Monday, 18 October 2021

TLFG: 18-24 October 2021

Wow, wow, wow!

What a 24 hours it's been. 

Saturday was about three games of football for me.

It began out at the Middlesex FA HQ in Northolt with my daughter's latest match for Actonians U9s.

After the joy of their first-ever win two weeks ago, normal service resumed with another huge 13-4 thrashing at the hands of one of Ruislip Rangers' many squads.

Weirdly it was 3-3 at half-time with our star player, who trains with Chelsea during the week rather than us, scoring her third hat-trick in two games.

Tickets for Leyton Orient v Hartlepool on 30 October are only £5

Squad rotation, the opposition figuring out how to nullify our main player, a lack of experience and heads dropping in the cold and wet, all contributed to the capitulation.

Thankfully it was all smiles at the end and we look forward to Wealdstone in two weeks time but it looks like being another tough one.

Game two was QPR's big derby match against Fulham at Craven Cottage. 

I didn't go and couldn't watch it and thankfully so as it sounded as if we barely got into the game.

Aside from Lyndon Dykes' equaliser, we were pretty poor throughout and deservedly lost 4-1.

Lastly was the hugely important game for my other favourite side Harrow Borough who had made it to the Fourth Round Qualifying of the FA Cup.

They'd drawn Chelmsford City from the level above but had them at home, so a win seemed achievable.

It seems quite a few of you made it down to Earlsmead for what turned out to be a highly entertaining tie, unlike me who was stuck at work.

The Boro took the lead but conceded two quick goals to be 2-1 down at the break.

Amazingly, Steve Baker's side got really stuck in after the interval with James Ewington completing his hat-trick (13 goals already this season) and Imran Uche making sure of progress with a fourth in the closing stages.

So all eyes turned to Sunday's First Round draw, conducted by Kelly Smith and Wes Morgan at Wembley.

It was the former Leicester captain who drew out ball 70, handing Harrow a dream trip to Fratton Park to play former Premier League club and two-time FA Cup winners Portsmouth!

Although they've previously made the Second Round, it's probably the biggest match in Boro's 88-year history given the size and illustrious history of the opponent.

I can't see getting a ticket will be too much of a problem, so if you're around on the weekend of 6/7 November, you're very welcome to join us all for a jolly down to the Hampshire coast.

My football week will see me attend my first women's match of the season as England play Northern Ireland in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley.

Lastly from me, many thanks this week to Craig H, Ben K and Markus U for donating to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund. I really appreciate it.

Have a great week everyone.

THE WEEK AHEAD

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

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 18 October

Premier League
Arsenal v Crystal Palace @8pm - the week begins with a London derby between sides just a place apart in lower midtable. It also marks the return of Gunners legend Patrick Vieira who brings his new side to the Emirates for the first time. Despite their uninspiring start to the season, Arsenal will still start as favourites especially when you consider the Eagles have only won three of their last 10 meetings against the north London club. You'll need to be a member to buy a ticket

Development matches
Earlier in the day, there are a few U23 games. Tottenham Hotspur play host to West Ham United in the match of the day but it's being played just to the north of London at Stevenage's ground at 7pm

Essex Senior Cup Preliminary Round
Barkingside v Holland @745pm - the only non-league match of the night takes place in Seven Kings where two ECL sides go for glory at Cricklefields

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Tuesday 19 October

Championship
QPR v Blackburn Rovers @745pm - after suffering the humiliation of a 4-1 defeat at local rivals Fulham on Saturday, the R's will be looking to bounceback straight away with this game against the club just below them in the table. Over the course of history, Rovers are well in front in the head-to-head with 25 wins to QPR's 16. Last season this game ended 1-0 to QPR - I get the feeling there could be a few more goals this time. Tickets

League One
Charlton Athletic v Accrington Stanley @745pm - after getting a desperately needed win at Fleetwood Town, the Addicks returned to losing ways against Lincoln on Saturday to stay in the bottom three. Accrington, a club punching well above their weight, are up in 11th but in very unpredictable form. The Lancashire club picked up their first-ever win at The Valley last season and could well take three points here too. Tickets

