Sunday 20 August 2023

TLFG: 21-28 August 2023

Greetings one and all and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

I'm going to keep this fairly brief for now as I've run out of time and need to be up early for work.

I've started writing previews for this week's games but have only got as far as Sunday and plan to update as the days progress.

This piece goes right through until next Monday's bank holiday which is a big day for non-league football often featuring lots of derbies.

This season's FA Vase competition begins on Friday

Until I can find more time to write the previews, please use the maps which are as comprehensive as I can get them.

My own football travels this week took me to Oakside in north-east London.

Located right next to Barkingside Tube station on the Central Line, it's the home of Redbridge and tenants Newbury Forest and London Seaward.

I went to see Actonians play the latter in their first match of the new FAWNL Division 1 South East (fourth tier) season.

The A's squad was a bit thin going into this, with several players required to work in jobs affected by England getting to the World Cup Final, and they endured a disappointing first half which saw them 2-0 down at the interval.

An early penalty in the second period made it 2-1 but as they pushed for an equaliser, the hosts managed a decisive third.

Like the World Cup, it was interesting to see the referee seemingly add on loads of injury time as the game never seemed to end!

Next up for Harry Berkeley's side is the visit of Swindon Town in the league cup on Sunday - sadly I'll be at work.


There are matches taking place every day this week - the often barren day of Thursday has been filled out with some youth games.

Aside from that there are games in the Premier League, EFL, FA Cup, FA Vase and the Women's Championship plus all the other non-league and women's matches involving local clubs.

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
Monday fixtures - yellow pin

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.

Monday 21 August

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Arsenal @8pm - a London derby at Selhurst Park gets the week off to a cracking start. Both sides began 2023/24 with wins but whilst the Gunners will be looking to at least match last season's performance which saw them finish as runners-up, securing top-flight status will be the Eagles' primary target. Palace have only won one of their last eight games against Arsenal and they'll do well to get another one here. Tickets are only available to members

Professional Development League
If you can't get a ticket for the above then why not partake of an U21 double instead? Starting at The Valley at 2pm, you could see Charlton Athletic take on Wigan Athletic before heading west to watch QPR host Coventry City at 7pm - this is being played at Hanwell Town


Tuesday 22 August

Premier League International Cup
West Ham United v Valencia @7pm - the PLIC returns for another season on Tuesday. If you've never heard of it, it's an U21 competition for European clubs which sees all games played in England over the course of the season. Aside from Valencia, other non-English sides competing this year include Athletic Bilbao, Benfica, Celtic, Feyenoord, Lyon, Monaco and PSV but there are others too. Last season's competition was won by PSV who beat Crystal Palace 3-1 in the final at Selhurst Park. Sadly for West Ham, they didn't make it through the group stage whilst Valencia made it to the semi-finals. This match is being played at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground

FA Cup Preliminary Round Replays
Cray Valley PM v Lordswood @745pm - the hosts have real pedigree in FA competitions in recent years. In 2019 they made it to the FA Vase Final at Wembley and the following year won through to the First Round of the FA Cup. Lordswood, who play a level below them, were always going to be tricky opponents but they should have too much for them in the replay
Metropolitan Police v Epsom & Ewell @745pm - the Met are another team with a reasonable FA Cup record, making the First Round twice since I began this blog in 2011. On those occasions they suffered narrow defeats to Crawley Town and Newport County. E&E play a level below after winning promotion to the CCL Premier South and have never been beyond the Fourth Qualifying Round although they did make the FA Vase Final way back in 1975
Erith Town v Burgess Hill Town @745pm - the Dockers play a level below the Hillians so they did well to come back from Sussex with a 0-0 draw. Back at Bayliss Avenue and now unbeaten in five games, you'd have to give them a decent chance of causing an upset
West Essex v Maldon & Tiptree @745pm - it was an almost identical story at Park Drive where ninth tier West Essex recorded a goalless draw with a side from the level above them. M&T hit the headlines in 2019 when they made it all the way to the Second Round before losing to Newport County, a match which was shown live on TV

