Sunday, 21 November 2021

TLFG: 22-28 November 2021

Greetings one and all and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

It's been a busy week with no live football for me and I've barely had time to write this but I think I've produced enough.

The main football 'thing' for me over the last few days has been assembling a group of 32 people to go to last season's Covid-delayed Women's FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday 5 December.

My original goal was to find nine people because you qualify for the massively discounted group rate of £10 adults and £2.50 kids.

After a couple of days struggling to get to that number, word got out and more and more people, some from quite unlikely quarters, contacted me wanting in.

Arsenal play Chelsea at 2pm - get your tickets here

Apparently the FA have shifted 10,000 tickets in the last week alone, taking the running total to over 30,000 with two weeks to go.

The last few finals have made it to the 40-45,000 mark so it would be great to hit that again. In fact, more tickets have been sold for this than England's recent World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland so the atmosphere should be good.

Even if you can't get a group together, it's still only £20 adults which is pretty good for a Wembley final.

In other news, it was great to see QPR return to winning ways against Luton.

Given their proximity to London, games between the two clubs have always effectively been derbies and more often than not there's been a bit of a nasty edge to them.

On Friday, this unpleasant side reared its ugly head in a big way with a number of altercations in the streets around the stadium after the game.

It saw QPR fans kettled on Loftus Road itself to allow away fans to leave the area.

Sadly this didn't go as smoothly as the authorities would've liked with one person, from Luton, ending up in a coma after receiving serious head injuries.

This was even more shocking for my family as the assault took place right outside my father-in-law's restaurant which was then shut for almost 24 hours after being placed behind a police cordon.

I've said in recent weeks how I've stayed away from first-team games this season, in part because of the negative air that seems to surround pro club games - Friday kind of vindicated that feeling.

Anyway, don't be put off - QPR v Luton games are often feisty and I doubt they'll be any of that when the R's play Huddersfield on Wednesday.

With a few days off coming up at the end of the week, I'm banking on seeing something in the flesh.

Unusually, both QPR and Harrow Borough are without a game so after watching Actonians U9s in action in the morning, I hope to head off somewhere else in the afternoon - the leading contender at the moment is the FA Trophy tie between Hanwell Town and Enfield Town but we'll see.

Lastly from me, many thanks this week to Martin B from Dorset and John R from California for donating to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund. I really really appreciate it.

Have a great week everyone.

THE WEEK AHEAD

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

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 22 November


Isthmian League Premier
Carshalton Athletic v Horsham @745pm - the Robins saw their match at Hornchurch abandoned on Saturday after a major power failure in the area, it was 1-1 at the time. A win would've built on their superb 5-0 demolition of Folkestone in their previous league game and they'll hope to get something here too as they beat Horsham in the FA Trophy at the end of October. However, the Sussex club's lowly position is a little false as they have a number of games in hand after their great run in the FA Cup. Since losing 2-0 at Carlisle in the First Round, they've won three matches in a row including an impressive 6-0 triumph at Brightlingsea Regent 

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Tuesday 23 November

Professional Development League
QPR v Cardiff City @130pm - Tuesday's action begins at the R's training ground where their in-form U23 side welcome their Cardiff counterparts. These games are usually open to the public and free to get into but check with the club on the day 

Champions League
Chelsea v Juventus - the Blues start a huge week with a big game against the Group H leaders. Juve won the reverse fixture 1-0 in Turin back in September but have struggled domestically since then. With only a 46% win rate in Serie A this season, they're seventh and a whopping 12 points behind leaders Napoli. Chelsea, on the other hand, are top in England and should fancy their chances given the Italian club's lack of form. Only hospitality packages are available at this stage

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Crewe Alexandra @745pm - elsewhere in south-west London, there's another very important match, this time in the third tier. The Dons have now lost three in a row to leave themselves just two points above the relegation zone. Crewe are bottom with just two wins from 18 matches and must be beaten. Tickets are available

League Two
Sutton United v Mansfield Town @745pm - travel a little further south of Plough Lane and you end up at Gander Green Lane where you can watch the U's. Matt Gray's side have been frustratingly inconsistent of late, with a loss often following on from a great win. As a result, they're hovering just outside the play-off places but will almost certainly move back into them with three points here. Mansfield are way down in 17th but they've won three on the bounce and look like a side on the up. Tickets are available

National League
Boreham Wood v Notts County @745pm - with three of our local clubs in the top seven, it looks like being an exciting season in the fifth tier. There are a number of games at this level on Tuesday but none bigger than this clash at Meadow Park between the clubs in second and sixth. The Wood have seen their average attendance climb to 807 so far this season, a jump of 24% but they're still the smallest club in this division - there are several clubs in the eighth tier with bigger crowds. So to be competing at such a level is a huge achievement. Notts County are quite the opposite, a former top-flight side, they broke the National League attendance record with 12,843 coming to watch their match against Solihull Moors last weekend. Tickets are available

