Sunday, 15 December 2019

TLFG: 16-22 December 2019

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

With Christmas fast approaching, the football is showing signs of winding down.

There isn't a huge amount of midweek action, there's nothing on Thursday and only one women's game all week.

To keep you interested there are one or two oddities like Brentford B playing an Hibernian XI at Bedfont Sports, Stevenage switching their county cup tie to Hadley and Chelsea fielding a young side in the FA Youth Cup.

Edgware Town are giving away free season tickets to locals
On Saturday there's no Premier League, League One or League Two football in the capital so the focus will primarily be on the Championship and National League.

This time next week I hope to bring you the annual TLFG Christmas/New Year Special which should take you all the way through from 23 December-5 January.

It's usually packed with great local derbies and the Third Round of the FA Cup.

If you haven't done so yet, the Euro 2020 ticket ballot is open until 18 December so don't miss out if you want to get some.

Also, I've booked a trip Paris at the end of January to discuss the expansion of Non-League Day into Europe with the good people at 'So Foot' magazine.

The trip will also include a visit to the Stade Bauer to watch a Red Star game which I'm greatly looking forward to.

Lastly, many thanks to all those this year who have donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund - many, many thanks.

THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include games in the Premier League, EFL, FA Trophy and loads of other matches 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 - blue 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 16 December

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Brighton & Hove Albion @745pm - despite hailing from outside London, Brighton are one of Palace's biggest rivals, if not their biggest. With Selhurst on the same train line into the capital from the south coast, this is effectively the Seagulls' biggest derby and there have been one or two incidents in recent years. Only three points apart in the table, this should be as competitive as ever. Palace have only won three of the last 10 games between the sides since 2012 with the Sussex club winning both matches last season. Tickets are not available to non-members

Premier League 2 & Professional Development League
Earlier in the day there are a couple of U23 matches. West Ham host Newcastle at the Rush Green training complex which the Hammers' women also play at, whilst on the other side of London, near Heathrow, QPR entertain Cardiff at the club's training ground. Check all the details with the clubs on Monday morning as kick-off times and venues often change at short notice

FA Trophy First Round Replay
Aveley v Carshalton Athletic @745pm - the best non-league option of the night takes place at Parkside where the Millers will hope to continue their great run in this competition. As one of the lowest-ranked sides left, they did superbly well to hold Carshalton to a 3-3 draw on Saturday. They did exactly the same to Taunton in the previous round and then beat them in the replay - the Robins will need to be at or close to their best to progress

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Tuesday 17 December

Premier League International Cup
Arsenal v Dinamo Zagreb @7pm - this competition for some of the best U23 sides in Europe is still in the group stage at the moment. Both sides have so far beaten Villarreal so are joint leaders of Group A. This match is being played at Boreham Wood's stadium - as above, check all the details with Arsenal before you travel

Friendly
Brentford B v Hibernian XI @2pm - precise details of this game are a bit sketchy at the moment but from what I understand, these two will be playing each other at Bedfont Sports' ground near Heathrow at lunchtime

FA Trophy First Round Replays
Dagenham & Redbridge v Sutton United @745pm - after fighting out a 1-1 draw on Saturday, these two National League clubs will have another go at Victoria Road on Tuesday. On current form, you'd have to fancy the visitors
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Tonbridge Angels @745pm - there's an all-NLS affair at the Beveree where the promotion-chasing hosts should start as favourites

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Havant & Waterlooville @745pm - although they're the best supported club in the NLS, the Hamlet just can't buy a win at the moment. Their poor form continued on Saturday with a disappointing FA Trophy defeat to Isthmian League club Hornchurch. Next up are promotion contenders H&W - another tough evening looks likely

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Spelthorne Sports v Ascot United @745pm - one of the matches of the week at any level is this ninth-tier clash between the top two in the CCL. Four points separate the sides but second place Ascot have a game in hand so this match could be crucial in determining the eventual champions

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Wednesday 18 December

FA Youth Cup Third Round

Chelsea v Huddersfield Town @7pm - the Blues have dominated this U18 competition in recent years, winning it seven times since 2010. Last year, however, they didn't even make the final so they will want to get off to a good start here. This match is being played at Kingsmeadow and adult tickets are £3

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Friday 20 December

Friendly
Brentford B v Huddersfield Town U23 @12pm - the Bees' development side play their second game of the week at the club's training ground in Osterley. These matches are usually free entry but check all the details before you head off

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Saturday 21 December

Championship
Fulham v Leeds United @3pm - with no Premier League games in London on Saturday, the Championship is your next best option and there are some decent matches on offer. The best of the bunch is this one between sides who are desperate to go up. With three league titles, one FA Cup and one League Cup win and a large fanbase, Leeds are one of the biggest clubs in the country but they haven't played in the top flight since 2004 when financial problems looked set to ruin them. Last season they looked all set to return but fell away and lost in the play-offs. At the time of writing they are second and 10 points clear of the play-off zone so it will take another pretty spectacular collapse to rob them of promotion. Fulham were snapping at their heels a few weeks back but three straight defeats have seen them slip to sixth. With one stand closed for renovation, tickets are at a premium and are only on sale to people with at least a previous booking history
Queens Park Rangers v Charlton Athletic @3pm - if you can't get one for the match above then tickets for this derby shouldn't present you with any such problem. Although they're both from London, the rivalry isn't particularly intense so it never sells out. QPR have had a funny week, winning 2-0 at Birmingham on Wednesday before losing 5-3 to bottom club Barnsley on Saturday as their suspect defence returned. The Addicks have now gone 10 games without a win so QPR are pretty much the perfect team to play as they usually prove to be particularly generous in such circumstances
Millwall v Barnsley @3pm - in the day's other second-tier game, the Lions will look to extend their unbeaten run against the Tykes. Now only two points off a play-off place, Gary Rowett's side should fancy their chances against the division's bottom club. Tickets are on sale to non-members

