Sunday, 12 September 2021

TLFG: 13-19 September 2021

Greetings and all. 

I've got to keep this preamble brief as I'm at work and my break is rapidly coming to an end.

Apart from this waffle, everything else should be where it normally is but I haven't had a chance to proofread it yet so there might be some errors - apologies.

A huge thanks to Kevin and Andy who both donated to the coffee drinking fund this week. Much appreciated!!!

Anyway, got to dash - enjoy!

THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in the Premier League, the EFL, FA Cup, most of our local non-league competitions and the FA Women's National League.

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
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 13 September

FA Cup First Qualifying Round Replay
Aveley v Barking @745pm - the most important match of the day would appear to be this FA Cup tie. Both sides are playing catch up after Barking's earlier tie against Ilford had to be re-played because of an ineligible player. After getting through, the Blues then drew with Aveley further delaying things. Both sides play in the Isthmian North but Barking are top and should start as favourites. The winners will host AFC Dunstable in the next round on Saturday

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Tuesday 14 September

Champions League
Chelsea v Zenit St Petersburg @8pm - the Blues won last season's Champions League and begin the defence of their title with this group stage match against Russian opposition. Zenit are the reigning champions domestically and arrive unbeaten and top of the Russian league again, having beaten Akhmat Grozny 3-1 on Saturday. Tickets are on general sale

League Two
Sutton United v Hartlepool United @745pm - the U's finally recorded their first victory in the EFL by beating Stevenage 2-1 on Saturday. The win moved them off the bottom and they will pull clear of the relegation zone if they win here. Hartlepool got promoted with Sutton but have made a much better start and will go second if they prevail. Tickets are on general sale

National League
Boreham Wood v FC Halifax Town @745pm - the Wood's fine start to the season continued with a 3-2 win at Bromley on Saturday. Still averaging crowds of only 692, the Hertfordshire outfit are the smallest club in the fifth tier by some distance and yet this result put them joint top. Halifax enjoyed a comfortable win over Southend last time out and should provide stiff opposition. Tickets are on general sale
Dagenham & Redbridge v Weymouth @745pm - just ahead of The Wood and top on goal difference are another TLFG club. The Daggers continued their unbeaten run with victory over King's Lynn on Saturday and should have too much for an inconsistent Weymouth side. Tickets are on general sale

Isthmian League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Haringey Borough @745pm - currently fourth and fifth and only a point apart, this alternative 'North London Derby' tops the bill for me in the Isthmian Premier. Although it's very early in the season, the Towners have seen a significant surge in attendances this season so there will hopefully be a decent atmosphere at the QEII Stadium. Tickets are £11 and can be bought in online in advance 

Isthmian League South Central
Uxbridge v Hanwell Town @745pm - the Reds are currently London's top club in this division, sharing the lead with two other sides. On Tuesday they have a west London derby against the Geordies who have been a little disappointing in the league so far. However, their form hasn't deterred the fans who have turned out in good numbers and made them one of the best supported clubs at this level. Tickets are £10 on the gate

Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Raynes Park Vale v Walton & Hersham @745pm - two of the top six meet at Grand Drive on Tuesday for an intriguing early-season encounter. RPV enjoyed a comfortable FA Vase win over Steyning Town on Saturday which allowed W&H, who had a league game, to leapfrog them with a stunning 7-0 win over AFC Croydon Athletic. The Swans are definitely a club on the rise and managed to draw crowds in excess of 400 for their recent FA Cup ties - not bad for a ninth-tier club!

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Wednesday 15 September

Friendly
QPR B v Brentford B @7pm - with Covid thwarting their attempts to launch last month, QPR's new 'B' team will try again on Wednesday with a derby against Brentford who pioneered the 'B' team idea in this part of London. The match is being played at Wealdstone's ground in Ruislip and it's only £5 to get in, payable on the gate

Isthmian League North
Grays Athletic v Romford @745pm - after a decent start to the season, Grays will look to stay in touch with the leaders and perhaps even go joint top if results go their way earlier in the week. Fellow Essex club Romford are holding their own in midtable but the smart money is probably on a home win

Essex Senior League
Athletic Newham v Stansted @745pm - the recently-promoted hosts are among the dark horses of the division and have made a good start. Although only sixth, they have the games in hand to catch the leaders. The only club above them to have played the same number of games are fourth-placed Stansted so a fair bit rides on this

