Sunday 5 February 2023

TLFG: 6-12 February 2023

Hello dear readers and welcome to this week's TLFG.

Some of you may have noticed that I launched a podcast last week which saw me attend the FA Trophy match between Harrow Borough and FC Halifax Town, which was an expericence to produce.

I went to another match on Sunday (Actonians v AFC Wimbledon) with grand plans of putting something else together but when I got there I decided I just wanted to watch the game.

Having written a few match reports recently too, I remembered just how much it gets in the way of enjoying a action!

Taking photos is fine but trying to record anything just adds a level of stress which you don't need, especially when you have a child in tow.

West Ham United host Chelsea in a Continental Cup semi-final on Thursday

My eldest came along to the game today to be a mascot.

Trotting out alongside captain Naomi Graham, she was joined by one of her U10s team-mates, as she filed through the flag waving guard of honour of which I played a part.

Regular TLFG reader Liam, a Dons fan, joined me for this match but he would have no part in the flag waving.

On paper, the Dons definitely started as favourites and had already beaten the A's 2-0 at Plough Lane back in September.

The tempo was high, tackles flew in and chances came and went for both sides.

On balance though, I felt the visitors were shading things and they took the lead on 24 minutes when Ellie Dorey's low shot beat a diving Amy Butler to her left.

I have to say I feared the worst but two minutes later Meila D'Santos had swept home an equaliser from close range to ensure it was 1-1 at the break.

The second half was a similarly tight affair with the deciding goal  coming just after the hour courtesy of an Ashlee Hincks penalty after Sarah Coomson's hand ball.

A great late chance fell to Samaira Khan but she scuffed her effort and the Dons held on for the win.

With games in hand on all those around them, second place looks like theirs to lose.

Sadly for them, though, only one team goes up and leaders Hashtag United look home and dry as they won again on Sunday.

As for Actonians, anything higher than the fifth place they achieved last season should be seen as a success and that looks quite possible.

At the end of Sunday's game, Naomi Graham came over to discuss the match with fans and had no trouble picking out Liam who she's now met three times and makes a point of having a bit of banter with on each occasion. 

Strangely, the west London club will play the Dons again in their next match in two weeks time.

Paired together in the Capital Senior Cup, will it be third time lucky for Actonians? 

Sadly Liam won't be there - we were both looking forward to the fourth round of his duel with Naomi.

I do have a couple of days off towards the end of the week and like the look of the two Continental Cup semi-finals but realistically I think it could well be a couple of weeks before I get to a match again.

There's also a chance I'll got another podcast out, even if it's just an audio version of this - let's see.

Finally, a huge thanks to Stephen H from Feltham who donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund - I really, really appreciate it.

Enjoy your week and let me know what you get up to.

UPDATE - a podcast is now available to accompany this piece




The highlights of the next few days include a high-profile friendly and games in the Premier League, EFL, National League, FA Vase, Women's Super League 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.

Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin

Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin

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 February

FA Youth Cup Fifth Round
Watford v Arsenal @7pm - the sixth week of 2023 begins with the Hornets' U18 side taking centre stage with this important last-16 tie against the Gunners at Vicarage Road. Tickets are £5


Tuesday 7 February

Premier League International Cup
Arsenal v PSV Eindhoven @7pm - the following night it's the U21's turn to entertain you. Taking place at Boreham Wood, the visiting Dutch opposition are currently unbeaten and top of Group B

Isthmian League Premier
Wingate & Finchley v Hornchurch @745pm - there are several games in the seventh tier on Tuesday but I've gone for this as it affects both ends of the table. W&F recorded a fine 1-0 win over promotion contenders Cray Wanderers on Saturday to move clear of the bottom three. The Urchins won 2-1 at Folkestone Invicta to move up for fourth

Isthmian League South East
Beckenham Town v Ramsgate @745pm - after beating frontrunners Chatham in midweek, the Becks missed the chance to go top by losing at Whitehawk on Saturday. On Tuesday they have another opportunity when they welcome the Rams who sit just two points above them in second

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Woodford Town @745pm - in the ninth tier, two of the top four meet at Oakside. If the hosts lose, they'll be left in second  a significant eight points behind leaders Enfield and will have played two games more

CCL Division 1 Cup Second Round
Rayners Lane v Langley @745pm - the best offering in the tenth tier sees the team in fifth host the leaders in the division's cup competition. With Langley losing at RB Kensington on Saturday, Rayners Lane will feel they have a chance to progress