National League
Boreham Wood v Harrogate Town @3pm - after a poor season last year and a slow start to this campaign, a good run of results has seen The Wood start to come back into play-off contention. They're now only one point behind the top seven and with Halifax losing their way and Harrogate just ahead of them, this has become an important game for both sides
Bromley v Eastleigh @3pm - the hosts are the capital's top non-league club. Third, at the time of writing, they could return to top spot with a big win here. Eastleigh recently took Crewe Alexandra to a replay in the FA Cup but they're midtable in the league and should be beaten
Sutton United v Wrexham @3pm - if the biggest non-league crowd of the day doesn't come at Hayes Lane, then it may well come at Gander Green Lane instead where two sides with great FA Cup pedigree of their own do battle. Usually among the promotion contenders, both sides have had disastrous seasons by their usually much higher standards. Both are in the bottom six but both are showing significant signs of improvement so it should be close

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Slough Town @3pm - after a very bad start to the season, Gary McCann's side have risen majestically up the table to find themselves only three points behind the play-off places. On Saturday they'll have their work cut out as the division's form team pay them a visit. Still only in second, Slough will be desperate to cut the gap on leaders Wealdstone to just four points

Isthmian League Premier Division
Kingstonian v Corinthian Casuals @3pm - the standout game of the day in the seventh tier is the Kingston derby. The sides groundshare in Tolworth and usually generate a decent crowd for these games. It's going pretty well for the K's at the moment after making it to the second round of the FA Cup and FA Trophy. Their league position could do with some improvement but those cup runs have seen several games postponed and they have games in hand as a result. Sadly for the Casuals, they've only won one league game all season and are bottom of the division

Isthmian League South Central
Uxbridge v Hanwell Town @3pm - in the eighth tier it's all about the top four clash between these two west London rivals. Both are having seasons to remember and could very conceivably go up

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Beckenham Town v AFC Croydon Athletic @3pm - the Becks have been top for most of the season and they'll hope to extend their lead to anything up to nine points by winning this derby. AFC Croydon are struggling and need the points to keep them just above the relegation zone

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Rayners Lane v St Panteleimon @3pm - the hosts have recently opened their ground after a multi-million pound refurbishment and the reviews are pretty good. On the pitch, Rayners Lane are also doing well and should be in with a shout of promotion. Playing their home games in nearby Greenford, leaders St Panteleimon have only lost once all season and will start as strong favourites

Middlesex County League Premier Division
Clapton CFC v Kensington Dragons @2pm - the Tons missed their chance to climb the table on Saturday after seeing their game against Indian Gymkhana fall foul of the weather. They stayed in sixth and still have the games in hand to potentially put them top. On Saturday they host my local non-league side who play their games at Wormwood Scrubs. The Dragons are mired in a relegation battle but have several games in hand which will hopefully pull them clear

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Sunday 22 December

Premier League
Watford v Manchester United @2pm - with only one league win all season things are looking pretty grim for the Hornets and new boss Nigel Pearson. Their unsurprising 2-0 loss at Liverpool on Saturday saw them end the day six points adrift of safety and teams who find themselves bottom at Christmas rarely recover. United are building a decent unbeaten run but they're still pretty underwhelming by their usually high standards, with a draw against a struggling Everton side on Sunday nothing to shout about. Tickets are not available to non-members
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea @430pm - the week ends with its biggest match as two giants of the English game meet at the THS. Aside from it being a huge derby, it's even more notable this year as Spurs are now managed by Jose Mourinho who really made his name as boss of the Blues. There were a lot of groans following his appointment but he's won five of his first seven games, lifting Tottenham to fifth and through to the knockout stage of the Champions League. After a great start, Frank Lampard's Chelsea are starting to struggle. Limited by a transfer ban, Chelsea's squad isn't as strong as it could be and they've now lost four of their last five league games, including Saturday's home defeat by AFC Bournemouth. Tickets are not available to non-members

Isthmian League South East
Phoenix Sports v Sittingbourne @3pm - if you can't get tickets for either of the above, there's a random bit of Isthmian League action to be enjoyed in south-east London. Neither side are setting the world alight but Phoenix should be able to challenge for the play-offs if they get their act together

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.

6 comments:

  1. Nice to read that you're going to meet the SoFoot guys. I have been reading them for nearly 10 years now (and TLFG for nearly 4 years). Nice to see that the Non League Day is spreading to France I have watched the highlights of the games played in my native Brittany and it looked great

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