SCEFL Division 1
Westside v Croydon @730pm - for one reason or another, The Trams haven't had much of a mention in TLFG so far this season so it's about time they did as they're doing really well. After all the disruption of last season, they're back home at the Croydon Arena and with six wins from eight, they are already two points clear at the top. Westside, who groundshare at Colliers Wood United, were rather unfortunate to see themselves moved over from the Combined Counties League in the summer reshuffle but are holding their own in eighth

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Thursday 16 September

FA Youth Cup First Round Qualifying
There are loads of ties in this prestigious U18 competition throughout the week and they're all that's on offer on Thursday. Balham, Colliers Wood United, Hayes & Yeading United and Kingstonian are all at home but please check all the details with the clubs before you travel

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Friday 17 September

Professional Development League
There are a couple of very decent options in this U23 league on Friday with Charlton Athletic playing Sheffield Wednesday at The Valley (1pm) and Watford hosting Hull City at Vicarage Road (2pm). I did see something about the Hornets not admitting fans for their game but, as with all matches at this level, check all the details on the day in case things change. The early kick-offs should allow ample opportunity for you to do a 'double' on Friday and see two games

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v FC Clacton @745pm - like Croydon, the Motormen are another team to go a little undeservedly under the radar so far this season. With seven wins from 10, they are top of the ESL at the time of writing. However, they have played more games than most of the chasing pack so they could well be caught in the not-too-distant future. The visitors are currently eighth

A bit further afield
England v North Macedonia @7pm - a lot of the media's attention on Friday night will be on Southampton where the Lionesses play a Women's World Cup qualifier against North Macedonia at St Mary's. The match is also the first for new England boss Sarina Wiegman and she'll be hoping to make a good impression. Tickets are great value at £15 for adults and £2.50 for kids

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Saturday 18 September

Championship*
Fulham v Reading @3pm - after the feast of Premier League football in London last Saturday, there is none at all this week. Instead, we have a fine selection of second-tier action. The Cottagers suffered their first defeat of the season against lowly Blackpool on Saturday and they've got a great chance to bounce back against another struggling side. The Royals are defensively suspect and conceded two late goals to draw 3-3 with QPR in their last match. Any match against west London opposition is effectively a derby for Reading so they should bring a sizeable contingent of travelling fans. Tickets are on general sale
QPR v Bristol City @3pm - elsewhere in west London, the R's are also among the leading pack with their aforementioned draw at Reading keeping them unbeaten and in the top four. City have been very inconsistent but have taken four points from their last two and with London well under two hours away by train, they always bring a big away support. Tickets are on general sale
Millwall v Coventry City @3pm - in the other Champo game of the day, the Lions host another member of the top group. Cov came unstuck at QPR just before the international break but returned with a fine 2-0 win over Middlesbrough. Millwall have been a bit up and down but are starting to string a run together and came from behind to register an impressive 1-1 at leaders West Brom on Saturday. Tickets are on general sale
*All of our local Championship clubs have away midweek fixtures so some of the stats and information above might change


League One
AFC Wimbledon v Plymouth Argyle @3pm - the third tier looks like it could be pretty tight this season, if the early exchanges are anything to go by. The Dons currently find themselves in fourth despite winning only three of their seven games, whilst Argyle are only a point behind in eighth. Despite their distance from the capital, the Devon club often bring a sizeable away support and many will probably want to make their first visit to Wimbledon's new ground. Consequently, only a tiny amount of tickets are currently available but I know there have been some problems around ticketing and some more might become available later in the week

FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
There are a couple of National League games at Bromley and Wealdstone and many lower league games on Saturday, but the main non-league action is to be found in the next round of the FA Cup. I love the FA Cup and, as a result of that and limited time, I'm only going to write previews for a selection of the ties.

At this stage, National League South clubs enter the draw alongside all our other local surviving clubs from the seventh tier and below. With prize money of £3,375 for the winners of each tie and £1,125 for the losers, the stakes are getting pretty high.

There are numerous ties all over London - here are a few that really caught my eye.

