Monday, 5 October 2020

TLFG: 5-11 October 2020

Greetings everyone and apologies for the late publication of this week's guide.

I had a really hectic weekend with a match on Saturday and a day trip to see my Dad in Devon on Sunday. As a result, I didn't start writing this until about 0530 this morning.

For the third week running I got to see a game with the argument that lockdown could return at any time being enough to persuade my wife that I should be let out occasionally while the opportunity is still there.

My choice this week was the FA Cup tie between Harrow Borough and Cray Valley PM at the Rogers Family Stadium.

My daughter was up for the cup, it's a shame Harrow weren't

With Boro in poor form in the league, they looked incredibly vulnerable against an impressive CVPM side from the level below and so it transpired.

The first half was reasonably close and ended 1-1 with a penalty each finding the back of the net but after the interval things changed dramatically.

Within minutes of the restart the visitors won a penalty but saw it blasted over the bar but rather than deflate them, they pushed on and scored four more to win 5-1.

It seemed a little harsh on Harrow. Even political journalist Michael Crick, who was in attendance, felt they had been in contention until the hour mark when I asked him on Twitter afterwards.

Nonetheless, Cray Valley were worthy winners and it will be interesting to see who they get in the draw at 1pm on Monday.

As for Harrow, another long season of struggle could be on the cards. After a midweek mauling at Met Police on Tuesday they've now conceded 10 in two games and sit bottom of the league with 0 points.

This week they have back-to-back home games against Chesham and Weston-super-Mare and will need to take at least three points to stop the gloom really setting in.

The one high point of the afternoon was getting to meet TLFG reader Niels who originally hails from the Netherlands but currently lives here. He's been reading the blog for a while so it was great to finally chat in real life. I'd also like to thank him publicly for humouring my daughter who engaged him in conversation incessantly throughout! 

I probably won't see another game this week but hope to catch a match in the next round of the FA Cup in around nine days time.

On a sad note, this Saturday was supposed to have been this year's Non-League Day but I took the decision around a month ago to cancel it because of Covid-19.

There was a small amount of disagreement with the decision and I do understand the disappointment but with the infection rates rising rapidly and clubs in the National League still forbidden from welcoming spectators, it really didn't seem appropriate.

Besides, with so many supporters locked out of clubs at the moment, the time has never been better for smaller clubs to try and get new fans in so a 'day' doesn't even seem necessary when it looks like there will be months more of the same conditions.

On a completely different subject, I'm pleased to say that the QPR Runners group completed the 'Virtual 92' challenge on Sunday. Myself and a friend ran from AFC Wimbledon's new ground to the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on Friday with our latest contribution. In just over three weeks, 54 of us clocked up 4,015km as we virtually visited every club in the Premier League and EFL. With many of our members taking part in the virtual London Marathon on Sunday we actually went several hundred kilometres over our target distance and ended up well on our way down to Exeter on a second lap!

Lastly from me, thanks as always to those who have donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund. Cheers one and all.

THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in the FA Cup, Isthmian League, Southern League, FA Vase, FA Youth Cup 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
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 5 October

Isthmian League Premier Division
Haringey Borough v East Thurrock United @745pm - the hosts' decent start to the season continued on Saturday as they overcame Chertsey to make smooth progress in the FA Cup. Next up they face Essex club ETU who were playing in the National League South not that long ago. Sadly for them, things have gone pretty poorly so far with one point from four league games and an early exit from the FA Cup. Tickets are £10 on the door or you can simply download a FREE SEASON TICKET in what is probably the best deal anywhere in London

Isthmian League North Division
Aveley v Brentwood Town @745pm - the Millers will look to extend their 100% start to the season with another win against fellow Essex club Brentwood. The visitors have struggled in recent years and will no doubt be happy with a point here

FA Cup Second Round Qualifying
Burnham v Whyteleafe @745pm - after all the heavy rain of the weekend, it was a surprise to see only one local game getting rescheduled. Burnham's pitch still isn't up to it so the tie has been switched to Whyteleafe's 3G pitch instead. It's still classed as a Burnham home game and as such it's only £5 to get in - tickets available on the gate