Wednesday 8 February

FA Women's League Cup Semi-Final
Arsenal v Manchester City @715pm - more commonly known as the Continental Cup, this competition for clubs in the top two tiers of the women's game is down to its final four. City are the reigning champions and are unbeaten in six games since the start of the year. Although the Gunners are also unbeaten inn 2023, they could only manage a 0-0 draw at West Ham on Sunday which makes me feel the visitors might edge this. Being played at Boreham Wood, tickets are available from £8

Premier League International Cup
Crystal Palace v Braga @7pm - there's some more European U21 action on Wednesday at Dulwich Hamlet's ground where the Eagles welcome Portuguese opposition. If they win, it could put them joint top of Group C but only if Everton lose to Dinamo Zagreb in one of the night's other games


Thursday 9 February

FA Women's League Cup Semi-Final
West Ham United v Chelsea @715pm - on paper, the result of this semi-final looks like a foregone conclusion. The Blues are usually a safe bet to beat anyone outside the WSL's top four so if the Hammers do get through it will be a big upset. However, Paul Konchesky's side raised a few eyebrows by drawing with Arsenal on Sunday so maybe this won't be as straightforward as it first appears. Although this cup is probably their lowest priority, Chelsea have made it to the last three finals and won two of them. My money's on a Chelsea v Manchester City final. Tickets are available from £8


Friday 10 February

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Fulham @7pm - most of the action in town on Friday takes place in the east with this U21 match at the Hammers' Rush Green facility topping the bill. With four wins from five, the hosts have been in great form of late and another win will push them further clear of the bottom three

Essex Senior League
Romford v Athletic Newham @745pm - if you prefer a non-league game then this local derby at Barking's ground should be a fine way to spend the evening


Saturday 11 February

Premier League
West Ham United v Chelsea @1230pm - a very busy day of top-flight action gets underway at lunchtime with this derby at London Stadium. Although still very much in the battle to avoid relegation, David Moyes' side picked up a precious point at high-flying Newcastle on Saturday. That result should give them renewed confidence as they prepare to welcome the Blues who have only won one of their last five. Some tickets appear to be available via the club's exchange service
Arsenal v Brentford @3pm - with some great results in recent weeks, some Gunners fans must have been starting to believe that this was going to be their year. Victory at struggling Everton on Saturday would've put them eight points clear but they lost 1-0. Fortunately, Manchester City lost at Spurs on Sunday so they didn't close the gap. It's not going to get much easier when the Bees arrive either. The west London club breezed past Southampton on Saturday and are top of the division's form table. Tickets are not available
Crystal Palace v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - after losing at Manchester United on Saturday, Palace are now winless in six. Not the kind of form you want when going into a match with your biggest rival, especially when they're flying. The Seagulls moved up to sixth on Saturday by beating Bournemouth and don't seem to be missing Graham Potter at all. Tickets are not available
Fulham v Nottingham Forest @3pm - two sides who came up from the Championship together at the end of last season have experienced contrasting fortunes. Like Brighton and Brentford, the Cottagers have had a cracking campaign and sit snugly in eighth. Forest looked like dead certs for relegation but the club kept faith in boss Steve Cooper and some fine recent results have seen them climb to 13th. Also, this part of south-west London has been good to them as they've won on their last two visits. Tickets 

QPR v Millwall @3pm - if the Premier League doesn't appeal or the tickets are a bit pricey then this derby in the second tier should keep you royally entertained. The rivalry between these two has become pretty fierce over the last 10 years or so and there's usually a significant security operation in place around Shepherd's Bush. On current form, the Lions should win but a look at the record books says they haven't won at Loftus Road since 1989. There have been quite a few draws though and there were 3-2 and 4-3 wins for the R's in 2021 and 2020. Tickets 
Watford v Blackburn Rovers @3pm - if the high-octane nature of the derby above isn't up your street, then there's a very decent alternative at Vicarage Road where two of the top eight meet. The Hornets could move into the top four if they win. Tickets

League One
Charlton Athletic v Fleetwood Town @3pm - their 2-1 win at Exeter made it four wins from five for the Addicks but given their poor start, they're still 10 points adrift of the play-off places. Lancashire club Fleetwood are on a worrying run of four straight defeats and teeter just above the relegation zone. A home win looks highly likely. Tickets

