Monday, 2 August 2021

TLFG: 2-8 August 2021

Greetings from Lancashire dear readers.

I've been up in Lytham St Annes on holiday this week so have been away from all the goings on in the capital.

I'm told there have been some more terrible downpours which have caused all kinds of flooding - I hope you weren't too adversely affected.

The weather here has also been disappointing but it's been more grey and overcast than anything else.

One of my objectives during this trip was to see at least one match locally.

Lower Breck defend during their 1-0 win at Squires Gate

There have been a great selection over the last few days with the Fylde and wider Lancashire area a famous hotbed of football.

On Tuesday Blackpool narrowly lost 1-0 to Burnley, on Friday Fleetwood beat Leeds 2-1 and on Saturday Preston were supposed to play Manchester United until Covid intervened.

However, I didn't see any of these and went to watch my first North West Counties League match instead.

About two miles from St Anne's, very close to Blackpool airport, you'll find three clubs almost side-by-side all in their own grounds.

From west to east they are AFC Blackpool, Blackpool Wren Rovers and Squires Gate. 

I went to see the latter play host to newly promoted Lower Breck who hail from the Anfield neighbourhood of Liverpool - something that was very evident in the players' accents.

For this ninth-tier game I paid a very reasonable £6 to get in and it was free for U12s like my daughter. 

The match was fiercely contested but provided few clear-cut chances.

It was no surprise that a second-half penalty for the visitors would prove to be decisive in their 1-0 win.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit but one thing to note - parking was a problem. 

With BWR also hosting a game, the car park was overflowing with people double and triple parked.

By the time we got there it was carnage and my friend, with a disability, who drove us had to park away from the ground and walk back so bear that in mind.

A must-buy for all FA Cup fans

I'm heading back to London on Monday afternoon and hope to see a game or two over the next few days. 

Hayes & Yeading United v QPR U23, New Salamis v Kenisngton & Ealing Borough and another game on Saturday are all on my wishlist but I think I'll be lucky to get more than one of them.

There is plenty to choose from this week so fill your boots!

PS - one final thing from me, the FA Cup gets underway this week and there's a new book by Phil Annets packed with stats and facts about the competition and the clubs who enter it. I shall definitely be using some of his nuggets in some of my FA Cup previews - thanks Phil.

PPS - for those of you who rely on public transport to get to games, please be aware that there is set to be strike action by some Tube drivers which could affect you if you're going to a game on Tuesday or Thursday night. Thanks to TLFG reader Chris H for a reminder about this. Update - this strike has now been cancelled.


THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include the FA Community Shield, return of the EFL, the opening round of this season's FA Cup and numerous friendlies which feature Premier League and European teams.

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 - turquoise 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 2 August

A bit further afield
K Sports v Tunbridge Wells @745pm - unusually for a Monday, there's very little action anywhere at all. I heard chat about a St Panteleimon friendly possibly taking place at Enfield Town's ground but couldn't find confirmation of it anywhere. The only match in the south east that I'm aware of is this SCEFL Premier Division match not far from Maidstone. If you know of anything else, let me know

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Tuesday 3 August

Friendlies
Boreham Wood v Chelsea XI @730pm - the Wood continue their pre-season with another high profile friendly. The Blues are playing Spurs on Wednesday so this is likely to be an U23 squad. Tickets are £12
Hayes & Yeading United v QPR XI @745pm - having thrashed Enfield Town 7-1 on Saturday, the hosts should feel confident ahead of this meeting with QPR's U23 side. Tickets are £7
West Ham United U23 v Huddersfield Town B @7pm - the youngsters from these two sides meet at the Hammers' Rush Green facility in Romford. Check with West Ham on the day for the latest details
Hanwell Town v Brentham @7pm - there's a rare chance to see a football match at Ealing Trailfinders rugby club on Tuesday as these two local teams meet for a friendly
Beckenham Town v Crawley Town @7pm - ninth tier Beckenham have pulled off a bit of a coup by landing a friendly against League Two Crawley. It's listed as the Sussex club's final first-team friendly. Tickets are usually £8