Southern League Premier Division South
Hayes & Yeading United v Merthyr Town @745pm - there are several games to choose from in the seventh tier but I've gone for this as the hosts are still unbeaten in the league and looking to catch leaders Farnborough who they beat last week. With five games in hand on the top club, they should eventually reel them in and their struggling Welsh opponents should be beaten here

Middlesex Senior Cup Second Round
Brentford B v Broadfields United @745pm - it's a big night for Broadfields as they become the latest non-league club to lock horns with Brentford's second string. The Bees were drawn at home but will play the match at Northwood's ground
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Wednesday 24 November

Championship
Fulham v Derby County @745pm - it's all about the Championship on Wednesday night where we have three fixtures to look forward to. The Cottagers saw off relegation-threatened Barnsley with relative ease on Saturday to go top. They would've expected to slide back to second on Sunday but challengers Bournemouth suffered one of the shocks of the weekend as they lost 3-2 at bottom club Derby. The Rams' position at the bottom is primarily down to points deductions as a result of financial problems and it seems Wayne Rooney's side just won't give up. Alongside all the current adversity, Derby haven't won a league game here since 1969 so it's going to take something really special for them to succeed this time. Tickets are available
Millwall v AFC Bournemouth @745pm - talking of Bournemouth, they're in town too. With two defeats from three, the Cherries are starting to look a little wobbly. In such form, the Den is the last place you want to go and the Lions are hungry for points to break into the top six themselves. The Dorset club won 4-1 on their last visit to SE16 back in April so will hope to replicate that performance. Tickets are available
QPR v Huddersfield Town @745pm - the R's enjoyed a 2-0 win over Luton on Friday night that I think most neutrals would say was an entertaining game. It made sure they held on to sixth going into this round of fixtures. Former Premier League side Huddersfield are just a point and a place below them so normally I would say it's going to be close but QPR's record of two wins from 10 against the Yorkshire club isn't very encouraging. Tickets are available 

Kent Senior Cup Final
Dartford v Whitstable Town @745pm - the Darts host last season's delayed KSC Final at their well-appointed Princes Park stadium. With the hosts top of the National League South and Whitstable next to bottom of the Isthmian South East, almost four levels separate the sides so it will take a minor miracle for the Oystermen to prevail here. If you do want to go to this, tickets must be bought in advance as none will be available on the day
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Thursday 25 November

Middlesex Premier Cup First Round
Enfield Borough v Harefield United Reserves @745pm - currently seventh in the CCL Division 1, the Panthers should start as favourites against Harefield who play a level below them. The north London club currently groundshare at Wingate & Finchley

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Friday 26 November

Premier League 2
There's a great selection of U23 action on Friday night with Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur all hosting games at their 'out grounds' - to borrow from cricket parlance. The Gunners' games at Meadow Park are usually free entry whilst Chelsea (at Kingsmeadow) and Spurs (at Stevenage) are usually £5 but check all the details before you travel

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Saturday 27 November

Premier League
Arsenal v Newcastle United @1230pm - new boss Eddie Howe had to miss his first match in charge of Newcastle after testing positive for Covid-19. His side managed a 3-3 draw against Brentford but slipped to bottom of the table as Norwich won again. The Magpies' style of play was a lot more attacking and entertaining than under Steve Bruce but a trip to the Emirates won't be easy. In fact it's rarely easy for the Toon - they've lost on their last 10 visits. Arsenal's recent good form came to a crashing end on Saturday as Liverpool beat them 4-0 at Anfield - they should still have enough to win here though. Tickets are only available to members
Crystal Palace v Aston Villa @3pm - a match between the clubs in 10th and 15th wouldn't normally be that notable but this is different. Palace have been playing some good stuff of late and their 3-3 draw at Burnley on Saturday extended their unbeaten run to seven matches. Saturday saw Villa record an impressive 2-0 win over a decent Brighton outfit, in part down to the efforts of freshly installed manager Steven Gerrard. How he fares against former midfield rival Patrick Vieira, now in the Eagles' hotseat, will be very interesting to see. Tickets are only available to members

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Fleetwood Town @3pm - after their must-win game against bottom club Crewe on Tuesday, the Dons then play another one of their fellow strugglers. If  Mark Robinson's side can come through this week with two wins, things are going to look a lot more positive. Tickets are available

League Two
Sutton United v Barrow @3pm - like Wimbledon, the U's also play another side from the wrong end of the division. Down in 19th, Barrow are also second from bottom in the form table. The main positives for the Cumbrian club are that they draw more than they lose and they've scored more than anyone in the bottom nine. Overall, you have to fancy Sutton for the win. Tickets are available

