Sunday, 5 January 2020

TLFG: 6-12 January 2020

Happy New Year - it's 2020 and TLFG is back!

I don't know about you but the last 20 years have just flown by and my memories of the '90s are also strong.

Is it really 30 years since Italia 90 and England's valiant run to the semi-finals?

I'm afraid it is.

One thing I vowed to do from day one of that tournament was to visit the San Siro - I remember being blown away seeing it on TV for the first time as it hosted the opening game between Argentina and Cameroon.

Luckily enough I did make it in 1999 to see Inter beat Fiorentina 2-0 in a league game with the original Ronaldo scoring a couple of penalties.

Baggio, Batistuta, Zanetti, Toldo, Rui Costa and Paulo Sousa were just some of the other names on show that night - both XIs were absolutely packed with notables. Looking back I don't think I appreciated just how strong the sides were as I only remember it for Ronaldo and Batistuta.

'Two Men In Search...' pay a visit to Hampton & Richmond Borough 

On the topic of European football, work commitments mean my next game is likely to be my trip to Paris to watch Red Star at the end of the month. I haven't seen a match overseas since watching Genk v Rapid Vienna in the Europa League in 2016 so I'm really looking forward to it.

So how was your festive period? Did you gorge on food and football or just manage the odd nibble of action here and there.

After a rubbish end to 2019, QPR have come flying out of the traps at the start of 2020 enjoying back-to-back 6-1 and 5-1 wins over Cardiff and Swansea respectively.

Apparently the performances haven't been that different to most weeks, they've just been taking their chances - more of the same against Brentford on Saturday please.

Lastly, many thanks as always to those who have donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund. It makes writing this even more worthwhile so 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
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 6 January

FA Cup Third Round
Arsenal v Leeds United @756pm - the week gets underway with an FA Cup tie at the Emirates. The Gunners are the most successful team in the competition's history and given their poor showing in the league, you'd think they'd make it a big priority this season. Leeds are pushing hard for promotion back to the Premier League so they might be tempted to rest one or two for this one but there will be a packed away end and anything's possible. Tickets are not available to non-members

Premier League 2 & Professional Development League
There are numerous U23 matches on Monday in the afternoon and evening - the best in London is West Ham's game against Manchester United at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground at 7pm. If you're prepared to travel a bit beyond London's boundaries, then Tottenham v Chelsea at Stevenage could be well worth a watch

Velocity Trophy
Haringey Borough v Maldon & Tiptree @745pm - in the competition formerly known as the Isthmian League Cup, two sides who did really well in the FA Cup do battle at Coles Park. Like most league cups, sides often field weakened sides and it might well be the same here

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Tuesday 7 January

Kent Senior Cup Second Round
Bromley v Gillingham @745pm - London's top ranked non-league club play host to the League One Gills in this county cup game. With promotion the main priority for the hosts, this could well turn into a development game for both sides

Isthmian League South East
VCD Athletic v Chichester City @745pm - there are a few non-league games on Tuesday but not many really grab me. This is notable as it features Chichester the minnows who had such a great run in the FA Cup earlier this season. As a result they have four games in hand and could end up among the frontrunners if they win them

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Wednesday 8 January

FA Youth Cup Fourth Round

Millwall v Fleetwood Town @7pm - have you always wanted to visit the Den? Well now's your chance to do it on the cheap as this U18 game is being played there. Tickets are £5

Friendly
Ilford v Romford @745pm - although only a friendly, this hastily arranged local derby is generating quite a bit of interest. Romford have recently been taken over by the high profile and shall we say 'eccentric' former Billericay owner Glenn Tamplin. He's completely revamped the Isthmian League side's squad with players from higher levels but will they be able to gel successfully?

ECL Division 1 South
Lopes Tavares v Barkingside @745pm - the hosts have been top pretty much all season but they haven't played for a while and Little Oakley have taken their place. Still only a point behind with three games in hand, they will return to the summit with a win

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Thursday 9 January

FA Youth Cup Fourth Round
Arsenal v Southampton @7pm - the Gunners' U18 side take centre stage on Thursday night as they host the Saints at Boreham Wood

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Friday 10 January

Premier League 2
Fulham v Stoke City @7pm - the pick of the action on Friday would appear to be this U23 match at Craven Cottage. Adults tickets are £3 on the gate

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Ilford @745pm - if you'd prefer a non-league alternative, get on a Central Line train to Barkingside and enjoy this east London derby at Oakside

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Saturday 11 January

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool @530pm - there are some big old games in London on Saturday with this one dominating proceedings at the end of the day. With Liverpool on the verge of 'champions elect' status already given their amazing form and 13-point lead, Spurs will have to be at their very best to get something out of this match. The north Londoners are a shadow of last year's side and they're now without the injured Harry Kane so it's going to be very tough. Tickets are not available to non-members
Crystal Palace v Arsenal @1230pm - earlier in the day, there's a derby at Selhurst Park. Normally you'd look at this game and think Arsenal would start as favourites but not so this time. Palace are currently a point ahead of the Gunners and should be confident of getting something here. Tickets are not available to non-members
Chelsea v Burnley @3pm - sandwiched between these two, there's also a game at Stamford Bridge where the Blues will look to consolidate their place in the top four. Burnley have taken four points from their last two visits to Chelsea so Frank Lampard's side could be in for a rough ride. Tickets are not available to non-members

