Sunday, 20 September 2020

TLFG: 21-27 September 2020

So here we are again, another week has flown by and we're on to the next one.

Despite rapidly rising Covid-19 infections, football continues to take place with EFL clubs, including Charlton Athletic, hosting test games and the National League following suit with some matches over next few days.

A couple of those are taking place locally at Dagenham & Redbridge and Dartford. Tickets are on sale for the former but there was no news at the time of writing about availability at the Darts - see the Daily Digest below for more details.

My football week was pretty good with a rare midweek trip to North Greenford United v Edgware Town being the highlight.

The next round of the FA Cup gets underway on Monday

I took a friend who hadn't been to a non-league game for years and he was treated to a very entertaining spectacle as the hosts won 3-1 courtesy of three fantastic goals.

Equally impressive was the warm welcome we were given by all the club staff we came into contact with and it was also heart warming to see several tables weighed down with tins and other produce after a very successful foodbank appeal.

My friend thoroughly enjoyed himself and I also got to meet long term TLFG reader and fellow QPR fan Chris H who was also in attendance.

If I play my cards right, I will hopefully get out for another midweek trip. On Wednesday, Wingate & Finchley take on Folkestone Invicta in the FA Cup which I'm hoping will be well worth a watch.

I used to go fairly regularly to W&F when this blog started but it's been a few years so I'm looking forward to it.

I also continued my participation in a virtual run around 'the 92' with the QPR Runners group on Saturday. As a group we're trying to run the 3,000+km as quickly as we can. Three of us did a QPR-Fulham-Chelsea-QPR loop last weekend, whilst on Saturday we did another loop from QPR to Brentford and back. Overall, members of our small Facebook group have covered over 1,400km in eight days which is pretty amazing - well done all.

Thanks this week to Chris H, mentioned above, and Simon K who donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund. Cheers gents.

THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in the FA Cup, FA Trophy, Isthmian League, Southern League and Women's National League. There are also games at higher levels but none of them are open to the public.

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. However, capacity restrictions are currently in place at all grounds because of Covid-19 meaning only clubs from the seventh tier and below can currently admit spectators.

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 21 September

FA Cup First Round Qualifying
The bulk of the midweek action is in the FA Cup with 16 ties between Monday and Wednesday involving our local sides. At this stage of the draw, all the seventh tier clubs join the action alongside the remaining ones from the lower tiers. The winners of each tie receive £2,250 and the losers £750.

Carshalton Athletic v Faversham Town @745pm - the Robins are among the contenders for the Isthmian League title so should start as strong favourites against Faversham Town, from a level below, after soundly beating Potters Bar in their opening league game. Tickets are available and you're strongly advised to buy online in advance as their matches are selling out

New Salamis v Brentwood Town @745pm - Cypriot side New Salamis are making their debut in the FA Cup this season and have notched a couple of tidy wins to get this far. The 10th tier side, who play their games at Haringey Borough, face a step up in class in Isthmian League Brentwood and it would be one of the results of the round if they were to win. The chances of you getting in are slim - I understand from the club that there have been a few returns but you can only get them from team's clubhouse on Myddleton Road in Bowes Park

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Tuesday 22 September

Friendlies
The National League announced some test games a few days ago and two of them are taking place in TLFG's catchment area on Tuesday. Dagenham & Redbridge host FA Trophy finalists Concord Rangers whilst Dartford entertain Dover Athletic. Both games are limited to 1,000 spectators so buying in advance is strongly advised if not obligatory. At the time of writing, there are some still available at Dagenham (click here) whilst Dartford still haven't put any on sale which suggests they were caught on the hop by the selection of their game. Check their site regularly for updates