Sutton Common Rovers v Jersey Bulls @1230pm - the first tie of the day takes place at Gander Green Lane, a ground famous for some memorable FA Cup matches. United aren't at home today but SCR, who groundshare with them, are. Newly promoted to the eighth tier, the hosts have struggled to adapt to life in the Isthmian League and are in danger of being 'cupset' by the visitors who play a level below but demolished VCD Athletic, another Isthmian club, 5-1 in the last round
Hayes & Yeading United v Tonbridge Angels @3pm - H&YU continued their 100% start to the season by beating Hartley Wintney 6-1 to remain top of the Southern League. They next face a Tonbridge side who have only managed one win from five at the level above. The cupset potential here is significant
Broadfields United v Hastings United @3pm - in north-west London, ninth-tier Broadfields are making their first-ever appearance in the Second Round Qualifying after an impressive win over Isthiman League club South Park. Hastings are one of the biggest clubs in the eighth tier and comfortably beat Beckenham and Harefield in previous rounds. It's a huge day for the hosts and the Tithe Farm ground they share with Rayners Lane should be busy
Chertsey Town v Chesham United @3pm - the Curfews fanbase has been growing steadily since their FA Vase win two years ago. Big cup matches like this were drawing Covid-capacity crowds last year and a good few hundred should pack into Alwyns Lane for this one against a midtable side from the level above
Walton Casuals v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - it's seventh tier versus sixth tier at the Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub. Both sides only play a few miles apart so there's more than a feel of a derby to this one
Hanwell Town v Eastbourne Borough @3pm - the nearest tie to me sees the Geordies host a club from two levels above them. The Sussex club have only won one of their opening six so they're not unbeatable but it will take a big effort to get past them
Enfield Town v Hadley @3pm - there's a very intriguing local derby at the QEII Stadium. I was a little unsure about whether to include this as Hadley, the underdogs, are away. The Towners are in good form towards the top of the Isthmian League so play two levels above their visitors and should start as strong favourites
Hornchurch v Walthamstow @3pm - the Stow are another one of the few remaining ninth-tier clubs left in the draw and they face a tough trip to play the Urchins who upset several much bigger teams on the way to sensationally winning the FA Trophy at Wembley last season
Abbey Rangers v Marlow @3pm - the home team are also in the 'ninth-tier minnows' category but have made it past this round before. Marlow only play a level above them but are currently one of the best teams in it - an upset here would be particularly notable
Carshalton Athletic v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - the Robins made it all the way to the First Round two years ago and they'd love to repeat that feat this season. Ebbsfleet are another midtable NLS side to have drawn a TLFG club so they could be vulnerable if not really on their game

UPDATE - thanks to TLFG reader Andy, it has come to our attention that Leyton Orient have an U18 match against Luton Town at their main stadium on Saturday at 11am. It's free entry and allows you to comfortably do a 'double' with many of the games taking place later in the afternoon.

Also of note, the newly formed Shepherds Bush FC play their first competitive match away to Brentham Reserves in the Middlesex County League so if you want to be part of football history, head west.

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Sunday 19 September

Premier League
West Ham United v Manchester United @2pm - after a fallow day for the top flight in London on Saturday, we end the week with a couple of crackers. First up at the London Stadium we should see Cristiano Ronaldo make his return to the capital with the Red Devils. At the time of writing, United are unbeaten and top of the league after their 4-1 win over Newcastle. The Hammers are also unbeaten and former Man Utd boss David Moyes will no doubt want to get one over on his old employers. Tickets are officially on general sale but I couldn't find any when I looked 
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea @430pm - Spurs saw their hold of top spot slip unceremoniously away at Selhurst Park as they lost 3-0 to Crystal Palace after having a man sent off. Their chances of making an instant recovery look tough as an unbeaten Blues side who easily saw off Aston Villa in their last match pay them a visit. Tickets are only available to members

Premier League 2
Chelsea v Arsenal @12pm - if you can't get a ticket for either of them, or even if you can, then this lunchtime kick-off between the clubs' U23 sides at Stamford Bridge looks like a great shout. Adult tickets are only £5 and I think they need to be bought online in advance but check with the club. UPDATE - this match has been moved to Kingsmeadow. All original tickets have been cancelled and new ones will need to be bought either online or at the box office on the day

FA Women's National League Southern Premier
London Bees v Crawley Wasps @2pm - it's a women's international break which means this third tier game is the top-level match on offer. London Bees play at The Hive which also houses Barnet so it's a good chance to tick the ground off your list

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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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