Championship
Brentford v Queens Park Rangers @1230pm - over in west London there's a game of huge significance as the Bees prepare to host local rivals QPR in the last ever derby between the two before Griffin Park closes at the end of the season. Although a smaller club on paper, Brentford have dominated these games in recent years and are actually 28-23 up in the historical head-to-head which began in 1920. A home win looks highly likely again but Rangers come into this on the back of 6-1 and 5-1 wins over Cardiff and Swansea respectively so who knows? Tickets are not available to non-members
Charlton Athletic v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - with the four games above all hard to get tickets for, this is the most realistic/best option for a casual fan or football tourist wanting to see a pro game on Saturday. It's not a bad one either as the Addicks host the division's joint leaders. Lee Bowyer's side ended their lengthy winless run with a home victory over Bristol City on Boxing Day but have since lost two league games, another cup game to West Brom and are sliding ever closer to the bottom three. Tickets are available to non-members

League Two
Leyton Orient v Grismby Town @3pm - the O's didn't win over the Christmas/New Year period and are back in the bottom six. Grimsby were down there with them but a win for new boss Ian Holloway, which extended their unbeaten run to four games, lifted them to up to 17th on Saturday. Tickets are available to non-members

Premier League 2
Chelsea v Manchester City @12pm - if you're prepared to travel beyond London to Aldershot, then you can catch this U23 game before combining it with a local non-league game at the likes of Farnborough or Farnham Town

FA Trophy Second Round
This knockout competition for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers with its final at Wembley is down to its last 32. At this stage, the draw is open and no longer regionalised 
Hornchurch v Aveley @3pm - given they could have drawn a side from Devon or Yorkshire, these two Essex clubs did well to end up getting paired together. The Urchins play in the division above so should start as favourites but the Millers, one of the lowest ranked teams left in the competition, have caused a number of upsets already and could very conceivably win again
Kingstonian v Leamington @3pm - the K's made it to the second round of the FA Cup and are having a fine run in this competition too. This time they welcome National League North side Leamington, a division above, so it could be tough. However, given they beat National League Woking in the last round, they shouldn't fear anything here
Dorking Wanderers v Stockport County @3pm - just beyond London's boundaries there's a tie that can't be ignored as the hosts prepare for possibly the biggest match in their history. The National League South side have risen rapidly through the divisions in recent seasons and now get to host a club who were a second tier side earlier this century. Tickets are available for £12 and must be booked online in advance - no sales on the day

National League South
Wealdstone v Welling United @3pm - after winning their top-two clash against Slough, the Stones then went and lost to midtable Oxford City to see their lead cut to four points. Next up is this crosstown derby against the Wings. Welling are being kept out of the relegation zone by virtue of their goal difference with four consecutive defeats leaving them in a perilous position

Southern League Premier Division South
Harrow Borough v Hayes & Yeading United @3pm - in the seventh tier we've got a local derby to look forward to. With wins over Hendon and Walton Casuals and a draw with Merthyr, Harrow's form has improved dramatically since Boxing Day ending a terrible run that had seen them slide down the table. H&YU are also in good form, taking 10 points from their last five games including a draw with title chasing Tiverton. Boro won 3-2 in the reciprocal fixture back in August so here's hoping for another entertaining game

Isthmian League South Central
Tooting & Mitcham United v Uxbridge @3pm - two of the division's top six meet at Imperial Fields for what should be the game of the day in the eighth tier. Although eight points behind leaders Ware, Tooting have four games in hand which means they're still very much in title contention. Uxbridge also have two games in hand so a play-off spot is still very much in their sights

SCEFL Premier Division
Beckenham Town v Sheppey United @3pm - with only two wins from five games, the Becks' hold on top spot is looking a bit shaky. On Saturday they welcome one of their main challengers who could end up just a point behind if they win here

CCL Division 1
Bedfont & Feltham v Tooting Bec @3pm - with new boys Jersey Bulls so far out in front already, it's now all about who will get the other remaining promotion spots. As it stands, both of these sides are in the top four and on course to join the Channel Islanders in the Premier Division but Sandhurst are breathing down the necks of the Bec and they can't afford too many slip ups

MCFL Premier Division
Clapton CFC v PFC Victoria London @2pm - I went to watch Polish club PFC Victoria on Non-League Day 2017 whilst they were still a 12th-tier side and they managed to pull in a couple of hundred fans, some of whom indulged in a bit of naughty pyro. On Saturday they travel to the biggest club in the division who draw several hundred for every game and have been known to let off the odd smoke bomb themselves. Being played at Wadham Lodge in Walthamstow, a lively crowd of several hundred will make you feel like you're watching a game at a much higher level. Entry is by donation
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Sunday 12 January

FA Women's Super League
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United @2pm - Sunday afternoon in London is dominated by women's football with matches all the way down to the fifth tier. In the top flight, this derby at Barnet's ground looks like the best on offer. Newly promoted Tottenham have more than held their own at this level and sit snugly in midtable where they should finish. The Hammers, last season's beaten FA Cup finalists, are just behind them but are in better form and will move above Spurs on goal difference if they win. Tickets are only £6.50 if bought in advance or £8 on the day
Chelsea v Bristol City @2pm - in the other game, the title chasing Blues should pick up a pretty comfortable three points against the Robins at Kingsmeadow. The West Country side have the leakiest defence in the league and are conceding an average of three goals a game. Tickets to watch Chelsea are £9 for adults

Friendly
South Western Railway v Gatwick Express @3pm - for the groundhoppers among you, there's a chance to take in this train-crew match at Fisher's ground in Rotherhithe. SWR have been going for a year now whilst Gatwick Express have only just formed. Admission is free and SWR pin badges are available

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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