Monday, 4 November 2019

TLFG: 4-10 November 2019

Greetings one and all and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

Apologies for the late publication this week - I was simply too tired to finish it off last night.

The irony of writing this blog is it takes so much time that you end up having to make the decision whether to go to a live game or put together the latest piece.

On Saturday I had planned to go to a game but the weather was so bad that many matches got called off and having got really wet and cold doing St Albans parkrun in the morning, I didn't fancy getting wet and miserable again.

So instead I made a short notice decision to go to the FA Vase tie between Southall and Seaford Town on Sunday instead.

Sandro Fernandes scores Southall's third as they beat Seaford Town in the FA Vase

The 'All groundshare at Ashford Town (Middlesex) whose Short Lane ground has always seemed to be a bit of a mission to get to on public transport but I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go.

The stadium is near Heathrow Airport so I got the Piccadilly Line to Terminal 4 and then caught the 482 bus to Long Lane and walked down. I opted for Heathrow rather than Hatton Cross because this bus and the 490 are both totally free to use around the airport perimeter which is a bit of a bargain.

The ground itself is famous for having what I presume are fuel silos/tanks for Heathrow's airliners at one end, giving it a really industrial feel.

Southall play in the ninth tier Combined Counties League and have made good progress during the time I've been writing this blog, earning two promotions despite playing at three different grounds.

Seaford play in the 10th tier but put themselves about robustly throughout the game, picking up several bookings.

The hosts were definitely the better side, with two or three really talented players and eventually played out a 3-1 win to move into the Third Round.

The west London club have a decent record in this competition, making the quarter-finals in 2017 and the final way back in 1986 so maybe this could be their year again.

In other news, my club Harrow Borough travelled down to Dorset on Saturday to play Dorchester Town in a Southern League game.

They nicked a 2-1 win with a last-minute goal but it later emerged that Boro's black players had been subjected to monkey chants during the game. To their credit, Dorchester reported the incident to Kick It Out and the police promptly after the game.

After the much publicised trouble at Haringey Borough the other week, it was really disheartening to hear about more problems in the non-league game.

Right, I think that's about it from me.

As always, have a great week and enjoy your football watching. I'm off to see the Lionesses play Germany at Wembley on Saturday and might squeeze in another game if I can.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include action in the Champions League, Premier League, EFL and the First Round of the FA Cup plus loads of action in our local non-league competitions. 

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 4 November

Professional Development League
As usual, the week gets underway with some U23 football. However, the pick of the games between Millwall and Charlton is taking place at the Lions' training ground which isn't open to the public. TLFG reader Chris H did manage to get in last week because he knew one of the players and got on the guest list but he did advise that one of the goals is just a few feet from the perimeter fence of the ground and you can stand outside and look in. Alternatively, if you're prepared to make a short journey outside London then Watford are playing Ipswich at St Albans City where I believe it is £3 to get in

Essex Senior Cup Third Round
Redbridge v Barking @745pm - if the pitch is up to it, the best non-league option of the day is this east London derby in the Essex Senior Cup. The visitors play a level above the hosts so should start as favourites. Oakside is one of the easiest stadiums in London to get to by public transport as it's right next to Barkingside Tube station on the Central Line

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Tuesday 5 November

Champions League
Chelsea v Ajax @8pm - the game of the day sees the Blues look to take a big step towards qualification for the knockout phase. Having beaten the Dutch giants in Amsterdam two weeks ago, the west London club should fancy their chances of picking up another three points. I had my reservations about Frank Lampard's appointment but he seems to be getting quite a lot right with this Chelsea side at the moment, winning eight of the last 10 games in all competitions. This match is not sold out but you will need to be a member or know one who can buy for you

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Dartford @745pm - after decidedly dodgy starts both of these TLFG clubs are now on the rise. With eight defeats from their first 11 games, Hampton manager Gary McCann must have been feeling the pressure. However, they've now won four on the bounce to become the form team of the division and the Darts will have to be at their best. With new boss Steve King in charge their fortunes are starting to turn around too and they enjoyed a solid 2-0 win at Eastbourne Borough on Saturday