FAWNL Division 1 South East
QPR v Chesham United @745pm - if you want to start paying more attention to women's football after the Lionesses' fine World Cup performance, the R's begin their league campaign with this match at Hanwell Town. The west London club finished a slightly disappointing seventh in this fourth-tier division last season whilst Chesham finished just above what would have been the relegation zone if the bottom two hadn't dropped out midway through the season


Wednesday 23 August

FA Cup Preliminary Round Replays
New Salamis v Grays Athletic @745pm - the hosts have made rapid strides up the football pyramid in recent years so this is only the fourth time they've entered the FA Cup. The best they've done is make the First Qualifying Round which they'll get through to if they win here. Grays, who play in the same division as New Salamis, have made the competition proper on numerous occasions and made it to the Second Round in 2005 when they lost 3-0 to Mansfield Town. It finished 1-1 on Saturday and could well go all the way to penalties
Woodford Town v Bowers & Pitsea @745pm - the Woods appeared to be drifting out of the cup until two late goals saw them salvage a 2-2 draw in Essex against a side from the division above them. Known to draw excellent crowds for a ninth-tier team, Ashtons could be lively on Wednesday 


Thursday 24 August

Development football
There's a smattering of U23 and U18 matches on Thursday. All the details are on the match map but please doublecheck everything with the hosting clubs on the day as venues and kick-off times can be subject to change


Friday 25 August

Premier League
Chelsea v Luton Town @8pm - the Hatters are back in the big time but have yet to host a game as their ground improvements haven't finished yet. They began the season with a 4-1 loss at Brighton and it's unlikely to get much easier here. However, the big-spending Blues haven't won either of their opening two, losing Sunday's derby at West Ham 3-1 despite the opposition playing most of the second half with 10 men. There haven't been a huge amount of games between these two in recent decades, hence the reason Luton haven't won at Stamford Bridge since 1986. Tickets have sold out

FA Vase First Round Qualifying
This season's FA Vase gets underway on Friday night with three ties in the London area. If you don't know, it's a national knockout competition for clubs in the ninth and 10th tiers with its final at Wembley. The winner of each tie receives £550, the loser £160

Epsom & Ewell v AFC Varndeanians @745pm - for the second Friday running, the Salts play host to a tie in an FA competition. Last week they drew with the higher ranked Metropolitan Police in the FA Cup. This time they face fellow ninth-tier opposition who, interestingly, play their home games at the Withdean Stadium which was formerly home to Brighton & Hove Albion
West Essex v Harwich & Parkeston @745pm - like E&E, the hosts also have to negotiate an FA Cup replay before this but with that out of the way, they should fancy themselves to win this. Playing a level above the visitors, they beat them in the same round last year but it did go to penalties after a 0-0 draw
Woodford Town v Park View @745pm - there's a very similar match-up here too with one of the better sides in the Essex Senior League hosting a club from the level below. Since The Woods relaunched in 2018, they struggled to get through the qualifying rounds until last season when they made it to the Second Round. During that run of four matches, they took part in three penalty shoot-outs with Fakenham Town finally getting the better of them. North London club Park View only moved up to senior football in 2017 and have yet to win a match in this competition

Saturday 26 August

Premier League
Arsenal v Fulham @3pm - it's a day of derbies in the top flight. First up, the Gunners go for a third win in a row after seeing off Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace in their first two games. They should get it too as the Cottagers have made an indifferent start, most recently suffering a 3-0 loss at home to local rivals Brentford. Fulham are also 10 games without a win against Arsenal and according to my records, have never beaten them away from Craven Cottage. Tickets are only available to members
Brentford v Crystal Palace @3pm - with four points from their opening two games, the Bees have kind of picked up from where they left off last season. However, despite wins over most of the big clubs during their two years in the Premier League, the four games against Palace have all ended in draws. In fact, the last time they managed a league win over their south London opponents was way back in 1963. Tickets are only available to members

Millwall v Stoke City @3pm - after a fine opening day win at Middlesbrough, it's been downhill all the way for the Lions. Three consecutive defeats since then have tempered any promotion expectations. The Potters have made a better start but have only won two of their last 10 games against the Londoners. Tickets