League Two
AFC Wimbledon v Carlisle United @3pm - the Dons went to leaders Leyton Orient on Saturday and gave a good account of themselves during the narrow 1-0 defeat. Next up are Carlisle who are third at the time of writing and looking to keep themselves in the automatic promotion places. Tickets

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Solihull Moors @3pm - with the Fifth Round of the FA Trophy also taking place on Saturday (no ties are in London), there's a very depleted look to the fixtures in the fifth tier. The only one in London is this midtable affair between the Daggers and Solihull who lost out in the play-offs last season. A win for the hosts could see them break into the play-off places. Tickets

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Slough Town @3pm - with new owners coming in at the Beveree, there's been a lot of upheaval behind the scenes in recent weeks. It's not going well on the pitch either, despite the installation of a new manager. Now without a win since the 19 November, Mel Gwinnett's side need to start picking up points fast. This match against The Rebels can probably be classed as a derby as they sit just outside London on its west side not a million miles from Hampton. The Berkshire club are just ahead of the hosts in the table, so both sides really need to get something

Southern League Premier South
Hendon v Winchester City @3pm - there's a relegation six-pointer at Silver Jubilee Park where two of the sides currently in the relegation zone prepare to scrap for three vital points.  Wins for relegation rivals Harrow Borough and Plymouth Parkway saw the Greens slide back into the bottom four after their defeat at Chesham on Saturday. There's a full programme of fixtures on Tuesday night which could put them back up the table but whatever happens then, this is still a hugely important game for both sides

Isthmian League North
Grays Athletic v Stowmarket Town @3pm - everything's much of a muchness in the eighth tier so I've gone for this match between two of the top seven in this division. After losing back-to-back matches against the top two, it appears Grays' title challenge is well and truly over. However, the big news to come out of the Essex club this week is the confirmation of their new groundshare at Tilbury next season. This brings to an end their 10-years at Aveley and sadly takes them out of TLFG's catchment area

FA Vase Fifth Round
Harefield United v Peacehaven & Telscombe @3pm - 586 clubs in the ninth and tenth tiers entered this season's competition, which has its final at Wembley, and now only 16 remain. Harefield are the only London club left. Usually out in the opening couple of rounds, the Hare haven't been this far since 1990 when they lost in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Yeading. Given that they're currently midtable in the CCL Premier North, they've done incredibly well to get this far. Sussex club P&T saw off Egham Town in the last round and should start as marginal favourites

CCL Premier North
Broadfields United v Wallingford & Crowmarsh @715pm - if you fancy doing at least a 'double' on Saturday then these two have brought forward a midweek game to Saturday night. Rayners Lane, whose ground they share, are also at home earlier in the afternoon so you could spend most of your day at Tithe Farm if you feel so inclined

SCEFL Division 1
FC Elmstead v Lydd Town @3pm - the pick of the games in the tenth tier looks like this top-six clash at Sutton Athletic's ground in Kent. 


Sunday 12 February

FA Women's Super League
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United @12pm - it's all about women's football on Sunday and the action gets underway early at the THS. From memory, this was supposed to have been played just after the Queen died so it got postponed. Fast forward five months and Spurs sit bottom of the WSL form table after another, albeit spirited, defeat to Chelsea. United, on the other hand, have turned out to be Chelsea's main title rivals but even they dropped points against Everton this weekend giving the Blues a two-point lead at the top. The smart money would appear to be on an away win

FA Women's Championship
Crystal Palace v Durham @12pm - neck and neck in midtable, the best either of these two can realistically hope for is to finish sixth. After a brilliant opening day win at London City Lionesses, Palace have only won four more games and are nowhere near the battle for promotion

FA WNL Southern Premier
London Bees v Portsmouth @2pm - with Oxford coming unstuck at Cheltenham, Pompey took full advantage and beat Gillingham to go top. Hosts London Bees lost at home to a struggling Plymouth side and slipped into the bottom four themselves 

FA WNL Division 1 South East
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v London Seaward @2pm - with Hashtag United winning handsomely at Cambridge United on Sunday, the Essex club opened up an almost unassailable eight-point lead at the top. It's now really all about the battle to finish second and third. Sunday's results mean that only one point separates the teams from second to sixth and two of those sides meet here. As an Actonians fan who has seen them beat Ashford fairly comfortably twice this season already, I fancy the visitors to get something here and ultimately finish above them

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.

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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