FA Vase Second Round
Abbey Rangers v Ascot United @745pm - this tie between two of the top clubs in the Combined Counties League got postponed on Saturday so you've got another chance to catch what should be a fine game. Abbey play about halfway between Chertsey and Addlestone stations in Surrey

Middlesex County League Premier Division
Clapton CFC v NW London @745pm - there's a rare chance to see a bit of 11th tier action on Tuesday as the Tons play their rearranged game against NW London. With a crowd of 909 on Non-League Day and over a thousand for their title decider last season, Clapton CFC must be the biggest or at least the best supported club at this level anywhere in the country. Although midweek attendances are usually well down on this, they could still get 200 which would be way more than many of the other far more senior non-league teams playing on Tuesday

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Wednesday 6 November

EFL Trophy

Leyton Orient v Brighton & Hove Albion U21 @745pm - in theory this match should see the O's first XI take on a development side from Brighton. In reality, the hosts may well field quite a few of their own youngsters in what has become a very devalued competition. Accordingly, adult tickets are available from just £7

FA Trophy Preliminary Round
Grays Athletic v Bedfont Sports @745pm - the hosts have had a really tough time in FA competitions this season. After being thrown out of the FA Cup for accidentally fielding an ineligible player who hadn't given them all his personal info, they are now having to re-play this tie because their opponents had a similar, although not identical, thing happen but they didn't get thrown out. At this stage, the competition is now two rounds further down the line so this tie is holding everything up. As a result, the winners will travel to Hitchin on Saturday and then the winners of that will play in the next round on Monday, a week today. What a mess!

SCEFL Challenge Cup
Lewisham Borough v Forest Hill Park @745pm - I don't usually highlight league and county cup games at this stage but this is a groundshare derby and as such, it's always worth a mention

SSML Division 1 Cup
New Salamis v St Panteleimon @745pm - likewise this game also grabbed my attention as it features two clubs with their roots in the Greek/Cypriot community. Both are new to 10th level football but both are in the SSML Division 1's top three and doing really well. I really fancy this one - it's being played at Enfield Town's ground if you're interested in going

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Friday 8 November

FA Cup First Round

Dulwich Hamlet v Carlisle United @755pm - with all six preliminary and qualifying rounds out of the way, the remaining non-league teams get to join all those from League One and League Two in the so-called First Round proper. For a club of Dulwich's size, their FA Cup record is pretty rubbish - this will be the first time they've made this stage since 1998. To get this far they've had to beat Bognor Regis, Eastbourne Borough and Havant & Waterlooville so it hasn't been an easy ride by any means. On Friday they welcome Carlisle who are in the lower reaches of League Two so the cupset potential is there for all to see, not least the good people at BBC Sport who have selected it as their live TV game. The money they get for being televised and all the prize money received up to this point should run well into six figures which shows just how important this competition is for non-league clubs. Tickets go on general sale from 6pm today but you will need to buy them in person from the club and there are only 157 left! It will almost certainly sell out so don't bother going to the match without one

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Woodford Town @745pm - in the highly likely event you miss out on a ticket for the above, this is your next best option. It's only a midtable clash but it is a derby and, as we mentioned earlier, the ground is easily accessible by public transport unlike the other two games taking place on Friday

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Saturday 9 November

Women's International Friendly
England v Germany @530pm - the biggest crowd of the day will be at Wembley where it's a sell out for this women's game which I think is unprecedented - it's a pretty big deal whatever. With adult tickets at £10 and U16s getting in for a quid I decided to grab a couple so my daughter and I will be heading to the national stadium for a combined price of £11. The Lionesses did really well to make it to the World Cup semi-finals in the summer but Germany who didn't get that far are still, according to the Fifa rankings, Europe's top side. Phil Neville's team are also in rather mediocre form at the moment so it's going to be tough

