Monday, 23 January 2023

TLFG: 23-29 January 2023

Apologies one and all for the tardy publication of this week's piece.

On Sunday I decided to be selfish and go and watch a game rather than stay home and write this.

Normally I would have written things up on my return and although I started it, it got to 10pm and I just didn't have the energy to continue.

Knowing I had the day off on Monday, I thought I'd finish it today and I duly have.

The game in question was my first Actonians match of 2023.

Despite the chilly conditions, it was still bright and sunny.

New signing Anna Shimizu playing for Actonians against Cambridge United

I got to meet up with a few people I haven't seen for several weeks and several months in some cases, so that was very pleasing.

Anyway, the match itself was an FA WNL game against Cambridge United who were only two points behind the hosts at the start of play.

The visitors spurned an excellent early chance before Actonians' Japanese star player Natsumi Kanno opened the scoring once again after winning a penalty which she promptly converted.

It was one way traffic until shortly before half-time when the visitors scored from a corner which the home defence failed to clear.

With the sides tied at the interval, the second half was a totally different affair with the sides rattling in another five goals as the hosts held on for a thrilling 4-3 win.

Now only a point behind Norwich City and AFC Wimbledon who drew to stay second and third, Actonians play the latter in their next game in two weeks time.

One of the highlights of this game for me was getting to see new signing Anna Shimizu in action.

Joining Kanno and Chihiro Ebine, Actonians now have three Japanese players in their starting line-up.

Playing at right-back, I was impressed with how tenaciously she stuck to Francesca Partridge throughout - much to her frustration!

I think that's about it from me, so have a great week and enjoy your football.

THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include a high-profile friendly and games in the FA Cup, Premier League, EFL, National League, FA Vase, 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
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 23 January

Premier League
Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur @8pm - the week begins with a London derby which should keep us all royally entertained. After being predicted to struggle again, Fulham fans must be having the time of their lives. Up in seventh, they can actually move ahead of Spurs into the top five with a win here. Although Tottenham are unbeaten in eight against the Cottagers, they really look vulnerable here. Only hospitality packages appear to be available at this stage

Isthmian League Premier
Aveley v Hastings United @745pm - for most fans, non-league football will provide a more realistic option on Monday. If you're on the east side of town then a trip to Parkside could be for you. The Millers lost their big game against Cray on Saturday, a result which saw the visitors go level on points with leaders Hornchurch. However, with only five points between first an eighth, sixth-placed Aveley are still very much in contention. Promoted at the end of last season, Hastings could still easily get themselves in contention too if they put a good run together
Carshalton Athletic v Lewes @745pm - a narrow win over Bowers & Pitsea on Saturday saw the Robins join the title-chasing group of eight. Like Hastings, Lewes are in the next group of teams looking to emerge from midtable. When the clubs met earlier in the season, it was the club from Sussex who won 2-0

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Tuesday 24 January

League Two
AFC Wimbledon v Walsall @745pm - the Dons aren't losing many at the moment but they're not winning very much either. The Saddlers sit just a point above them in the table so present a decent chance to get a good run going again. Tickets

National League
Bromley v Dagenham & Redbridge @745pm - the Ravens came from behind to earn a draw against Aldershot on Saturday, a result which saw them leapfrog the Daggers into the play-off places. The east London club  have won their last three against Bromley, including a 4-1 win back in August

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Ebbsfleet United @745pm - the Hamlet missed a good chance to climb the table by losing a thrilling game at Slough on Saturday. Tuesday night sees them visited by the leaders who will look to build a lead over title rivals Dartford

Isthmian League Premier
Enfield Town v Billericay Town @745pm - two of the leading group in the Isthmian League lock horns at the QEII Stadium on Tuesday as they look to keep pace with Hornchurch PITCH INSPECTION AT 6PM

Isthmian League South Central
Northwood v Binfield @745pm - the hosts saw their game against Uxbridge postponed on Saturday, allowing Basingstoke to win at Sutton Common Rovers and knock them off the top for the first time in weeks. Next up they face Binfield who have the games in hand to make themselves title contenders too MATCH MOVED TO WEDNESDAY
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Wednesday 25 January

FA WSL Cup Quarter-Final
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea @745pm - having seen their matches postponed or abandoned on Sunday, both these sides will hope Leyton Orient's pitch is up to it on Wednesday. With Spurs in terrible form, the Blues will start as strong favourites

Isthmian League South Central
Southall v Basingstoke Town @745pm - the best non-league offering on Wednesday would appear to be this match between two of the top eight in this eighth-tier division. As mentioned above, Basingstoke went top at the weekend and they'll look to keep hold of that position with a win here

Surrey Senior Cup Second Round
Colliers Wood United v Balham @730pm - there's a south London derby to be enjoyed at Wibbandune where near neighbours on the Northern Line do battle in the county cup

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Thursday 26 January

FA WSL Cup Quarter-Final
Arsenal v Aston Villa @745pm - in this competition's brief history, it began in 2011, the Gunners have been the most successful club with five wins. However, it's been five years since their last triumph. In theory, they're still on for the quadruple but this would definitely be their lowest priority. Villa have never made the final but with Arsenal legend Jordan Nobbs among a number of recruits joining them in the last few weeks, they should have more than a chance of doing something here