FA Youth Cup Second Round Qualifying
I don't usually cover matches in this U18 competition until the big clubs enter the draw but I've received a fair bit of interest from readers and heard reports from friends that some games at this level draw reasonably big crowds. It's still all non-league clubs at this stage but they use their own grounds and charge £2-3 admission so it's good for groundhopping if nothing else. There are seven ties on Monday night. Sutton United are the biggest club to be hosting a game and Barnet are also in action at Uxbridge. Have a look at the map to see what's on and double check all the details with clubs before you travel as some details may have changed

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Tuesday 6 October

Southern League Premier Division South
Hendon v Hayes & Yeading United @745pm - this derby is by far the best seventh-tier option on Tuesday night. Although H&YU are a fairly new club, when Hayes and Yeading were separate entities they used to play Hendon regularly over many years so you can probably still class them as old rivals (I certainly do in my head). The Greens narrowly lost to Maidstone in the FA Cup on Saturday whilst H&YU thrashed Bognor. In the league, they're neck-and-neck in midtable so it should be close. Tickets are marginally cheaper if bought online in advance

Isthmian League South Central Division
Chertsey Town v Bracknell Town @745pm - although it's still very early days, both of these sides are expected to do well this year. Chertsey bowed out of the FA Cup on Saturday whilst Bracknell squeaked past Marlow on penalties. A big crowd is expected for this one and it's been made ALL TICKET so you have to buy tickets in advance

Isthmian League South East Division
VCD Athletic v Chichester City @745pm - the Vickers are the only team in the division to have a 100% record after three games and they should be confident of extending it against their opponents from Sussex who despite their great FA Cup run last season, are struggling 

Essex Senior League
Cockfosters v Takeley @745pm - talking of 100% records, Cockfosters will be hoping to extend theirs to six games on Tuesday night. Takeley are often among the contenders in this league but with only four points from five games so far, things don't seem to be going their way

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Wednesday 7 October

Isthmian League North Division
Romford v Witham Town @745pm - neither side have made a blistering start to the campaign and with Witham rooted to the bottom, you'd expect Romford to prevail 

FA Youth Cup Second Round Qualifying
Dartford v Tooting & Mitcham United @730pm - the pick of the three ties would appear to be this one. With fans of the first team still locked out of games, this is a good opportunity to visit Princes Park. Tickets are only £4 but must be bought in advance

Women's National League Division 1 South East
Actonians v Leyton Orient @745pm - for fans of the women's game, head west to Northolt where Actonians entertain the O's at the Middlesex FA's HQ in Rectory Park

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Thursday 8 October

FA Youth Cup Second Qualifying Round
Cockfosters v Concord Rangers @745pm - the other good thing about the FA Youth Cup is that it often throws up fixtures on otherwise quiet Thursday nights. To my knowledge, this is the only match in London so jump on the Piccadilly Line, head north and give these youngsters your support

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Friday 9 October

FA Vase Second Round Qualifying
Edgware Town v Tring Athletic @730pm - the next round of the Vase begins on Friday night with three ties. Of those on offer, this would be the one I'd go to as it's relatively local and features two sides from the SSML. Both sides have struggled in the early-season games but with Tring losing all their matches, Edgware should start as favourites. Edgware are also offering a FREE SEASON TICKET to any locals living in the NW9 or HA8 postcodes. Email for more info - matchdaysecretary@edgwaretownfc.co.uk

FA Youth Cup Second Round Qualifying
Bromley v Faversham Town @8pm - there are also three ties in this U18 competition too. Three National League grounds are hosting the games with this one arguably topping the bill. Once again, check all the details before you travel as they can change at short notice

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Saturday 10 October

Seventh tier

Isthmian League Premier Division
Carshalton Athletic v Corinthian Casuals @3pm - of the London clubs hosting games on Saturday, the Robins are the most highly ranked in this division. Despite a shock loss to Bedfont Sports in the FA Cup on Saturday, the Robins have made an unbeaten start in the league and are fifth at the time of writing. Corinthian Casuals may well have got relegated last season if Covid-19 hadn't intervened and have managed only one win so far. On paper this looks like a home win but CCs took Dulwich Hamlet to penalties in the cup and could cause Carshalton a few problems if they keep the same levels. Tickets are available online and you are advised to book in advance 