National League
Wealdstone v Stockport County @3pm - the Stones picked up a useful point from an impressive 0-0 draw at Wrexham on Saturday. That big game is followed by another huge one back at Grosvenor Vale as FA Cup stars Stockport and their legion of fans pay a visit to Ruislip. The Hatters' televised replay win over Bolton in the First Round was an absolute classic but was by no means a stand-alone performance. Although not in the leading group, a win here could send them into the play-off places. The omens are good as they beat Wealdstone home and away last season, scoring nine times in the process! Tickets are available

FA Trophy Second Round
Clubs from the sixth tier National League North and National League South join the draw at this stage alongside seventh and eighth tier sides who have made it this far. To re-cap, this is a knockout competition for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers with its final at Wembley. The winners of each tie receive £3,750 and the losers get £1,000 - there are only two in London on Saturday

Cray Wanderers v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - London's oldest club have been disappointing this season and are down in the bottom three of the Isthmian Premier at the time of writing. To be fair, they have some games in hand and could climb the table a bit. On Saturday they welcome a side from the level above who are in red-hot form. With six straight wins in the league, Ebbsfleet are up to second in the National League South and have scored more than anyone in the division. Cray couldn't have got a much worse draw
Hanwell Town v Enfield Town @3pm - after causing a minor upset by beating Wingate & Finchley in the previous round, eighth-tier Hanwell have landed another home draw against Isthmian Premier opposition. However, this time it's against one of the title contenders. Neither side have made it this far into the competition before, so the winners will make a little piece of club history

Isthmian League South Central
Bedfont Sports v Basingstoke Town @3pm - up to fourth in the league and having enjoyed a fine run in the FA Cup, the hosts have had a great season. On Saturday they host Basingstoke who sit just above them in the table. The Hampshire club have endured a turbulent few years off the pitch that has seen them forced out of their ground and suffer two relegations. Back in town at a new facility, they seem all set to start climbing the pyramid again

CCL Premier North
Abbey Rangers v Hanworth Villa @3pm - game of the day in the ninth tier is this clash of two of the title hopefuls in the Combined Counties League. Leaders Hanworth are currently 11 points ahead of third-placed Abbey but they have two games in hand so a win here could make things really interesting

SCEFL Division 1
Tooting Bec v Bridon Ropes @3pm - with Stansfeld four points clear at the top, these two sit on level points in third and second respectively. Ropes have played a game less than the hosts and have a much better goal difference so they should start as marginal favourites in this 10th-tier contest

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Sunday 28 November

Premier League
Brentford v Everton @2pm - after four straight defeats, things were starting to look a bit worrying for Bees fans. Thankfully that run ended on Saturday with a draw at Newcastle. Picking up a point against the bottom club isn't a lot to shout about but it's better than nothing. Next they face Everton who are just below them at the foot of the Premier League form table - if they can't beat them then it could be a long winter. Tickets are only sale to members
Chelsea v Manchester United @430pm - the Blues' big week comes to an end with this clash of the Titans at Stamford Bridge - well in most seasons it would be described as something like that but United are really poor this year. So much so that they sacked manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday after their 4-1 humiliation by Watford. Which side turns up for this is anyone's guess and who will be directing things from the bench remains to be seen. Chelsea's main enemy on Sunday is likely to be complacency. Tickets are not available

FA Trophy Second Round
Kingstonian v Farnborough @3pm - if you can't get a ticket for either of the above then head to Tolworth for this tasty looking FA Trophy tie where title contenders from the parallel Isthmian and Southern Leagues do battle

Women's FA Cup Second Round
It's a women's international break which means the Super League and Championship have the week off and the FA Cup takes centre stage. No new clubs enter the draw in this round, which means we have 56 clubs from the third to the seventh tiers remaining. To give you some idea of the gulf in finances between the men's and women's games - sides who win a men's Second Round game receive a cheque for £34,000. A women's team winning this weekend will get only £1,000

Hounslow v Clapton CFC @2pm - one of the most interesting ties of the round sees third-tier strugglers Hounslow welcome the seventh-tier Tons to Rectory Meadow. The hosts have lost every league match this season and haven't scored a single goal. Although playing four levels below, Clapton are likely to bring a few hundred fans and turn it into a home game. The potential for a cupset is huge
Kent Football United v Chesham United @3pm - winless from their nine league matches so far this season, KFU have had a torrid time and prop up the fourth tier FAWNL Division 1 SE. Chesham play in the parallel SW division but are well in the hunt for the title - it looks like an away win
QPR v Billericay Town @1pm - after obliterating Bromley 11-0 in the last round, the R's now face a much tougher opponent from Essex. Currently top of the same fourth-tier division which QPR play in, they should make it a difficult afternoon for the hosts
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Oxford United @2pm - the Tangerines are flying at the moment. Top of the fifth tier London & SE Regional League, they beat the higher-ranked Actonians in the Capital Women's Cup on Sunday. However, they're going to have to be at their very best to beat Oxford who are among the best teams at two levels above

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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