Sunday, 23 January 2022

TLFG: 24-30 January 2022

I think it's come as a bit of a surprise to some people, not least myself, that a winter break is upon us.

As someone who pays more attention to football in the lower tiers than the top, I'm still not used to the idea of the Premier League taking time off mid-season.

With the conclusion of Chelsea's win over Spurs on Sunday evening, we now won't have a top-flight game in London until 8 February when West Ham play Watford.

In the meantime, the EFL and Women's Super League will provide the top levels of football in this fair city and there's plenty to choose from as you'll find out below.

So what have I been up to over the last few days?

Gosport celebrate taking the lead against Harrow

Well, I managed to get another game in.

Not only that, it was my third Harrow Borough away game in less than two weeks.

To top it all, the journey to Gosport Borough even involved a ferry ride over from Portsmouth - a form of travel I don't think I've ever used to get to a game, certainly not domestically.

The 2014 FA Trophy finalists have built a tough side who could well finish in the Southern League play-off places and they were comfortable 3-1 winners against Harrow, who had beaten them in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

An attendance of almost 600 was the biggest in the division on the day.

After that glut of games it could well be mid-February before I get to another match but let's see.

Heading back to Portsmouth on the ferry

In other news, Non-League Day is now only eight weeks away and I need to start the Herculean task of putting the match finder together now that the software has arrived from the developer.

It's been pleasing to see that some clubs have already begun announcing their special plans for the day and it gives me the feeling we could be on for a very big year indeed - BUT there's still an awful lot to do at my end!

Lastly from me, many thanks this week to Robert B from Dartford for donating to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund. I really really appreciate it.

                                                             THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in the EFL, EFL Trophy, most of our local non-league competitions, Women's Super League and 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 24 January

Premier League 2
Chelsea v Manchester City @7pm - begin the week with this U23 game at Kingsmeadow. Neither side are quite the force the respective first teams are with Chelsea 11th out of 14 in the PL2's top flight and City only second to an impressive West Ham side. Tickets are £5 and can be bought online in advance or on the gate when you arrive

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Tuesday 25 January

Championship
QPR v Swansea City @745pm - if Blackburn fail to beat Middlesbrough, the R's will move into the automatic promotion places if they win here. Since losing to Bournemouth just after Christmas, Mark Warburton's side have enjoyed four victories on the bounce and now find themselves right back in contention. Swansea picked up their first win in a while against Preston on Saturday. The Welsh club have won the last two league games at Loftus Road but will start as underdogs here. Tickets are available

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Ipswich Town @745pm - the Dons' winless run continued with a draw at Burton on Saturday, which means they're now only a point above the relegation zone. The Tractor Boys have had a disappointing season and sacked boss Paul Cook last month. Kieran McKenna, his replacement, has so far presided over three wins from his four games in charge so things appear to be looking up. Tickets are available

League Two
Leyton Orient v Newport County @745pm - with only one win in six, the O's play-off hopes seem to be fading. Although they have games in hand, the nine-point gap to seventh looks daunting. The same can't be said of the visitors who will go third with a victory. Tickets are available

EFL Trophy Quarter-Final
Sutton United v Harrogate Town @745pm - playing in the competition for the first time following their promotion from the National League, Sutton now find themselves in the quarter-finals. Midtable Harrogate, on paper, should be beaten and then they'll be only 90 minutes away from Wembley. Tickets are available

National League
Bromley v Woking @745pm - the Ravens' important 2-1 win at Grimsby on Saturday saw them move above Boreham Wood into fourth to make them London's top club in this division. The Cards have only won two of their last 10 games against Bromley and current form would suggest they're unlikely to win here too. If the hosts do prevail and other results go their way, then they could go level on points with the leaders. Tickets are available
Wealdstone v Notts County @745pm - in terms of resources, light years have separated these clubs, with the Stones doing really well just to be at this level. However, the Ruislip-based club announced this week that they'd received investment from the owner of the Rajasthan Royals cricket club Manoj Badale. How much he's put in and other details remain to be seen but they'll hope to bring some new players in soon as the current crop find themselves just above the relegation zone. Former top-flight club Notts County are one of the biggest clubs in the National League, have won four in a row, have games in hand and should be formidable opponents. Tickets are available and I would buy in advance