League Two
Leyton Orient v Forest Green Rovers @745pm - on the face of it, Tuesday's programme in the fourth tier contains some of the matches of the week. Having lost only two of their 12 league games, the O's are ticking over nicely in seventh although probably drawing more than they'd like. FGR arrive as leaders and are now four points clear after Saturday's win at Scunthorpe. The sides have only ever played three league games against each other and FGR have won all of them. Tickets
Sutton United v Swindon Town @745pm - after a difficult start to life in League Two, following their promotion from the National League, the U's have hit form and climbed the table rapidly. Saturday's win at Crawley was their fourth in a row and lifted them to fifth. On Tuesday, Swindon pay a visit to Gander Green Lane and it could be a cracker. The former Premier League club are just below them in the table with only goals scored keeping them below their hosts. Tickets

FA Cup Fourth Round Qualifying Replay
Hayes & Yeading United v Dorking Wanderers @745pm - Paul Hughes' side found themselves 2-1 up with 16 minutes to go and looked set to cause an upset against National League South opposition but it was not to be and it finished 2-2. However, H&YU have been fantastic in the league this season and should more than fancy their chances back on home turf. Their recent FA Cup record is excellent, making the First Round in each of the last two seasons. If they do win, they will host Sutton United next. Admission is a very reasonable £10, payable on the gate

London Senior Cup First Round
Fisher v Brentford B @745pm - there's a lot of county cup football around the London area on Tuesday with this LSC tie just about topping the bill. I've said many times on TLFG that I'd love to see all our local pro clubs enter reserve/development sides into the county cups, as they always used to do, so I really applaud the Bees for continuing to do so. The west London club have made it to two of the last three finals, so should be among the contenders again


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Wednesday 20 October

Uefa Champions League
Chelsea v Malmo @8pm - Saturday's win in the derby at Brentford kept the Blues top of the Premier League so they should expect to triumph fairly comfortably again against the weakest side in Group H. Swedish club Malmo are currently bottom after losing their first two games and they've still yet to score. Tickets are now only available in the hospitality areas

Uefa Youth League
Chelsea v Malmo @12pm - if you're around all day, you could see the clubs' U19 sides do battle at Kingsmeadow as well. Tickets are only £5 must be bought by 4pm on Tuesday - none will be available on the day

Championship
Fulham v Cardiff City @745pm - if you can't get in at Stamford Bridge, then take a short stroll along Fulham Road to Craven Cottage where you shouldn't struggle to find a ticket. Having emphatically beaten local rivals QPR 4-1 on Saturday, the hosts climbed back to third and should be full of confidence ahead of this match against the team with the worst form in the division. Tickets

Isthmian South Central
Bedfont Sports v Sutton Common Rovers @745pm - the hosts gave a great account of themselves against Kidderminster in the FA Cup on Saturday but came up just short, losing 1-0. Their impressive cup run means they've got four games in hand on current leaders Uxbridge, which if won would put them joint top. SCR have found things tough going as a result of playing seven of their eight league games away from home but they've still managed to accrue seven points

Surrey Senior Cup Preliminary Round
Colliers Wood United v Balham @730pm - a number of you have been in touch to make sure I don't miss this south-west London derby. Geographically Colliers Wood and Balham lie either side of Tooting on the Northern Line but sadly neither club play in their home areas which makes growing a fanbase a little more challenging. Nevertheless, I'm sure they'll put on a decent spectacle for your entertainment
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Thursday 21 October

Uefa Europa League
West Ham United v Genk @8pm - the Hammers enjoyed a 1-0 win at Everton on Sunday to move back into the top seven. On Thursday they'll look to extend their 100% record in Group H against Belgian side Genk. Sixth in their own league, they disappointingly lost 2-0 at Charleroi on Sunday and really should be beaten again here. Tickets 

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Friday 22 October

Premier League
Arsenal v Aston Villa @8pm - the Gunners face their second night match of the week as Villa pay a visit. Like the Palace game, this should be competitive as the sides are right next to each other in the table at the time of writing. Dean Smith's side did the double over Arsenal last season, the first time the Birmingham club had achieved that since the opening season of the Premier League in 1992/93. Tickets are only on sale to members

Development matches
There are three U23 matches over the course of the day with the curiously scheduled match between Arsenal and Everton at Meadow Park topping the bill at 7pm. At 2pm there's a tasty derby at The Valley where Charlton take on local rivals Millwall and Fulham host Nottingham Forest at their training ground in the evening

FA Vase First Round
Southall v Erith & Belvedere @745pm - the next round of the Vase gets underway on Friday night with this tasty-looking encounter. If you don't know, this is a prestigious national knockout competition for sides in the ninth and 10th tiers with its final at Wembley. The 'All have a proud Vase history, famously finishing as runners-up in 1986. In 2017 they made the quarter-finals and have made the Third Round a couple of times since then. The Deres also made it to the last eight in 2015, I went, but are probably most famous for getting to two FA Amateur Cup Finals back in the 1930s. As for today, both sides are in great league form with Southall top of the CCL Premier North and E&B sixth in the parallel SCEFL Premier, although they have the games in hand to go top. This is one of the ties of the round

