Sunday, 4 December 2022

TLFG: 5-11 December 2022

Greetings everyone and welcome to TLFG.

As I write this, I'm on my break at work in a dark and chilly Staines-upon-Thames.

With my break set to finish in around 40 minutes, I won't get to watch much or any of England's big game against Senegal and maybe that's best for my blood pressure!

As a QPR fan, it's been a big week.

Having seemingly found a great young manager we all loved, Michael Beale has left us for Rangers after only 22 games.

After professions of loyalty, following his refusal of Wolves' offer a few weeks ago, he stunned many by jumping at the chance of going to one of his former employers.

Arsenal play Juventus at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday

Many of the R's fanbase have been left betrayed and outraged by the move and I can't really blame them.

This is when I'm glad of the emotional divestment that I've been undergoing since the start of the year.

QPR have caused me some real joy and pain and given me sleepless nights at times over the past 40 years.

But now that just doesn't happen. My support is far more tempered and rational and I'm still trying to figure out how and when it begun.

I think our most recent spell in the Premier League started the rot - quite simply, our time there was rubbish and I've no real desire for us to go back as it will just mean paying way more to see us lose way more.

My wife is also agitating for a move away from Shepherd's Bush which makes a lot of sense and given that W12 and QPR have been a big part of my identity, I think that subconsciously I've begun detaching myself from both to make any transition easier.

Combine that with the poor experience I had the last time I went to Loftus Road and the increased cost of living and we are were we are.

My week will culminate in a trip to Essex to watch Actonians play Hashtag United in the Women's FA Cup Third Round.

The A's have never been beyond this stage of the competition and it would be huge for them to potentially play a WSL team in the next round - I've been having visions of Spurs at Brisbane Road so here's hoping.


 THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include a high-profile friendly and games in the EFL, National League, FA Youth Cup, Women's Super League, Women's FA Cup and many other games in our local non-league and women's competitions.

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
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 5 December

Professional Development League
Millwall v Ipswich Town @115pm - there are a couple of U21 options on Monday but this one is being played at The Den so it gets my pick. Tickets are £5

Isthmian League Cup Fourth Round
Aveley v Bowers & Pitsea @745pm - the best and only non-league option of the night is this all-Essex affair near Lakeside shopping centre. The sides are currently at opposite ends of the Isthmian Premier so the hosts should start as favourites 

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Tuesday 6 December

FA Youth Cup Third Round
Charlton Athletic v Newcastle United @7pm - after wins over Kingstonian and Northampton Town, the Addicks' U18 side have made it to the Third Round where all the big clubs enter the draw and they've landed this tasty looking tie. The match is being played at The Valley and adult tickets are £5

National League
Boreham Wood v Oldham Athletic @745pm - aside from the FA Cup which they are progressing well in again, The Wood are in the middle of a real slump in form. Following their 1-0 loss at Eastleigh on Saturday, they dropped to 12th. When it comes to a slump in form, it doesn't come much greater than that suffered by former Premier League club Oldham who find themselves playing non-league football for the first time this season. Since their heyday in the 1990s, it's been a struggle for them with off-field problems being the main cause of their decline. Sadly, it looks like the slide is set to continue as they're second from bottom in this division too. Tickets

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Chelmsford City @745pm - a game of high importance at either end of the table. With the Hamlet just one place and two points above the relegation zone and Chelmsford very much in the hunt for the title, both sides need to win. Tickets

Isthmian League Premier Division
Hornchurch v Folkestone Invicta @745pm - with leaders Potters Bar coming unstuck at Carshalton, the Urchins took full advantage by beating Bowers & Pitsea. The 2-0 win put them top and they'll want to cement their position with another win here. Folkestone are usually in and around the top six but this season it's gone a bit wrong. After being in post for 25 years, boss Neil Cugley stood down in late October and results have fluctuated since. Currently 16th, they'll do well to win here. Tickets

Isthmian League South East
Beckenham Town v Chichester City @745pm - having seen their big match with Chatham postponed in midweek, the Becks kept in touch with the leaders by beating East Grinstead on Saturday. With now only one point separating the sides between second and sixth, a win here will put them second

CCL Division 1
Brook House v Langley @730pm - known as AFC Hayes for the last few years, Brook House reverted back to their previous name at the start of the season. Sadly, they've found it a bit of a struggle and are down in the bottom four. The same can't be said of Langley who are top and looking to extend their slender one-point lead
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Wednesday 7 December