FA Cup First Round Qualifying
Bedfont Sports v Lewes @745pm - the hosts began their league campaign with a narrow 1-0 defeat at title contenders Hanwell on Saturday which although disappointing should give them some heart that it was that close. On Tuesday they welcome former fifth tier club Lewes for what would appear to be a winnable tie. The Rooks aren't the side they once were and lost 4-1 at Enfield Town on Saturday. At the time of writing, very little ticketing info is available so check the club's website for updates
Chertsey Town v Leatherhead @745pm - when I saw this tie, it immediately stood out for me. Similar to the match above, it's an eighth tier versus seventh tier fixture. Both clubs have great cup pedigree - Chertsey are the reigning FA Vase holders whilst Leatherhead have had numerous runs into the so-called 'proper' rounds of the FA Cup. The Curfews sold out their Preliminary Round match and should get a decent crowd here so buy in advance to avoid disappointment
Walthamstow v St Margaretsbury @745pm - I've highlighted this all-ESL tie simply to give you the chance to run the rule over the Stow who seem like a club on the up. Among the pre-season favourites for the ESL title, the club from E17 are starting to grow their fanbase. They drew nearly 300 for their Extra Preliminary Round tie against London Lions which is a significant attendance for a club in the ninth tier. Walthamstow got through the last round against Cockfosters on penalties and also required spot-kicks in their FA Vase win on Saturday. Tickets are on sale here

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Wednesday 23 September

FA Cup First Round Qualifying
Wingate & Finchley v Folkestone Invicta @745pm - the tie of the night is this clash between two Isthmian League Premier Division teams. Despite playing at the same level, it's a bit of a David v Goliath match-up. Wingate have been a seventh-tier side since 2011 but have really struggled to attract crowds with an average of only 123 last season as they fought relegation. Somehow, they always manage to stay up and on Wednesday they welcome Folkestone who pull in crowds five times the size of theirs. The Kent club were in the top five when the 2019/20 season ended early so it will take quite an effort to beat them. Tickets are on sale and if you buy in advance you get a free e-programme  
Cray Wanderers v Fisher @745pm - London's oldest football club begin their FA Cup campaign with a home tie against Rotherhithe outfit Fisher. On paper, this looks like a home banker. Cray play two levels above the Fish and are among the title contenders, something they underlined by thrashing Kingstonian 5-1 on opening day. However, the visitors have only lost one of the six games they've played this season and caused a cupset by beating Tooting & Mitcham in the last round. Tickets are available in advance
Cray Valley PM v Burgess Hill Town @745pm - CVPM seem to be another club to keep an eye on this season. They've made good progress in the last couple of years, made the FA Vase final at Wembley in 2019 and were on course for another promotion last season before Covid-19 intervened. They've made a number of decent signings over the summer and got a decent 0-0 draw at title rivals Hastings United on Saturday. BHT are no more than a midtable side in the same division as them and should be beaten. Tickets should be available on the door
Sutton Common Rovers v Metropolitan Police @745pm - there's potential for a cupset here as ninth tier SCR welcome a side from two levels above them. The hosts are unbeaten so far this season and have rattled in a decent number of goals in the process. The Met won their opening league fixture against Yate but will have to avoid complacency at all costs. The capacity of this match at Gander Green Lane has been limited to 300 so you're again advised to buy online in advance 

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Friday 25 September

Essex Senior League
West Essex v Walthamstow @745pm - the pick of the night's action is this ninth-tier match at Mayesbrook Park. Given that landlords Barking are now groundsharing with two clubs, we can expect West Essex to become a regular of the Friday night schedule throughout the season. Despite a humbling by New Salamis in the FA Cup, West Essex have made a solid start to this campaign and are up in fourth after going three games unbeaten. The Stow are underperforming slightly with one win from three league games and are well down the table 

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Saturday 26 September

Seventh tier

Isthmian League Premier Division
Haringey Borough v Bognor Regis Town @3pm - north London club Haringey began their league campaign with a useful 2-1 win at Corinthian Casuals on opening day. The White Hart Lane club have challenged for promotion in recent seasons but fell away into midtable last season so it will be interesting to see how they fare this time. Bognor are usually around the play-off places and had a recent but unsuccessful spell in the National League South - they started off with a draw at Bishop's Stortford
Kingstonian v Worthing @3pm - as mentioned above, the K's got thrashed at Cray on Saturday and it won't get any easier here as they welcome the side who were top when the 2019/20 season came to an end. The Sussex side won 2-1 at promotion rivals Folkestone on Saturday to emphasise their title credentials. Tickets can be bought here