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Saturday 23 October

Fifa Women's World Cup qualifier
England v Northern Ireland @515pm - the Lionesses return to Wembley for their first match at the national stadium in nearly two years - the last one being the friendly against Germany played in front of almost 80,000 spectators. Although this is a competitive fixture against a local rival, I doubt we'll see that many here as there's a big gulf in class between the two sides - the last match between them in February ended in a 6-0 win for England. However, Northern Ireland have won both of their opening group games and can't be totally discounted. Having said that, the hosts have looked imperious under new Dutch boss Sarina Wiegman, scoring 18 goals in just two games. If you've never been to a women's game, I heartily recommend you give this a try, especially if you've got kids. Tickets are ridiculously cheap for a match at Wembley (£20 for adults, £2.50 kids) and the atmosphere will be a lot more relaxed due to the almost total lack of alcohol consumption by those in attendance. You might think that sounds like the most boring football match you've ever been to but if not, I might see you there 

Premier League
Chelsea v Norwich City @1230pm - the late kick-off at Wembley means you could very easily do a 'double' with this, with easy train connections from West Brompton to Wembley Central. Whatever your plans, it's a case of top versus bottom at Stamford Bridge and we could see a pretty similar game to the one at the national stadium. With the Canaries yet to win a game, you really fear for them. Once again, only hospitality packages are available at this stage
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United @3pm - with several Premier League games picked off by TV companies over the course of a weekend, the ones left at 3pm on a Saturday might as well have 'Rubbish' next to them in brackets on the fixture list. Normally, this one would appear to be pretty unappealing to neutrals but the recent Saudi investment into Newcastle has added a new dimension to this one. Having lost to Spurs in their first game under new owners, boss Steve Bruce is under immense pressure and another defeat here could well be the end for him. Palace, on the other hand, look relatively comfortable at the moment and should be able to exploit any lack of morale in their opponents. Tickets are only available to members

Championship
Millwall v Stoke City @3pm - for the second Saturday running, your best chance of getting a ticket for a high-level men's match will be at The Den. The Lions remained in midtable after losing 2-0 to Luton but things are incredibly tight with only six points separating sixth from 16th. The Potters also lost to drop to fifth but still remain a tough prospect. Tickets

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Wigan Athletic @3pm - the Dons' winless run continued on Saturday but they avoided defeat, getting a very decent point against Sheffield Wednesday. The big matches are coming thick and fast at the moment, with former Premier League club Wigan next to visit. The Latics are third at the time of writing but could be top by the time this happens if midweek results go their way. Tickets 

National League
Barnet v Wrexham @3pm - after enjoying an improvement in form recently, the Bees bowed out of the FA Cup at the first attempt after a narrow loss to local rivals Boreham Wood. On Saturday they welcome the biggest club in the league, in terms of attendance, for another important game. Although the Welsh club are averaging crowds of nearly 8,000, they're not doing anything particularly special on the pitch with only three wins from nine. In fact, Barnet will go level on points with them if they win. Tickets
Dagenham & Redbridge v Southend United @3pm - there should also be a bumper crowd at Victoria Road for this huge Essex derby. How this wasn't selected as the day's TV game I'm not quite sure. The Daggers scored two late goals to knock Wealdstone out of the FA Cup on Saturday and arrest their worrying run of defeats. The Shrimpers have found life in non-league really hard to adjust to following relegation from League Two and recently sacked manager Phil Brown. Things improved a bit with a comfortable FA Cup win over Chertsey but this should be a much tougher game. Tickets

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Chippenham Town @3pm - there's only one match in the sixth tier on Saturday and it will see the Beavers try to extend their unbeaten run whilst cracking into the play-off places. The visitors are level on points with the hosts so Gary McCann's side shouldn't have it all their own way. Tickets at this level and below are always available on the gate