UEFA Women's Champions League
Arsenal v Juventus @8pm - the biggest crowd of the night will be found at the Emirates Stadium for this eye-catching group stage match. Despite reigning champions Lyon being in Group C alongside them, it's these two who are first and second after three games. The recent reverse fixture in Turin ended in a 1-1 draw so you'd have to fancy the Gunners to win this time. Adult tickets are £12

FA Youth Cup Third Round
AFC Wimbledon v Leyton Orient @7pm - if you've never been to the new Plough Lane then this could be your chance. Adult tickets for this U18 match are just £5

Southern League Premier South
Harrow Borough v Hartley Wintney @745pm - Boro have been playing some really positive stuff of late, making it to the Third Round of the FA Trophy in the process. As a result, on Saturday they headed all the way down to Cornwall to play title contenders Truro in good spirits. Despite a decent display which saw them take the lead, they lost 2-1 after heartbreakingly conceding a last-minute goal. The result leaves them perched just above the relegation zone and with Hartley two places below them, they simply have to win. Tickets

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Friday 9 December

Premier League Cup
There are a trio of games in this U21 competition on Friday and you can easily see two of them if you have the day off. With Crystal Palace playing Sheffield United at 1pm (at Dulwich Hamlet), you then need to decide whether you want to spend the evening watching Arsenal play Burnley at Boreham Wood or Fulham take on Nottingham Forest at their training ground. Admission varies but it's never more than £5

Isthmian League Premier Division
Aveley v Enfield Town @745pm - there's also a very fine non-league option at Parkside where two of the Isthmian League's current top six go head-to-head. With seven points between first and sixth, the title race is looking pretty exciting as we approach Christmas

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Saturday 10 December

Championship
Millwall v Wigan Athletic @3pm - the EFL makes its full return this weekend but for some reason, the Lions played Sunderland on Saturday meaning they're a week ahead of everyone else. That match on Wearside presented them with the chance to go fourth but they lost 3-0 and slipped to seventh. Wigan got promoted to this division in May but look like going straight back down in their current form. Tickets

League Two
Sutton United v Colchester United @3pm - with four points from their last two games, the U's have now put nine points between themselves and the relegation zone. Colchester are on level points with them bottom two, so a win here would give them a very good chance of an even greater cushion. Tickets

National League
Boreham Wood v Southend United @3pm - after facing one of the division's biggest clubs in midweek, The Wood host another former EFL side on Saturday. Unlike Oldham, the Shrimpers are among the promotion contenders and should bring a decent following. Tickets
Bromley v Wealdstone @3pm - the Ravens had their match on Saturday against Yeovil abandoned after a supporter tragically died. With Eastleigh beating Boreham Wood, they slipped to ninth as a result. With at least a game in hand on most of those above them, they've got a good chance of getting back in the play-off places. The Stones have enjoyed a great recent run and are now on level points with Bromley so it should be close. Tickets

National League South
Dartford v Bath City @3pm - the Darts are the team to watch in the sixth tier, certainly from a TLFG perspective. Fighting hard with local rivals Ebbsfleet for control of top spot, they surrendered it by losing at another contender Chelmsford on Saturday. With five points separating the top four, this looks like being a title race to keep an eye on. Bath are in midtable and should be beaten. Tickets

Isthmian League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Carshalton Athletic @3pm - with only one win from their last six league games, Wingate are struggling to pull away from the bottom four. The odd draw here and there are keeping the points coming in but another season fighting the drop looks certain. Carshalton recorded a hugely impressive 5-2 win over the then leaders Potters Bar Town on Saturday to climb to fifth. A win here could even see them climb into the top three if results go their way. Tickets

Isthmian League South East
Beckenham Town v Ramsgate @2pm - if midweek results go the Becks' way, this will be a clash of the top two. If they win this too, then they'll go joint top with Ramsgate - a huge game!

SCEFL Premier
Stansfeld v Erith & Belvedere @3pm - there's another massive game in the ninth tier where the top two in the SCEFL meet at Glebe's ground. Stansfeld are three points behind the Deres in second but have two games in hand. The stakes are high!

