets demolished at the end of the season. However, because Derby have sold out their allocation, tickets have been restricted to members or those with a previous purchasing history
Millwall v Hull City @3pm - the Lions got blown away by Fulham in last week's big derby and did well to recover with a 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough on Saturday. This weekend they face another one of the division's strugglers who they have a pretty good record against - City have only won on three of their last 24 visits to Bermondsey. Tickets are in good supply and are decent value at between £22-27

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Wycombe Wanderers @3pm - the Dons narrowly avoided relegation last season and are really struggling again. With only one point from their opening five games they require a lot of improvement. Not so Wycombe who under former Wimbledon player Gareth Ainsworth have made a very bright start. Unbeaten so far, they're up in third and will start as strong favourites for what is effectively a derby. Standing tickets are available from £17

National League
Bromley v AFC Fylde @3pm - the hosts are spearheading London's charge for the NL title at the moment. Unbeaten in their opening seven games, they're up in second only a point behind newly promoted Woking. AFC Fylde made the play-off final last season and won the FA Trophy but they haven't recaptured that kind of form yet and are down in midtable
Sutton United v Maidenhead United @3pm - the U's are the next best in the division from a London perspective, sitting just outside the play-off places in ninth. The Magpies narrowly lost to Bromley on Monday but remained in the top five so should provide challenging opposition

National League South
Dartford v Hemel Hempstead Town @3pm - often among the contenders at this level, the Darts have made a poor start and find themselves in the relegation zone as we come to the end of August. Not so Hemel who are right up in second after winning five of their opening seven games
Wealdstone v Maidstone United @3pm - there could be a potential humdinger of a game at Grosvenor Vale where the current leaders host one of the biggest sides in the division. Kent club Maidstone were briefly members of the Football League between 1989-92 before financial ruin hit the club. After rebuilding and climbing the divisions again, they made it back to the fifth tier in 2016 before getting relegated back to this level for the start of this season. Currently unbeaten in five and likely to bring quite a few supporters, you should get a decent game with a decent atmosphere to match

Isthmian League Premier Division
Haringey Borough v East Thurrock United @3pm - after suffering a surprise defeat at Wingate & Finchley on Monday, Haringey lost top spot to Folkestone. On Saturday they welcome another member of the top four for one of the best games of the day at this level. ETU got relegated from the NLS last season but have responded well to life back at this level and recorded a derby win over Bowers & Pitsea to bring their Bank Holiday weekend to an enjoyable end

Southern League Premier Division South
Harrow Borough v Taunton Town @3pm - Boro had a fine time last season finishing seventh and getting to the Middlesex Senior Cup Final against Brentford B at Griffin Park. The club have managed to re-sign most of last season's squad and have come flying out of the blocks again to share the lead with Poole, Tiverton and Salisbury despite playing a game less than all of them. Next up they face a Taunton side who topped the table for a large part of last season before falling away and losing in the play-offs. This division is incredibly competitive and although the Somerset side are way down in 10th, they're only a point behind Harrow

Isthmian League North Division
Aveley v Maldon & Tiptree @3pm - these two Essex clubs finished second and third last season before both losing in the play-offs. The hosts haven't made a dream start but are well placed for another crack at a top-five finish. M&T, however, are top with a 100% record and will be tough to beat

FA Vase First Qualifying Round
AFC Spelthorne v Spelthorne Sports @3pm - undoubtedly the most unusual tie of the round is this match between Spelthorne Sports and what are effectively their reserve team who will host the game. I'm not aware of many other derbies of a similar nature having taken place in a senior cup competition. The ground is walkable from Sunbury station
Lopes Tavares v Harwich & Parkeston @3pm - a number of our local clubs will be making their first ever appearances in the FA Vase on Saturday including Newham based club Lopes Tavares who play fellow ECL club H&P who are also making their debut
New Salamis v Codicote @3pm - another new club in the Vase are New Salamis who moved up to the 10th tier over the summer. They take on a side who've slid down the divisions in recent seasons and I'm surprised to see them start this as underdogs
NW London v Harefield United @3pm - the hosts were playing 12th-tier football last season but got promoted to the MCFL Premier Division. Consequently they are one of the lowest ranked teams to be making their debut this season. They're playing this game at Hadley's ground and it's going to be tough as Harefield won the SSML Division 1 title with ease last season

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Sunday 1 September

Premier League
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur @430pm - little needs to be said to promote this game. In terms of London fixtures, this is probably as big as it gets. Both sides suffered defeats over the weekend, with Spurs' humbling at home by Newcastle arguably the shock of the season so far. According to my records, this will be the 186th meeting between the clubs in all competitions. Historically Arsenal have had the upper hand and on current form you might well have them as marginal favourites here. Tickets are of course sold out

FA Vase First Qualifying Round
Meridian VP v Hassocks @3pm - don't worry though there are other options with a couple of ties in this great competition taking place. The hosts welcome opposition from the level above them as they look to make a significant stride towards Wembley
Tooting Bec v Walton & Hersham @3pm - in the other tie there's an all CCL Division 1 clash taking place at the well appointed Imperial Fields which is a short walk from Mitcham tram stop

Women's friendly
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur @2pm - last season's FA Cup finalists West Ham host Spurs in their final friendly ahead of the new WSL campaign which begins next weekend. Tottenham moved up to the WSL after finishing as runners-up in the Championship but suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat to arch rivals Arsenal in a friendly on Sunday. Adult tickets are just £2

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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