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Wednesday 4 August

Friendlies
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur @745pm - these two clubs and Arsenal are currently taking part in a high profile triangular pre-season tournament called The Mind Series which is raising funds for the 'Mind' mental health charity. The Blues beat Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates in the opening game on Sunday so should start as strong favourites here. Tickets are only on sale to season-ticket holders and members but they can buy some for guests 
Barking v Dagenham & Redbridge @745pm - in east London we have a derby that's been branded The Borough Cup. The Daggers won the inaugural game last year so the hosts will look to cause an upset and get revenge. Tickets are £8 and you can pay on the gate
AFC Wimbledon v Portsmouth @8pm - if you'd prefer some women's football then these two will be warming up for the forthcoming Women's National League season with a game at Carshalton Athletic's ground

A bit further afield
Southampton v Levante @7pm - less than 90 minutes on the train from Waterloo will bring you to the Hampshire port city of Southampton where the local Premier League side entertain some Spanish opposition. Tickets are on general sale for £15
Southend United v Brentford B @7pm - if you don't want to go that far, you could spend a day on the Essex coast before heading to this friendly in the evening. Details are a bit sketchy at the moment so check with Southend on the day for the latest info

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Thursday 5 August

Friendly
North Greenford United v Pitshanger Dynamo @730pm - thanks to TLFG reader Chris H for alerting me to this friendly between two sides who groundshare. With little else on, get yourself down to Berkeley Fields!

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Friday 6 August

Friendly
Boreham Wood v Arsenal XI @730pm - after a fallow Thursday, the action returns on Friday with a very decent selection of games. A young Gunners XI saw off Hendon with relative ease last week but should face a tougher evening against The Wood who play two levels higher. Tickets are £12

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
The moment many of you have been waiting for has arrived, the start of the 2021/22 FA Cup. A total of 348 clubs will be taking part in this opening round with the winners of each tie banking £1,125 and the losers £375. 

New Salamis v Kensington & Ealing Borough @745pm - the hosts, who play at Haringey Borough, only entered the FA Cup for the first time last season and made it through two rounds before bowing out. Kensington & Ealing were only formed in 2012 and are making their debut in the competition. They play a level below New Salamis but play some good football and the two should provide an entertaining game. Tickets are £8 and will be available on the gate
West Essex v St Panteleimon @745pm - this will be the first competitive match for West Essex as they begin their new groundshare at Wadham Lodge in Walthamstow. The east London club were eighth in the Essex Senior League when it got curtailed last season whereas St Panteleimon finished fourth in the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 to get promoted. In other words, the clubs now play in parallel ninth tier divisions so this should be another close one. Tickets should be around £8 too


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Saturday 7 August

FA Community Shield
Manchester City v Leicester City @515pm - the annual season curtain-raiser at Wembley between the winners of the Premier League and FA Cup is here once again. There appear to be quite a few tickets available in the Manchester City end mostly in the very reasonable £20-25 price bracket

Friendlies
Brentford v Valencia @530pm - the Bees move a week closer to life in the Premier League with this final eye-catching pre-season game against one of the biggest clubs in Spain. Tickets are on general sale at various prices between £15-25
Crystal Palace v Watford @3pm - there's an all Premier League encounter at Selhurst Park. The last five meetings between these two at this stadium have finished either 1-0 or 2-1 so expect a close game. Tickets are £15 if bought in advance or £20 on the day
West Ham United v Atalanta @3pm - six years ago I went to watch QPR play an unheralded Atalanta side in a pre-season game. The Italian club had filled in at short notice for another Serie A club but still brought thousands of fans and created a fantastic atmosphere as the sides drew 1-1. Fast forward to now and the Bergamo club have become one of the top sides in the country finishing third last season and making the Champions League quarter finals the year before. The Hammers also had one of their best seasons for many years in 2020/21 and will compete in Europe themselves. Tickets are available from £15

A bit further afield
Southampton v Athletic Bilbao @3pm - the Saints welcome some more Spanish opposition on Saturday. The Basque club finished 10th in La Liga last season. Tickets are £15
Brighton & Hove Albion v Getafe @7pm - the Seagulls also entertain a club from Spain and do it at a very accommodating time of 7pm meaning you can watch a great selection of games in London at 3pm before heading south for this one. Tickets are £15 in advance and £20 on the day