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Eastbourne Borough @745pm - there are three games to choose from in the sixth tier with this game probably the best on offer. The Hamlet picked up their first league win since the beginning of December on Saturday to keep themselves in the play-off places. Eastbourne could have leapfrogged them in the table if they'd beaten Bath but they lost 2-1 and slipped to 11th. It's always advisable to buy your ticket in advance for Dulwich games although midweek games are usually significantly quieter than Saturday fixtures

London Senior Cup Second Round
Harrow Borough v Brentford B @745pm - aside from their penalty shoot-out victory over Corinthian Casuals in the last round, Boro can't buy a win at the moment. A 100th-minute defeat at Yate last weekend and a comfortable 3-1 loss at Gosport on Saturday means they have to go back to before Christmas when they narrowly beat Tiverton at Earlsmead. The Bees' second-string take no prisoners, putting four, five and 11 goals past the last three non-league sides they've played so it's not going to be an easy night for Steve Baker's side. Tickets are available on the gate and Brentford season-ticket holders get in for half price

Isthmian League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Carshalton Athletic @745pm - despite their dominance, leaders Worthing still haven't been able to shake off the Towners. So with the Sussex club only drawing with Hornchurch on Saturday, Enfield closed the gap to four points with a thrilling 5-3 win at Kingstonian. Elsewhere, Carshalton also played their part in another exciting game as they lost 5-4 at Cray Wanderers. If Worthing come unstuck against Folkestone, a win here will leave Enfield breathing down their necks

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Wednesday 26 January

FA Women's Super League
Chelsea v West Ham United @7pm - postponed from before Christmas, these two will have another go on Wednesday. The Blues come into this on the back of a disappointing 0-0 draw at Brighton which saw them slip to third behind Manchester United. The Hammers enjoyed a 3-0 win over Everton on Sunday to extend their unbeaten run and move up to seventh. Since joining the WSL in 2018, West Ham have played Chelsea nine times in all competitions with their best result being a 1-1 draw in their first season. They'll do very well to match or better that here. Tickets are available

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Thursday 27 January

FA Women's Super League
Arsenal v Brighton & Hove Albion @745pm - the Gunners missed the chance to open up a four-point lead at the top by only managing a 1-1 draw at Manchester City in Sunday's late game. In fact, it took an injury-time equaliser from Tobin Heath to make sure they avoided defeat so it could have been a lot worse. The result means they've only won two of their last five league games so a well-organised Albion side could conceivably hold them again. Tickets are available

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Friday 28 January

Professional Development League
Charlton Athletic v QPR @1pm - another game to be postponed from earlier this season, this U23 match at Dartford's ground could be a fine start to a double of games to begin your weekend but make sure you check all the details before you travel as this one was previously called off at short notice. UPDATE - this has been moved to Charlton's training ground and it is unclear whether the public will be admitted, check on the day

Isthmian League North Division
Barking v Aveley @745pm - with their 4G pitches pretty much permanently rented out to other teams (both clubs groundshare with two other clubs), these two must be among the richest clubs in Essex! Their fortunes on the pitch, however, couldn't be much more different with Aveley challenging Canvey Island for the title and Barking trying to stay out of the bottom three

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Saturday 29 January

Championship
Fulham v Blackpool @3pm - with the Premier League taking a short winter break until early February, the Championship takes centre stage this weekend. First up we have the Cottagers who now seem to be accelerating away with the title after a 3-2 win at Stoke left them eight points clear at the top. Blackpool have flirted with the play-off places since getting promoted but have been unable to sustain their challenge and a midtable finish looks most likely. At first glance, a home win looks almost certain but The Seasiders did manage to win the reverse fixture 1-0 back in September so they know what it takes to beat them. Tickets are available
Millwall v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - the Lions suffered their third consecutive defeat on Saturday at the hands of Blackpool, which left them 11 points off the top six. If they are to have any chance of hauling themselves back into contention then they'll have to beat one of the current incumbents. Although right up there for most of the season, the Baggies' form has been poor of late so their win over struggling Peterborough was absolutely crucial. Up in fifth, they should get at least a point here. Tickets are available
QPR v Reading @3pm - as mentioned above, the R's are on a cracking run coming into this week and could even be second by the time this kicks off. Reading are dangling just above the relegation zone at the time of writing so badly need to get something from this game. Although not a London club, they play just to the west of the capital and QPR are geographically the closest team to them in this division. The derby feel to the game often leads to unpredictable results and a decent attendance. The fans also see it as a battle to decide who are the 'real' and 'fake' hoops as both clubs have the same blue and white hooped kit. Tickets are available