Southern League Premier Division South
Metropolitan Police v Gosport Borough @3pm - a lot could change in midweek but as of Monday morning, the Met are the highest ranked TLFG club in this division. Unbeaten in three, they sit proudly in fifth. Hampshire club Gosport have started even more strongly and are second


Eighth tier

Isthmian League South Central Division
Tooting & Mitcham United v Waltham Abbey @3pm - these two sat just outside the play-off places when the 2019/20 season came to a premature end and both are already up in the top six. With both sides now out of the FA Cup, there'll be no distractions on that front as they look to push on in the league

Isthmian League South East Division
Whyteleafe v Cray Valley PM @3pm - at the time of writing, these sides are both in the top seven, are both still in the FA Cup and have games in hand on those immediately above them. Having witnessed CVPM demolish Harrow on Saturday, these two are definitely clubs to watch this season

FA Vase Second Round Qualifying
There are quite a few league games in the ninth and 10th tiers on Saturday but I've decided to focus on this instead as it's arguably more exciting - with all ties having to be decided on the day, we should get some good games. The winners of each tie receive £725, the losers £225. There are numerous ties around London but the following stand out for me:

Abbey Rangers v Guildford City @3pm - the hosts are still relatively new to this level of football but  made it all the way to the last 16 a couple of years ago. They've also made a good start to their league campaign this year and will start as favourites against their Surrey rivals
Erith & Belvedere v Colliers Wood United @3pm - two TLFG clubs from parallel ninth-tier divisions meet at Park View Road. Both are in the lower reaches of their respective competitions so this should be close. E&B are another side to have a decent recent pedigree in the Vase as they made the quarter-finals in 2015
Hadley v Enfield Borough @3pm - there's a north London derby at Brickfield Lane. Hadley play a level above the visitors so should start as firm favourites
Hanworth Villa v FC Depotivo Galicia @3pm - with FCD groundsharing at nearby Bedfont Sports, we've got a west London derby to enjoy here. Like the tie above, Hanworth play a level above and should win
Oxhey Jets v North Greenford United @3pm - there's an all-SSML Premier Division affair at Boundary Park. The Jets have made a stronger start to the season than NGU and the smart money is definitely on them
Walthamstow v London Lions @3pm - these two produced a five-goal thriller when they met in the FA Cup just over a month ago so hopefully we'll get more of the same
Holmesdale v AFC Varndeanians @3pm - both sides are in the top four of their respective 10th tier divisions. The visitors hail from Sussex and play their games at the Withdean which famously used to host Brighton & Hove Albion in the years before they moved to Falmer
Newbury Forest v Burnham Ramblers @3pm - the hosts have made a very bright start to their Eastern Counties League campaign and will start as strong favourites against a side from the same division. Located right next to Barkingside Tube station, Oakside is one of the easiest grounds to get to
Park View v Cockfosters @3pm - there's another north London derby at the New River Stadium where Park View will look to cause one of the upsets of the round. Playing a level below Essex Senior League leaders Cockfosters, they'll have to do something pretty special to progress. Update - this match is not open to spectators so please don't attend
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Sunday 11 October

Isthmian League Premier Division
Cray Wanderers v Bishop's Stortford @3pm - there's a match to savour at Hayes Lane on Sunday as two of the Isthmian League's top clubs go head-to-head. Cray, London's oldest club, were second when last season ended early and are second now with only goal difference keeping them off the top. They've won all five of their league and cup games and scored 20 goals in the process so they are most definitely one of the sides to keep an eye on this season. Bishop's Stortford are also unbeaten and still in the cup so should provide a stern test

FA Vase Second Round Qualifying
Tooting Bec v Lydd Town @3pm - we're also lucky enough to have a bit of bonus Vase action on Sunday as two 10th-tier sides from the parallel CCL and SCEFL meet at Imperial Fields. The hosts will hope to challenge for promotion this season and I'd expect them to win here

Women's National League Southern Premier Division
Hounslow v Oxford United @2pm - with spectators still locked out of games in the Super League and Championship, this third-tier match at Rayners Lane's ground is the best women's match on offer on Sunday. Hounslow have made a terrible start to the season and are likely to suffer another defeat here against title challenging Oxford


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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