League One
Leyton Orient v Cambridge United @3pm - having lost several key players in the close season, the newly promoted O's are finding life hard in the third tier. With only one point from four games, they find themselves second from bottom. After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, the visitors are currently top on goal difference and have only lost on two of their last 10 visits to Brisbane Road. Tickets

League Two
AFC Wimbledon v Forest Green Rovers @3pm - the Dons also had a poor 2022/23 but have got off to a much better start. Unbeaten in their opening four games, they come into this match in third. The visitors finished bottom of League One last season and are struggling again with only one win from four. Tickets

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Barnet @3pm - game of the day in the fifth tier sees the leaders travel to the club who are rock bottom after four games. The Bees made the play-offs last season so to see them challenging again isn't a huge surprise. To see the Daggers ailing is though. Two consecutive top-10 finishes made me think they would be doing better but it is, of course, very early. Tickets

National League South
Aveley v Dartford @3pm - with three wins from four, the Millers have made a fine start to life in the sixth tier. The Darts were runners-up last season but are in the bottom four after failing to win a game. Located at opposite ends of the QEII Bridge on either side of the Thames, this is a derby too

Isthmian League Premier
Enfield Town v Cray Wanderers @3pm - to continue the regal theme, I recommend a visit to the QEII Stadium for the match of the day in the seventh tier. The Towners had looked like contenders for a play-off place last season but fell away and missed out on the post-season. Cray, London's oldest club, crept into the top five on goal difference but lost out to Hornchurch on penalties. Many expected them both to challenge again and Enfield have come flying out of the blocks with three wins from three under new boss Gavin Macpherson. Cray have lost all three so badly need to get something here

FA Vase First Round Qualifying
There are a few games in the eighth, ninth and 10th tiers on Saturday but none are really grabbing my attention. Therefore I think the focus should be on this. 

Wembley v Long Crendon @3pm - with tickets for the latter rounds often hard and/or really expensive to get in the FA Cup, this competition offers a much more realistic 'Road to Wembley' for most groundhoppers. If you live in London and want to undertake such an adventure, then starting at Wembley FC would seem to be the obvious choice. The ninth-tier club haven't made a good start and are bottom of the CCL Premier North after three games. Long Crendon play a level below them and have made an unexceptional start too so this should be close. Also of note, one of my work colleagues will be an assistant referee for this match
Abbey Rangers v Horley Town @3pm - two sides from the CCL Premier South meet at Addlestone Moor. Both sides have made it into the latter rounds in recent years with Abbey making it to the Fifth Round in 2019 before losing to eventual finalists Cray Valley PM. The pair also met in this competition two years ago with Abbey winning on penalties after a 2-2 draw
Cobham v Crowborough Athletic @3pm - both of these sides have made it to the Fifth Round since 2017. With 10 points from their first four, Crowborough are top of the SCFL and should start as favourites
Ilford v Hackney Wick @3pm - the Foxes have never had a great record in the Vase but in the FA Amateur Trophy which preceded it, it's a very different story. With two wins from six finals, they have one of the best records. Sadly, that competition ended back in the '70s so it's a distant memory for those that can remember it. The visitors have only been playing senior football since 2017 and have only made the First Round once
VCD Athletic v Redhill @3pm - after a decade in the Isthmian League, the Vickers are back in the ninth tier and in the FA Vase. In years gone by, the south-east London club have done pretty well in this with a couple of runs to Fifth Round in 2006 and 2007. Redhill haven't ever made it that far but have won all three of their opening league games in the CCL Premier South and should provide a stern test
Banstead Athletic v Colliers Wood United @3pm - the A's suffered relegation to the 10th tier last season and moved across to the SCFL where the majority of clubs come from Sussex. It hasn't always been so lean for the Surrey club though as they reached the semi-finals of the Vase in 1997 where they lost over two legs to Whitby Town. CWU play a level above and should start as favourites
Bridon Ropes v Tunbridge Wells @3pm - the hosts have never been beyond the first round of the Vase and they're unlikely to do too well this year either. Not only do Tunbridge Wells play in the division above them but they made it all the way to the final in 2013 where they lost to Spennymoor Town