Championship
QPR v Millwall @3pm - if all that friendly nonsense isn't for you then get yourself along to the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium where the EFL season gets underway with this humdinger of a London derby. The R's have been playing some great stuff in pre-season beating Manchester United and drawing 3-3 Leicester along the way but the Lions will present a totally different challenge and they and their infamous fans are usually really fired up for this one. There is often crowd trouble at this fixture and I'm surprised it wasn't moved forward to a lunchtime kick-off. Tickets are on general sale

League One
Charlton Athletic v Sheffield Wednesday @530pm - the Addicks suffered the heartbreak of missing a play-off spot by no more than goal difference last season, meaning they're starting off in the third tier again. Wednesday, another former top-flight club, also find themselves at this level after finishing bottom of the Championship last season. The Yorkshire club have a decent record at The Valley and have only lost on one of their last five visits. Tickets are on general sale

Pitching In Super Cup
Hornchurch v Warrington Rylands @1245pm - if you've got a ticket for the FA Community Shield at Wembley later in the day, you could start by watching this game between the winners of the FA Trophy and FA Vase at lunchtime. I think I'm right in saying that this match is not the brainchild of the FA who've missed a trick here. Rather than the national stadium, this match is being played at Hornchurch and tickets are £10

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Tooting & Mitcham United v Erith & Belvedere @3pm - the opening round of the FA Cup is usually reserved for clubs in the ninth tier and below. This year a few eighth-tier sides have been put into the draw with The Terrors among them. The south London club have a proud record of getting to the Fourth Round proper in 1976 where they lost to Bradford City after beating Swindon Town in the previous round. The Deres have never made it out of the qualifying competition and play a level below their opponents so the smart money is definitely on the hosts
Beckenham Town v Colliers Wood United @3pm - I'm expecting big things the Becks this season. They started their league campaign by inflicting the newly promoted Jersey Bulls first ever league defeat in front of a healthy crowd of 325 which makes them one of the best supported sides in London at this level. Colliers Wood have lost in this round for the last three seasons so their luck must change soon but it'll be a bit of an upset if they manage it here 
Broadfields United v Cribbs @3pm - this match stands out for me as it provides you with a very rare chance to watch Bristol club Cribbs play in London. I'm genuinely quite surprised the clubs find themselves in the same part of the draw with West Country teams usually kept apart from other regions to minimise travel but they must have been right on the boundary line
Redbridge v Ilford @3pm - another one to leap off the page at me is this east London derby at Oakside. Very easy to get to with the ground right next Barkingside station
Walthamstow v Crawley Green @3pm - the Stow pulled in some sizeable crowds in the early rounds last season as they increased their supporter base during the lockdown of the big clubs last autumn. Many readers have reported enjoyable visits to Wadham Lodge so give it a go if you're anywhere near E17

ECL Division 1 South
Buckhurst Hill v Halstead Town @3pm - after 13 years in the Essex Olympian League, the Hill have moved up to the 10th tier becoming one of TLFG's newest clubs in the process. They've had to upgrade their Roding Lane ground to play at this level and they play their first competitive match there on Saturday
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Sunday 8 August

Friendly
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal @2pm - the Mind Series concludes with this monster of a match at the THS on Sunday. Prior to this week, Spurs have been unbeaten in games against Leyton Orient, Colchester and MK Dons so back-to-back games against Chelsea and Arsenal could be a shock to the system. The clubs' women's teams will also be playing each other at 445pm. Tickets are on sale to season-ticket holders and members but they can bring guests

Championship
Fulham v Middlesbrough @130pm - if the weather's good then you might find the prospect of watching a competitive game on the banks of the Thames in one of London's most desirable neighbourhoods more appealing than the one above. The Cottagers are currently the bookies' favourites to win the title this season, which I find quite surprising, and Neil Warnock's Boro are also fancied to do well so this match has real potential. Tickets are on general sale

Women's friendly
Dulwich Hamlet v Enfield Town @2pm - aside from the North London Derby above, this match at Champion Hill is for me the pick of the women's action. Last weekend the Hamlet got 231 through the gate to see them play London Seaward and they're hoping for more on Sunday. Adult tickets are £4

A bit further afield
If you don't mind heading out of town there are three more FA Cup ties being played in Arlesey and Hertford to the north and Windsor to the west - full details are on the weekend match map


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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