Premier League
Chelsea v Crystal Palace @1230pm - before all that, we have the small matter of a London derby. As I mentioned above, the Blues are in pretty decent form at the moment and under normal circumstances would start as strong favourites. However, Roy Hodgson has got his Palace side playing with some belief and although winless in three, they have been capable of taking points off the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United so far this season. They have also won on two of their last five visits to Stamford Bridge which is more than most teams can boast. Tickets have sold out
Tottenham Hotspur v Sheffield United @3pm - when this fixture was announced back in the summer, you'd have been hard pushed to predict anything other than a home win. Three months into the new season and it is the newly promoted Blades who are a top-six club and Spurs who are midtable also-rans. Among the title challengers in recent years, Tottenham are currently winless in four and 18 points behind league leaders Liverpool after only 11 games. They're also 10 points off the top four and only five points above the relegation zone - in short it's been a bit of a disaster by their high standards. Tickets are not available to non-members

Championship
Millwall v Charlton Athletic @3pm - we've reached the fourth match on our list for Saturday and this is sold out too. It's a big local derby so that's no surprise but it was on general sale until quite recently. Charlton have had much the better season so far but both clubs' form is fairly similar so it should be a closely fought cracker of a game
Queens Park Rangers v Middlesbrough @3pm - which all means that if you haven't got a ticket yet, your best option is this match at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium. If you're visiting London, QPR will rarely let you down when it comes to ticket availability. Even the big derby against Brentford last week didn't sell out, despite the fact Mark Warburton's side have been playing some really good stuff. Boro have had a shocking season and are down in the bottom three

FA Cup First Round
AFC Wimbledon v Doncaster Rovers @3pm - there's all-League One affair at Kingsmeadow where the Dons will look to keep the positive vibes going under new boss Glyn Hodges who has now taken them out of the relegation zone after their very poor start. Doncaster had a reasonable run in the competition last season and should start as favourites. Tickets are available
Carshalton Athletic v Boston United @3pm - the Robins' FA Cup record is even worse than Dulwich's with this being their first time at this stage since 1997. With wins over Bracknell, Harrow, Lowestoft and Dagenham & Redbridge, the south London club have had to work hard to get this far and they should feel confident of giving sixth-tier club Boston an uncomfortable afternoon. Tickets are £10 and available on arrival

National League South
Wealdstone v Eastbourne Borough @3pm - if they win this and results go their way, the Stones could end the day 10 points clear at the top. Eastbourne are fighting the drop so a home win looks highly likely

Isthmian League South Central
Hanwell Town v Ware @3pm - this eighth-tier division is incredibly tight at the top with three points separating the top five. These clubs are two of the contenders so a win for either could be crucial

CCL Premier Division
Colliers Wood United v Ascot United @3pm - there's an even bigger game in the CCL where two of the top three meet in SW20

Essex Senior League
Walthamstow v Saffron Walden Town @3pm - it's third versus second at Wadham Lodge as the big games continue in the ninth tier

CCL Division 1
Bedfont & Feltham v Jersey Bulls @1pm - in the 10th tier, the newly formed Jersey side have been unstoppable since entering English football at the start of the season and have won all 13 of their league games so far. It doesn't look good for the hosts but who knows? Could they be the first team to beat them???

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Sunday 10 November

FA Cup First Round
Leyton Orient v Maldon & Tiptree @1245pm - Essex minnows M&T are having a great season in the Isthmian North but they've never made it this far in the FA Cup so it's a huge day for the club. The O's play four levels above their opponents so anything less than a win will be quite an upset. Tickets are available from £10 and it's unlikely to sell out
Barnet v Fleetwood Town @1245pm - the Bees made it to the Fourth Round last year beating Bristol Rovers and Sheffield United in the process. Doing well enough in the National League this season, they should have a decent chance against Joey Barton's Fleetwood side. Tickets are available
Hayes & Yeading United v Oxford United @215pm - following on from these two we have a real David and Goliath clash at the SkyEx Stadium in west London. After overcoming Poole Town in the last round, H&YU have landed a juicy home tie against a former top-flight side who are among the frontrunners in League One. This is also being televised but tickets have sold out


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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