Sunday 27 August

Watford v Blackburn Rovers @12pm - there's a random bit of second-tier action on Sunday lunchtime at Vicarage Road. The Hornets must have felt like title contenders when they raced into a 4-0 half-time lead over QPR on opening day but they haven't won since. Now three without a win in all competitions, manager Valerian Ismael must be fearing for his job! Rovers missed the play-offs on goal difference last season and will be desperate to improve on that disappointment this year. Tickets

FA Women's Championship
Watford v Durham @12pm - with the World Cup only finished a week, the women's second tier gets underway in London on Sunday. The Hornets won promotion back to this level last season and will be keen to get some early wins to establish themselves. I saw them demolish Actonians in pre-season to once again demonstrate how big the gap is between divisions in the women's game. Durham finished in midtable so are exactly the side Watford need to be beating. The match is being played at Wealdstone's ground. Tickets 
Crystal Palace v Reading @2pm - the Eagles have spent the last few years playing most of their games at Bromley's ground but this season they've moved to Sutton United and this will be their first match there. The opposition on this occasion will be the Royals who have just come down from the WSL. Sadly, off-pitch problems affecting the Berkshire club have seen them lose a lot of their senior pros and they could struggle again this year. Tickets
Charlton Athletic v Sheffield United @3pm - the Addicks managed a top-four finish last season and with manager Karen Hills signing a new deal this week, they'll hope to push on. The Blades finished a rather disappointing eighth in 2022/23 and will definitely be hoping for better. This match is being played at The Valley. Tickets

FAWNL Cup Determining Round
The league cup for teams in the third and fourth tier starts on Sunday. What's a determining round I hear you ask? Well, it decides which teams go forward into the FAWNL Cup and which go into the lesser FAWNL Plate so whether you win or lose, you get at least one more game

London Bees v London Seaward @2pm - playing up at The Hive, the women's branch of Barnet host opposition from the division below. The Bees struggled last season and got off to a disappointing start on Sunday at Rugby so could do with a win here to boost morale. As mentioned above, Seaward started their season with a win but it was a solid and not particularly exciting performance. On paper, a full strength Bees should win
Actonians v Swindon Town @2pm - the A's first home match of the season sees them welcome opposition from the parallel Division 1 South West. The Robins finished sixth last season and begun this campaign with a 4-2 win over newly promoted Abingdon United. The hosts finished third at this level last season, which was their best ever, but the manager and several key players left over the summer and as a fan, I just want them to be competitive - I'll be happy with a top-six finish. PS - as an added bonus, SL Benfica will be playing Clapton CFC in another women's match at the same time on the adjoining pitch
AFC Wimbledon v Chatham Town @2pm - the Dons are widely expected to challenge for the Division 1 South East title again this year and thrashed London Bees 5-0 in a recent friendly. On Sunday they take on another third-tier team and it will be really interesting to see how they get on
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Portsmouth @2pm - the Tangerines have brought in a lot of new players over the summer and really should finish higher than the sixth place they managed in their fourth-tier division last season. They began with an impressive 3-1 win at Haywards Heath Town but the visit of third tier Pompey represents a big step up in class and they'll do really well to win again

Monday 28 August

Premier League 2
Crystal Palace v Fulham @1pm - never been to Selhurst Park? Now's your chance as it's playing host to this entertaining looking U21 match on Monday lunchtime. Adult tickets are a very reasonable £5

National League
Barnet v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - the Bees suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at struggling Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday to miss the chance to take a clear lead at the top. Newly promoted Ebbsfleet moved into the play-off places with a commanding 3-0 win over Kidderminster meaning that this should be one of the matches of the day in the fifth tier
Bromley v Southend United @3pm - the Ravens came from behind to earn a point at Rochdale on Friday as a stormy game which saw two players sent off ended 2-2. The Shrimpers made a brilliant start to the season and then got docked 10 points by the league for off-pitch problems. As an act of defiance, they responded with a 2-0 home win over Eastleigh to move themselves to -1 points. I wouldn't put it past them to get something here too
Wealdstone v Dagenham & Redbridge @3pm - the Stones suffered their first defeat of the season by losing 3-1 at Aldershot on Saturday, a result which leaves them in eighth. As mentioned above, the Daggers picked up a great win over Barnet on Saturday to move out of the relegation zone so they should head to Grosvenor Vale with renewed confidence