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Friday 27 January

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur @7pm - the biggest game of the day is undoubtedly the U21 version of the North London Derby. It's being played at Boreham Wood's ground but as yet, I've found no details about admission. Arsenal U21 games are usually easy enough to get into but the normal rules often don't apply when they play Spurs. Check the club's website for the latest
Chelsea v West Ham United @7pm - no such problems exist for your alternative U21 derby game. Taking place at Kingsmeadow, tickets are £5 and can be bought online or when you arrive

Premier League Cup
QPR v AFC Bournemouth @7pm - the feast of U21 football continues with this match at Hanwell Town's ground. There is usually a small charge, no more than £5, which can be paid on the gate

Essex Senior League
Woodford Town v Romford @745pm - there are also a couple of ESL games if you prefer a non-league option, with this one just about shading it for me. The hosts get some of the best crowds in the division and a win here could take them up to third

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Saturday 28 January

FA Cup Fourth Round
Fulham v Sunderland @3pm - everyone's favourite cup competition is back. The Cottagers saw off Hull City in the last round and have landed another Championship side this time. Given their current form, Fulham could be dark horses for the FA Cup this season and I'd like to hope Marco Silva won't rest too many players. A point off the top six in the second tier, the Mackems should present a slightly sterner test than Hull but they'll do incredibly well to force a replay. Tickets

League One
Charlton Athletic v Bolton Wanderers @1230pm - three wins in a row have hauled the Addicks away from the relegation zone they were getting dangerously close to. Next up they face a talented Trotters side who are among the leading pack. Wanderers boss Ian Evatt has only been in management for a little over four years but has won promotions with Barrow and Bolton and could be set to complete another one in a few months time - definitely one to watch. Tickets

League Two
AFC Wimbledon v Stockport County @3pm - newly promoted County should be a fairly similar opponent to Walsall as they're just a point ahead at the time of writing. The most notable thing about this game is that all tickets are £5 so snap one up 

National League
Barnet v Chesterfield @3pm - without doubt, the game of the day in the fifth tier sees two from the top five meet at The Hive. Although they've only drawn their last two, the Bees have still built a seven game unbeaten run to put them right back in promotion contention. The Spireites have made a lot of headlines in the FA Cup, taking Championship side West Brom to a replay in the Third Round. Their form is marginally better and they won the reverse fixture 3-1

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Eastbourne Borough @3pm - although not quite as daunting a prospect as Ebbsfleet, Eastbourne should be tough opponents for the Hamlet too. With just goal difference keeping them out of the play-off places, the Sussex club will fancy themselves to take at least a point

Isthmian League Premier Division
Hornchurch v Aveley @3pm - by the time this kicks off, this could be first against third. To top it all, it's also a local derby. The Millers won the last game 1-0 back in November in front of a crowd of nearly 700 so this should be well worth a watch

Isthmian League North
Grays Athletic v AFC Sudbury @3pm - it's third versus first at Parkside, meaning this is the pick of the action in the eighth tier. We few TLFG clubs in the North, this provides you with a rare chance to go and see a match of such importance in this division

FA Vase Fourth Round
This knockout competition for clubs in the ninth and tenth tiers with its final at Wembley is down to its last 32 clubs. There is one tie locally:

Egham Town v Peacehaven & Telscombe @3pm - the Sarnies made it to the last 32 last season too and will look to win here to set a new club record for progress in the competition. Currently third in the ninth tier CCL Premier North, they look very evenly matched against Sussex club P&T who are fifth in the parallel Southern Combination 

ECL Division 1 South
Frenford v Stanway Pegasus @3pm - the standout game in the 10th tier is this top-two clash not far from Gants Hill Tube station. The hosts have been top for a long time but got toppled on Saturday after Stanway beat Newbury Forest 3-1. The visitors now lead by a point but Frenford have four games in hand

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Sunday 29 January

Women's FA Cup Fourth Round
With no men's Fourth Round ties taking place in London, why not watch a women's game instead? This is the round that the WSL teams join the draw and most of our biggest local sides are in action

Tottenham Hotspur v London City Lionesses @12pm - with Spurs in terrible form at the moment and LCL currently top of the Championship, this game has got cupset written all over it. The match is being played at Leyton Orient
Chelsea v Liverpool @1pm - after seeing the WSL game between these two on Sunday abandoned in the sixth minute because of a frozen pitch, they will try again in the FA Cup. The Blues have won the last two FA Cups and are very strong favourites to succeed here
Arsenal v Leeds United @2pm - despite failing to win this competition since 2016, the Gunners are the most successful club in its history with 14 titles. Leeds have made the final twice in their history but not since 2008 and they now play in the fourth tier. A home win looks almost certain
AFC Wimbledon v Charlton Athletic @3pm - the Dons, another fourth-tier team to get this far, are having a decent season. Beating higher-ranked opposition Billericay Town and Gillingham in the previous two rounds, the challenge of Charlton doesn't look insurmountable. Nonetheless, the Addicks are fourth in the Championship, on a good run and will expect victory 


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.

Has this blog been helpful? Donate to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund here 


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