Monday, 6 December 2021

TLFG: 6-12 December 2021

Greetings one and all.

I'm going to keep this brief as I've had a long weekend and have gone over time writing this week's piece.

My football week was all about going to Wembley for the Covid-delayed 2020-21 Women's FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea.

Currently first and second and seemingly way better than everyone else in the Super League, a great contest looked to be on the cards.

Sadly that never really materialised as Fran Kirby's early goal set the tone for a comprehensive 3-0 win for the Blues which rarely looked in doubt.

Hampton & Richmond Borough are offering FREE ENTRY on Tuesday 
if you register in advance

A record attendance in the competition's 50th year also looked likely but fell about 5,000 short as the rumoured 48,000 ticket sales only translated into an eventual crowd of 40,942 as people fell by the wayside for various reasons. I had a few in my group who contracted Covid or had very unfortunately suffered bereavements at short notice.

Nonetheless, it was a fun afternoon as always and tickets are already on sale for this season's final on 15 May - I fully intend to go back for more.

Lastly from me, many thanks this week to regular reader Kelvin W from London 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 Europa League, Europa Conference League, Premier League, EFL, FA Cup, National League, most of our local non-league competitions and the Women's Champions League 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 6 December

FA Cup Second Round
Boreham Wood v St Albans City @745pm - the Second Round concludes with this big Hertfordshire derby. Sadly for neutrals, it's already sold out but it is being shown live on ITV4. The Wood are currently second in the National League, a level above St Albans so they will start as favourites. The hosts made it to the Third Round for the first time last season where they lost to Millwall but it would be new territory for the visitors who have fallen at this stage several times in the past

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Tuesday 7 December

Professional Development League
QPR v Swansea City @130pm - the day's action begins at the R's training ground in Harlington. These two are currently battling to avoid the wooden spoon in the southern half of this U23 league. Entry to matches at this venue are usually free but check on the day to be sure

League One
Charlton Athletic v Ipswich Town @7pm - two former top-flight teams meet at The Valley for what is now a midtable third-tier game. The fact that Ipswich aren't challenging for the title saw manager Paul Cook sacked on Saturday evening after a disappointing draw with Barrow in the FA Cup. The Addicks have improved greatly under Johnnie Jackson and made smooth progress in the cup on Friday at Gateshead. On current form, you'd have to fancy the hosts. Tickets are available

League Two
Leyton Orient v Swindon Town @745pm - the O's demolished Tranmere 4-0 in the FA Cup on Saturday whilst Swindon won 2-1 at Walsall. The two are both in the top eight in the league and looking to push on - the visitors could go second with a win. The Wiltshire club are unbeaten in three against Orient with bookies offering 5/2 on an away win. Tickets are available

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Braintree Town @745pm - the deal of the week is to be found at the Cleo Saul Beveree where the hosts are generously offering FREE ENTRY to all as long as you register in advance. If Hampton win this rearranged match against one of the division's strugglers, they will move into the play-off places

Isthmian League Premier
Haringey Borough v Worthing @745pm - there are several good games in the seventh tier on Tuesday but none that really stand out. I've gone for this because it features one of the league leaders at this level - Worthing. The Sussex club are currently five points clear at the top and will hope to see that extended to eight at Coles Park

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Wednesday 8 December

Uefa Women's Champions League
Chelsea v Juventus @8pm - the highlight of the night is this women's match at Kingsmeadow. Fresh from their comprehensive FA Cup Final win over Arsenal on Sunday, the Blues need to refocus almost immediately for this eye-catching European game. Currently top of Group A and unbeaten after four matches, Chelsea will win the group if they defeat their Italian opponents. Tickets are available from £9

FA Youth Cup Third Round
QPR v Oldham Athletic @7pm - the country's most prestigious U18 competition has reached the Third Round where all the Premier League and Championship sides' academy teams join the draw. The R's have been handed a home tie against the Latics which will be played at Loftus Road. Tickets are £3 on the gate
Sutton United v Preston North End @7pm - having seen off Gillingham and Stevenage, the U's next welcome Lancashire club PNE to Gander Green Lane. Tickets are £5 on the gate