Southern League Premier South
Harrow Borough v Wimborne Town @3pm - there aren't any really outstanding matches in the seventh tier this week so I'm going to use my editorial privilege to recommend a trip to the Rogers Family Stadium to watch potential FA Cup giant-killers Harrow in action. Steve Baker's side claimed their second National League South scalp of the campaign by beating Chelmsford 4-2 on Saturday and will now travel to Portsmouth in the next round. Aside from the cup run, they've started to do pretty well in the league and will be in and around the play-off places if they win their games in hand. Wimborne have made a poor start so the Reds should start as firm favourites. If for nothing else, you should make a trip here to try the legendary bread pudding

Isthmian South Central
Uxbridge v Tooting & Mitcham United @3pm - the Reds are celebrating their 150th anniversary this season and could mark it with promotion. Currently top with only one league defeat, they've started impressively. Tooting are down in a slightly disappointing 12th but with a couple of games in hand, they could well be back among the play-off contenders soon 

FA Vase First Round
Abbey Rangers v Horley Town @3pm - the hosts are only in their 11th season but still managed a run to the fifth round in 2019 when near neighbours Chertsey Town eventually won the competition. Horley made it to the fourth round the year before so both clubs have some fond Vase memories. Both sides are currently among the frontrunners in the parallel Premier North and South divisions of the CCL so should put on a good show
Egham Town v Colliers Wood United @3pm - there's a similar scenario on TLFG's far western boundary where the Sarnies re-opened their main stand on Saturday after seeing it burned down by teenage vandals earlier this year. I make them marginal favourites to prevail here
Fisher v Badshot Lea @3pm - it's a week of big cup matches for the Fish with Brentford B on Tuesday and CCL Premier South leaders Badshot in the Vase on Saturday. This hasn't been a happy competition for the hosts who've only made it past this point once
Holmesdale v Athletic Newham @3pm - there's another bit of interesting inter-league action near Bromley where two sides from the top eight of the Essex Senior and SCEFL do battle
Hilltop v Tunbridge Wells @3pm - promoted from the MCFL and new to this level, Hilltop continue to impress near the top of the CCL Division 1 and have landed a great draw against 2013 finalists Tunbridge Wells. The Kent club play a level above them but are in midtable and could be vulnerable to a cupset
London Lions v Thetford Town @3pm - Hilltop would be top of their division if it wasn't for London Lions who are just keeping their noses in front in the race for the title. In a very similar tie to the one above, Thetford are a midtable side from the level above and should provide an interesting test

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Sunday 24 October

Premier League
Brentford v Leicester City @2pm - with the Foxes playing in the Europa League, this match has been moved to Sunday. By all accounts, the Bees were very unlucky to lose to Chelsea on Saturday and they'll want to avoid losing a second consecutive match for the first time this season if they possibly can. Leicester recorded a fine 4-2 win over Manchester United but head to west London on the back of a midweek trip to Moscow to play Spartak. Will the travelling make a difference? Tickets are only available to members
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur @2pm - at the same time on the other side of London, two more sides with midweek European commitments meet at the London Stadium. Sadly for Spurs, they are the ones with a Thursday night trip but it's only to the Netherlands so it shouldn't be too arduous. A lot seems to have been said about how great West Ham are and how poor Tottenham seem to be but both won on Sunday and it's Spurs who are higher up the table. This derby is usually pretty lively on and off the pitch and let's not forget that it was these two clubs who fought very publicly for use of this stadium after the Olympics. On reflection, I think Spurs fans will be the happier. Surprisingly, tickets are on sale to non-members

Women's FA Cup Third Round Qualifying
AFC Wimbledon v Walton Casuals @3pm - all the clubs from the fourth tier of the women's pyramid enter the draw at this stage, meaning quite a few of our local clubs are now involved. The Dons have been doing well in recent weeks and should have too much for the visitors who play several levels below them. This is being played at Plough Lane - tickets are free but you must register in advance
QPR v Caversham United @2pm - one of Wimbledon's recent victims, the R's could do with a win after a run of poor results. Like the match above, Caversham should be seen off with relative ease. This match will take place at Hanwell Town
Fulham v Dartford @2pm - both are currently in the top four in the fifth tier LSE Women's Regional League so it should be pretty close. I would have the Darts as marginal favourites in this game at the Cottagers' training ground in Motspur Park
New London Lionesses v Ashford Town (Middlesex) @2pm - you might not have heard of either of these teams but they're the current top two in the LSE Women's Regional League. It's being played at Northwood's ground but I can't tell you much more because the hosts inexplicably blocked TLFG's account on Twitter ahead of the new season when we questioned why they'd postponed their first match against Dulwich and then gone looking for a friendly. There were several other casualties in the great blocking scandal of 2021 so it seems they're better at football than PR


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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