Monday, 15 May 2023

TLFG: 15-21 May 2023

Well dear readers, the season is winding down fast.

There's even less on than last week but there should be enough to keep you going and I've included one or two games from outside the M25 to plug a few gaps.

If you read last week's piece, you may have seen how I didn't expect to see any games this week but in the end I did.

With rail strikes affecting services to the West Country and with a slightly suspect knee, I opted to miss the Bristol Half Marathon and stay in London instead.

Actonians are second only to Chelsea in the West London women's football rankings


This gave me the chance to head to Bedfont Sports to watch the John Greenacre Memorial Trophy Final (aka the Greater London Women's Football League Cup) between Actonians Reserves and Tooting Bec.

With Actonians having already won the league title, they were going for the double against a side playing in the division below them.

On paper, they could expect to win but on probably the warmest day of the year they made heavy weather of it.

Goalless at half-time, they enjoyed a huge let off when the referee gave a controversial penalty to Tooting Bec only to change his mind after consulting with the assistant referee.

Although they had quite a bit of possession, the underdogs didn't create much and with that huge opportunity taken away from them, it fell to midfielder Fiona Moloney to win it for Actonians with a precise finish across the keeper deep into injury time at the end.

With the first team enjoying their highest ever league finish, the reserves winning the double for the second season running and the third team also enjoying their best finish, it's been a remarkable season for the club founded by chair Linda Fox back in the late '90s.

Now second only to Chelsea in the West London women's football rankings (ahead of QPR, Fulham and Brentford), this is a very special club who achieve so much with so little compared to their neighbours with their hugely recognisable brands.

Linda spoke to Sky News about some of the financial challenges facing the club earlier on Sunday - if you know any businesses or individuals who might want to sponsor such a great club, there are some very good opportunities available so get in touch with her.

 THE WEEK AHEAD

With many of our local non-league competitions now concluded, there's far less to watch than normal. The highlights of the next few days include games in the Premier League and Women's Super League and it's also Non-League Finals Day at Wembley.

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
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 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.

Tuesday 16 May

MCFL Premier Division
PFC Victoria London v Stonewall FC @8pm - with all the promotion and relegation issues already decided, this midtable game doesn't have a huge amount riding on it. It is, however, being played in the shadow of West Ham United's ground and features a club for Polish ex-pats against the capital's leading LGBT side. Just to clarify, this is a PFC home game but the venue has been switched. The two last played at the same venue on Saturday with Stonewall winning 6-3
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Wednesday 17 May

Women's Super League
West Ham United v Chelsea @815pm - the Blues beat a determined Manchester United side 1-0 in the FA Cup Final at Wembley on Sunday to win the competition for the third year running. They're now looking to pip them to the WSL crown too and will go top if they win this game in hand. The Hammers are in terrible form and should be beaten. Tickets

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Friday 19 May

The Robert Rowan Invitational
Brentford v Manchester City @730pm - get your weekend underway with this eye-catching U21 game at the Bees' GTech Stadium. The game is being played in memory of former technical director Robert Rowan who died at the age of 28 from a cardiac condition. All proceeds will go to a local heart-health charity. Adult tickets are just £3
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Saturday 20 May

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Brentford @1230pm - Spurs' loss to Aston Villa on Saturday means they're now seventh with two games to go. The Champions League is effectively beyond them and a Europa League place is looking decidedly dodgy too. If they lose this, they could even be overtaken by the Bees by the end of the season which would be pretty bonkers. Tickets are only available to members. If you do manage to get one, then it will be valid for the WSL game against Reading which follows at 415pm
Fulham v Crystal Palace @3pm - both sides notched comfortable victories on Saturday as their stress-free cruise towards the end of the season continued. The Cottagers moved eight points clear of Chelsea to pretty much secure a top-half finish. As for Palace, they're now in a fight with the Blues to see who comes 11th but that's about as good as it's going to get. Tickets are only available to those with a previous booking history

Women's Super League
Tottenham Hotspur v Reading @415pm - as mentioned above, this match is being played as the second part of a doubleheader with the men's team at the THS, which I think is a first. A draw for Spurs against the bottom club will be enough to see them avoid relegation. If you can't get a ticket for the men's game then you can buy one just for this 

A bit further afield

FAWNL Play-Off Final
Nottingham Forest v Watford @1pm - there's a hugely important game in the women's third tier on Saturday in Milton Keynes. Promotion throughout the women's pyramid is notoriously difficult with only one team usually going up. It's even harder at this level where the winners of the two regional divisions have to play-off for one place in the second tier although I believe this is the last season it's happening. Both sides won their respective divisions on goal difference to further highlight the incredibly tight margins that decide whether or not you progress at this level. Tickets

Friendly
International Surrey Football v Matabeleland @3pm - switching back to the men's game, there's an unusual friendly at Dorking Wanderers where the ISF team take on an African side who I last saw play during the Conifa World Football Cup here in London in 2018. Tickets are £5
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Sunday 21 May

Premier League
West Ham United v Leeds United @130pm - the Hammers' defeat at Brentford means they can technically still be caught by the visitors who are currently one point adrift of safety. With Sam Allardyce now in charge, the Yorkshire giants have a chance and did well to fight back for a point against Newcastle on Saturday. It could be a tense afternoon. Some tickets may become available via the club's ticket exchange

Non-League Finals Day
One of my favourite days of the year sees the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals played back-to-back at Wembley with both included on the same ticket for £25

FA Vase Final
Ascot United v Newport Pagnell Town @1215pm - intended primarily for clubs in the ninth and tenth tiers, this year's Vase final sees the champions of the Combined Counties League Premier North take on last year's winners who finished third in the parallel ninth-tier United Counties League Premier South. For me, Ascot will start as favourites but NPT know what it takes to win and are the first team to make consecutive finals since Whitley Bay won it three times between 2009-11.

FA Trophy Final
FC Halifax Town v Gateshead @415pm - this competition is for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers. On this occasion, we have two fifth-tier clubs who finished two points apart in midtable. Frequently the Trophy ends up being contested by clubs who have either just missed out on promotion or have already been relegated and it's all a bit flat but that's definitely not the case here. I actually got to see Halifax when they played Harrow Borough back in January, scraping past the Southern League strugglers on penalties. Since then, they've beaten Maidenhead United, Aldershot Town and Altrincham on their way to Wembley. The Shaymen last won the Trophy in 2016 which was also the first Non-League Finals Day. Gateshead have never made the final and picked up the notable scalps of Oldham Athletic and Barnet on their way to the national stadium. Halifax finished above Gateshead this season and took four points off them in the league, which makes them my favourites

Women's Super League
Chelsea v Arsenal @1230pm - if both sides win their midweek games, which they should, then this will be an absolutely huge game. In that scenario, the Blues will start the game two points clear at the top with two games to go, the Gunners will be five points behind and Manchester United sandwiched in between. Effectively, if Chelsea win and the Red Devils drop any points against rivals Manchester City in the day's other game, then Emma Hayes' side will be champions with a game to go. Tickets have sold out

LSE Women's Regional League
Millwall Lionesses v Worthing @3pm - if the visitors win their midweek game then they'll be just a point behind leaders Ebbsfleet United with two games to go, one more than the top club. In other words, if they win here and Ebbsfleet drop points against Saltdean in their final game the same afternoon, then the title will be theirs

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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