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Thursday 9 December

Uefa Europa League
West Ham United v Dinamo Zagreb @8pm - after the high of beating Chelsea to keep their place in the Premier League's top four, the Hammers must now get themselves up for this final group match against Croatian outfit Dinamo, knowing that they've already secured top spot. Expect quite a bit of squad rotation. Tickets are available

Uefa Europa Conference League
Tottenham Hotspur v Stade Rennais @8pm - despite being one of the biggest sides in the competition, Spurs go into this final group game needing a win by a healthy margin to make absolutely certain of finishing second. Their French opponents have already won the group so they might make a few changes and give Tottenham a chance. Tickets are available 

Uefa Women's Champions League
Arsenal v Barcelona @7pm - our trio of top European matches is completed by this fixture at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners were poor against Chelsea in the women's cup final on Sunday and got thrashed 4-1 by the Catalan giants in the reverse fixture two months ago so it looks like being a tough evening. A draw against the reigning European champions will be enough for Arsenal to make sure of a second-place finish. Tickets are available 

FA Youth Cup Third Round
Bromley v Reading @745pm - the Ravens are one of only two non-league clubs to make it to this point in the competition - with only 64 teams remaining in total, that's quite an achievement. They made it to this round last season too but lost to Swindon. A win against the Royals would be their best ever performance. Tickets are £3 and can be bought in advance

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Friday 10 December

Premier League
Brentford v Watford @8pm - the Bees have had a mixed week which has seen them win, lose and draw. Four points from three Premier League games isn't a bad return for a newly promoted club but they'll be very disappointed to have conceded late on at Leeds on Sunday to drop two points. Despite that, they're sitting nicely enough in 12th which I'm sure their fans are pretty happy with. After their headline-grabbing win against Manchester United a couple of weeks ago, things have gone downhill for the Hornets with three defeats on the trot. I mentioned last week how they've been on a very tough run of fixtures so this is their chance to have a crack at one of the division's less stellar sides. Brentford's record against Watford is pretty terrible with last season's victory being their first since 1977. Tickets are not available

Essex Senior League
West Essex v Clapton @745pm - your non-league option of the night takes place on the north-eastern side of town at Wadham Lodge. With both sides in the bottom half, it's not a hugely notable fixture but it should be competitive. Please note - Clapton are not the same club as Clapton CFC who also play their home games at this ground
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Saturday 11 December

Premier League
Arsenal v Southampton @3pm - there are three Premier League games in the capital this weekend and none of them are big box office material. The Gunners have a match on Monday against a hapless Everton side which they should win to go back up to fifth, just a point adrift of the Champions League places. The Saints are winless in four and down in 15th and don't look like get anything here. Arsenal are unbeaten in 26 games at home league games against them. Tickets are only available to members
Chelsea v Leeds United @3pm - given the Blues are third and Leeds 14th, you'd have to say this looks like a pretty certain home win and the bookies agree with odds of 1/3. Despite this, the atmosphere generated by two of the "liveliest" sets of fans in the top tier should make things a bit more interesting. Games between the two in recent years have been few and far between but it's the London club who've dominated since Leeds' last win in 2002. Tickets are not available

League One
Charlton Athletic v Cambridge United @3pm - neck-and-neck on level points in midtable, these two couldn't be much closer. Cambridge enjoyed promotion last season but with one win from their last five league games, they're on a bit of a slide. The Addicks are moving in the other direction and I feel that that momentum will carry them through. Tickets are available

League Two
Leyton Orient v Crawley Town @3pm - the O's could be back in the play-off places by the time this comes round and feeling confident of another three points. Crawley are a little too close to the bottom clubs for their liking so really need to pick up something here. Tickets are available

National League
Wealdstone v FC Halifax Town @3pm - the Stones' loss at title-chasing Bromley on Saturday left them seven points clear of the relegation zone. However, with clubs below them having games in hand, that cushion might be a little misleading and some more points soon would be very handy. In Halifax, they face another one of the division's top five so it could be a challenging afternoon. Tickets are available