Southern League Premier Division South
Harrow Borough v Salisbury @3pm - the Boro started their season with a close to 600-mile round trip to Cornwall to play the highly fancied Truro City. Despite an excellent fight, they lost 1-0 to a controversial goal in the latter stages of the game which must have been sickening. On Saturday they welcome another one of the biggest clubs in the division for another tough game. Managed by Steve Claridge, Salisbury only managed a draw with Hendon on Saturday. Tickets are available in advance
Hendon v Truro City @3pm - a short journey to the north-west, it's the Greens' turn to take on Truro. Buoyed by their solid point on the road at Salisbury, they should fancy their chances of taking another point here. Tickets are available in advance

Eighth tier

FA Trophy First Round Qualifying
Northwood v Basildon United @3pm - the FA Trophy, for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers, starts on Saturday. Due to an uneven number of clubs, this 34-team mini round kicks things off and only one London club are hosting a tie. Both sides play in the Isthmian League and lost their opening league games so I doubt there will be much to choose between them. 

Isthmian League North Division
Romford v Aveley @3pm - playing their first league game of their new groundshare at Barking, Romford will hope for a much better season than the last one. Following the investment of Glenn Tamplin, who famously spent loads on Billericay Town, a lot more is expected of the east London club. Aveley were among the frontrunners last season and started with a win on Saturday. There's also a bit of derby feel to this one too. 

Isthmian League South Central Division
Uxbridge v Bracknell Town @3pm - both sides finished in the top six last season so we should get a competitive game here. Bracknell started with a tidy 2-0 win over Chipstead whilst Uxbridge narrowly lost at Chertsey who should also be among the promotion contenders

Isthmian League South East Division
Whyteleafe v Chichester City @3pm - the Leafe had a decent season and were pushing for a play-off spot when the season ended. They enjoyed an emphatic 4-1 win at Herne Bay on Saturday to give them great confidence going into this one. Chichester were also well placed for a shot at the play-offs last year and famously made it to the second round of the FA Cup

Ninth tier

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Hanworth Villa v Ascot United @3pm - the Villains are unbeaten in three and have become the top-ranked London club in the CCL, a drastic improvement on their struggles of last season. Ascot were top when the league ended early and have picked up where they left off and are already two points clear

Tenth tier

Combined Counties League Division 1
Walton & Hersham v Farnham Town @3pm - based on last season's standings, this match between the sides who finished in third and second should be a good one. Both sides have started well again, with the hosts top at the time of writing

Eleventh tier

Middlesex County Football League Premier Division
Clapton CFC v Indian Gymkhana Club @3pm - the Tons' league campaign finally gets underway on Saturday with this match. Wadham Lodge regularly saw crowds of 400+ for their matches last season which made them, to my knowledge, the best supported club in the 11th tier anywhere in the country. Covid-19 restrictions will probably see admission capped at a lower level with only 250 allowed to their friendly against NW London. Ticket details haven't been released yet so check their website for updates - it could well sell out

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Sunday 27 September

Women's National League Southern Premier Division
Hounslow v Gillingham @2pm - with matches involving clubs in the top two tiers still shut to the public, this third-tier match tops the bill. Now playing at Rayners Lane's impressive new facilities, Hounslow charge £3 to get in

Women's National League Division 1 South East
Enfield Town v Leyton Orient @2pm - in the fourth tier this London derby at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium looks well worth a watch

London & South East Women's Regional League
QPR v Dulwich Hamlet @2pm - these two were fighting for the title in the fifth tier when the season got abandoned so it should be good. However, at the time of writing, all QPR home games have so far been behind closed doors so check nearer the time to see if this has changed



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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