CCL Division 1
Bedfont v RB Kensington @3pm - if both teams win in midweek then they'll come into this as top six sides, meaning this is my pick of the games in the 10th tier

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Sunday 11 December

Championship
QPR v Burnley @1pm - the R's were top a few weeks ago and manager Michael Beale had turned down a move to Premier League Wolves. Since then, their form has dropped off a cliff and they fell to seventh. To make matters worse, the offers kept coming for Beale and he left many supporters feeling betrayed when he accepted the chance to manage his former club Rangers earlier this week. With no replacement yet in place, QPR return from the World Cup break with a match against the leaders. One silver lining - Millwall's 3-0 loss at Sunderland on Saturday saw QPR move back up to sixth without even playing a game! Tickets
Watford v Hull City @3pm - the Hornets are fourth at the time of writing and could go third if Blackburn slip up in their derby match against Preston on Saturday. Hull are fighting to avoid the drop and should be beaten. Tickets

Isthmian League Premier
Cray Wanderers v Haringey Borough @3pm - if you'd prefer a non-league option instead then you're in luck. With Bromley playing at home on Saturday, Cray have to play this match on Sunday. London's oldest club have a top-six spot in their sights and with Haringey in the doldrums of midtable, they should be able to pick up three precious points here. As I understand it, Crystal Palace women should be playing an FA Cup tie here at some point that afternoon too but that hasn't been confirmed yet so keep your eyes peeled for news of a possible double

FA Youth Cup Third Round
Crystal Palace v Manchester United @3pm - one of the ties of the round is being played at Selhurst Park. The Eagles won this U18 competition twice in the '70s but they could well have to wait a while younger as United are the reigning champions. Adult tickets are £5

FA Women's Super League
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United @2pm - there's an extensive programme of women's football on Sunday with this derby topping the bill in my opinion. Both sides suffered what you could probably describe as shock defeats this weekend, losing to Reading and Liverpool respectively. The results leave the Hammers in sixth and Spurs in seventh so it should hopefully provide a highly competitive contest. The match is being played at Leyton Orient. Tickets
Chelsea v Reading @645pm - in the evening game, an ominously good Blues side will hope to end the weekend six points clear at the top. A win against the lowly Royals looks like a foregone conclusion but they'll need Arsenal and Manchester United to slip up in their games. Tickets

Women's FA Cup Third Round
For me, Sunday afternoon is going to be all about the Women's FA Cup. At this stage of the competition, all the sides that have made it this far are joined by all the clubs in the Championship. The draw is still regionalised into north and south to minimise travel. The winners will receive a cheque for £10,000 and a place in the Fourth Round draw alongside all the WSL clubs. There are five ties in the London area:

AFC Wimbledon v Gillingham WFC @2pm - the Dons caused a bit of an upset by beating Billericay Town in the last round, despite playing a division below them. In Gillingham, they take on another third tier side so they should be confident of repeating the feat. The visitors scraped past fifth tier Dulwich Hamlet in the Second Round, so there's definitely some cupset potential here. This is being played at Plough Lane so it should be quite an afternoon for both clubs
Charlton Athletic v MK Dons @12pm - the afternoon's action gets underway at noon at VCD Athletic's ground. Charlton come into the draw in this round and will hope to at least repeat their run to the Fifth Round which they achieved last year. MK Dons play a level below them and made heavy weather of beating fifth tier Worthing in the last round
Crystal Palace v Watford @7pm - the Eagles moved back into the Championship's top six with a useful away win at Lewes on Sunday. Earlier in the afternoon, the Hornets crushed Crawley 6-0 in their delayed Second Round game to make sure of this tie. The visitors are going for the title in the division below Palace and should present them with a tough challenge. With Cray also playing at Hayes Lane on Sunday, this is taking place in the evening
London City Lionesses v Portsmouth @2pm - although LCL could only manage a draw with Southampton on Sunday, they kept their one-point lead at the top of the Championship. Given their position, they are the toughest opposition Pompey could've hoped to draw. Playing in the third tier, the Hampshire side are currently third just behind Watford and should give the Lionesses a good workout
Hashtag United v Actonians @2pm - there's an all-fourth tier match at Aveley's ground, meaning someone from that level will get the chance to go in the hat with the biggest clubs in the land. The Tags are currently top of the division they both play in and are unbeaten. When they last played at the beginning of September, Hashtag won 4-2. Since then, the A's have gone on a great run themselves. With eight wins from their last nine matches, a full-strength Actonians could make quite a game of it


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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1 comment:

  1. I agree James. It's much better to enjoy watching football rather than getting worried over every result of your team. Women's football does this for me now.

    ReplyDelete