Southern League Premier South
Harrow Borough v Chesham United @3pm - no real standout games in the seventh tier this week but by Saturday this could be a battle of two sides in the top six. For that to happen, Harrow would have to at least win the reverse fixture at Amy Lane when the sides also play on Tuesday night in a rearranged game from earlier in the season

Isthmian League South Central
Hanwell Town v Basingstoke Town @3pm - the Geordies welcome former National League South club Basingstoke to the Powerday Stadium for what should be a well contested and well-attended game. Hanwell are seventh but have two games in hand on second-placed Basingstoke which if won would put them ahead of them on goal difference - therefore this is potentially a clash of two of the top three

FA Vase Third Round
This national knockout competition primarily for clubs in the ninth and 10th tiers with its final at Wembley is down to its last 64 clubs. The draw is still regionalised at this stage with five ties taking place in London over the weekend

Abbey Rangers v Athletic Newham @3pm - both sides are in similar positions in the parallel Combined Counties and Essex Senior Leagues in that they have games in hand which could put them second if won. Both sides are also pretty new to senior football with this being the hosts' seventh season in the competition and only Newham's second. Rangers notably made it to the Fifth Round in 2019 before losing to the eventual runners-up Cray Valley PM - I think they'll just about have enough to win
Glebe v Beckenham Town @3pm - after squeaking past CCL leaders Hanworth Villa in the last round, the hosts should fancy their chances against another one of the top CCL clubs. Both currently third in their respective leagues and playing not too far apart in south-east London, this tie has a lot going for it
Buckhurst Hill v Wroxham @3pm - tenth tier Buckhurst Hill are making their debut in the Vase this season and are doing incredibly well. Currently top of the ECL Division 1 South, the Essex club should be able to give Wroxham, from the division above, a really tough afternoon and a cupset is a real possibility
London Lions v New Salamis @3pm - there's a similar scenario at Rowley Lane where the CCL Division 1 leaders host one of the top clubs from the level above. It's also a north London derby so it has a lot of potential too

CCL Premier South
Walton & Hersham v Badshot Lea @3pm - if for some reason the thrills and spills of the FA Vase aren't for you, then head south-west for the match of the week in the ninth tier where the top two meet for what should be a cracker

SCEFL Division 1
Tooting Bec v Sutton Athletic @3pm - two of the top four lock horns for what should be an exciting clash at Imperial Fields. With leaders Stansfeld in Vase action, a win could put Sutton Athletic top

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Sunday 12 December

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Everton @430pm - after impressing for most of the season, the Eagles have suddenly hit a bad patch with Sunday's narrow defeat against Manchester United becoming their third loss in a row. They're still six points clear of the relegation zone and will view anything less than a victory against a struggling Everton side as a failure. Tickets are only available to members

FA Vase Third Round
Stansfeld v Frimley Green @3pm - as a result of their groundshare with Glebe, Stansfeld have to wait until Sunday to play their very winnable tie against Frimley. The Surrey side play a level above the hosts but aren't doing too well and look vulnerable 

FA Youth Cup Third Round
Chelsea v Leyton Orient @12pm - the Blues have dominated this competition in recent years, winning it seven times since 2010. However, three years have now gone by without them winning it as Liverpool, Manchester City and Aston Villa have taken the title instead. This year's campaign starts against the O's at Kingsmeadow where tickets are a very reasonable £5

FA Women's Super League
Arsenal v Leicester City @645pm - the Gunners' busy week comes to an end with its easiest fixture. Currently bottom after losing all their games, newly promoted Leicester are unlikely to threaten too much in this evening kick-off at Meadow Park

Women's FA Cup Third Round
AFC Wimbledon v Ipswich Town @1pm - with last season's delayed competition finally completed at Wembley on Sunday, we can focus once again on this season's action which is running to schedule for now. The Dons currently play in the fourth tier of the women's pyramid so the visit of third-tier leaders Ipswich to Plough Lane looks a challenging one. No ticket details have yet been released
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v London City Lionesses @1pm - the Tangerines have smashed all expectations by making it this far. Top of the fifth tier, they caused a stir by beating third tier Oxford United in the last round and now face the highest-ranked team in the southern half of the draw. Second in the Championship, LCL will start as overwhelming favourites but this is the FA Cup and anything can happen

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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