National League South
Aveley v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - the Millers conceded an injury-time goal to lose the derby against Dartford 1-0 and miss the chance to go joint top with Worthing. With Hampton's pitch not ready yet, this match has been switched to Parkside giving the hosts a chance to try and get back into the title race in front of their own fans. Having to play so many away games must be one of the reasons the Beavers find themselves in the bottom five
Dartford v Dover Athletic @3pm - after grabbing that hugely important first win of the season at Aveley, the Darts will look for another three points to propel them into the top half of the table. Dover have only got one win themselves and have lost their last three against the Princes Park club

Isthmian League Premier
Dulwich Hamlet v Chatham Town @3pm - in terms of attendance, these are probably the two biggest clubs in the division so we should expect to see a crowd of between 2,000-3,000 for this one - not bad for a seventh-tier game. Both sides are new to the division with the Hamlet coming down from the NLS and the visitors coming up from the eighth tier. The hosts have only managed one win since relegation with Horsham inflicting an injury-time defeat on Saturday to leave them in 15th. Chatham, however, are tearing it up and have a 100% record after four games. If you do want to go, I'd strongly advise buying tickets in advance and arriving at least 30 minutes before kick-off  
Haringey Borough v Enfield Town @3pm - joining Chatham at the top with four wins from four are Enfield. Their latest match saw them beat Cray Wanderers 2-0 which means their defence have still only conceded one goal. On Monday they take on struggling Haringey in a north London derby which they should be expected to win again

Southern League Premier South
Hanwell Town v Hayes & Yeading United @3pm - elsewhere in the seventh tier there's a west London derby between these two local rivals. I went to the reverse fixture last season which H&YU narrowly won. Both sides suffered disappointing Saturdays with Hanwell losing 5-3 at AFC Totton and Hayes & Yeading going down 3-1 at home to Winchester, leaving them both on six points which means this should be close
Hendon v Harrow Borough @3pm - the traditional August bank holiday derby between these old rivals often produces some high-scoring thrillers. Like the two clubs above, they've made underwhelming starts. The Greens are locked on six points with Hanwell and Hayes & Yeading whilst Harrow have yet to win a game after their surprise reprieve from last season's relegation. You'd have to favour Hendon, who have several players who were with Harrow last season, to win

Isthmian League South Central
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Southall @3pm - the eighth tier isn't throwing up any obvious humdingers. I've gone for this as the two have shared grounds for the last few seasons so there should be a bit of rivalry. Southall now play at Burnham and got their first league win there on Saturday, beating Badshot Lea 3-1

Isthmian League South East
Phoenix Sports v Cray Valley PM @3pm - there's also a bit of a derby on the south-east side of town. The hosts won promotion back to this level from the SCEFL last season but have yet to win a game whilst CVPM are so far unbeaten

Essex Senior League
Buckhurst Hill v Woodford Town @3pm - one game that should be well worth watching in the ninth tier is the Roding Valley Derby. Only played for the first time last season, these two clubs are trying to cultivate a decent rivalry on the north-east side of town. The hosts haven't made a great start but recorded a fine 3-0 win at FC Romania in the FA Vase on Saturday. Woodford, on the other hand, have made a cracking start. Currently unbeaten and joint top with Romford, they're also still going strong in the FA Cup and FA Vase - definitely a side to watch this season

SCEFL Premier
Fisher v Glebe @3pm - currently both in the top four, Glebe missed the chance to go joint top by only managing a 2-2 draw with Erith Town while the Fish were beating Camberley in the FA Vase. The hosts have won all three of their league games so should start as marginal favourites

CCL Division 1
British Airways v Bedfont @1130am - there's another morning kick-off down by Heathrow airport where we have a tenants versus landlords groundshare derby to enjoy. At this incredibly early stage, it's Bedfont who are two points ahead of BA in midtable

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!

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1 comment:

  1. North Greenford v Wembley on Monday is 3pm kick off.