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Shrewsbury Town @3pm - following on from their tough midweek game against Ipswich, the Dons next welcome fellow strugglers Shrewsbury for a hugely important game. Trailing the Shropshire club by two points at the time of writing, a win would do wonders for morale. Tickets are available

National League
Barnet v Stockport County @3pm - there might well be no Premier League action to enjoy but the National League is spoiling us with four very decent-looking games instead. The Bees have been a bit lacklustre this season but the midtable position they've achieved is way better than anything they managed last year when only Covid stopped them getting relegated. Stockport have endured some tough seasons since falling out of the EFL but they're looking good this year and could possibly go top with a win here. Tickets are available
Boreham Wood v King's Lynn Town @3pm - despite being one of the smallest clubs in the division, The Wood are right up there with all the other title contenders. With only three wins this season, the visitors are as good as down already. Tickets are available
Bromley v Notts County @3pm - my game of the day at this level, takes place at Hayes Lane where two of the division's top clubs do battle. They haven't played many times over the course of history but it's the London club who have the marginally better record. The two drew 1-1 at Meadow Lane back in October and we could well see a similar outcome here. Tickets are available
Dagenham & Redbridge v FC Halifax Town @3pm - there's the prospect of a bit of corker at Victoria Road too. The Daggers were among the early pacesetters and they're still very much in the race for a play-off place. If they can get something against title challengers Halifax then they should be capable of pushing on. Tickets are available

Southern League Premier Division South
Metropolitan Police v Gosport Borough @3pm - my game of the day in the seventh tier is between two of the top six in this division. Although all the leading clubs have played a different amount of games, it would seem that The Met, Farnborough and Hayes & Yeading United are the main title challengers. Gosport are sixth and could mount a very credible play-off challenge but they've currently played more games than anyone in the top nine

Isthmian League South East
Phoenix Sports v Cray Valley PM @3pm - in the eighth tier there's a south-east London derby to be enjoyed. The hosts have endured a tough season and are bottom but with 10 points from their last six games, they're mounting a bit of a fightback. CVPM, on the other hand, are fourth and still in with a shot at the title so both sides could do with the points

CCL Premier Division North
Southall v Hanworth Villa @3pm - if you like a derby, we've got a west London one too. Taking place at Ashford Town's ground, the fourth-placed hosts welcome the leaders. However, even at this stage of the season, the title already looks sewn up as Hanworth are unbeaten and 18 points clear. The 'All have played fewer games than anyone in the division and should climb to second by the time they catch up. Stupid as it sounds, this match could well end up deciding the title

SCEFL Division 1
Stansfeld v Bridon Ropes @3pm - the hosts' great season continued on Saturday with a 4-2 win over Faversham Strike Force to keep themselves two points clear of Sutton Athletic at the top. Bridon Ropes hung on to fifth place despite playing a London Senior Trophy tie 

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Sunday 30 January

Women's FA Cup Fourth Round
Arsenal v London City Lionesses @1230pm - Sunday is all about women's football and more specifically the next round of the FA Cup. Like the men's team, Arsenal are the most successful team in FA Cup history and they should make progress here. Although LCL are a fine side on a good run, they play a level below the WSL leaders and it would be the shock of the competition if they were to win. Tickets are available
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City @2pm - elsewhere in north London, Spurs play WSL strugglers Leicester. Neither side have been to the final before and you'd expect Tottenham to have a way better chance than the Foxes of making it this year. Tickets are available



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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