Monday 4 September 2023

TLFG: 4-10 September 2023

Greetings everyone and welcome to the first TLFG of autumn 2023.

I say autumn but you'd never know it as we're set to have hot sunshine all week with some days predicted to hit 30C!

Anyway, with the weather chat out of the way, I next need to apologise for being late with this week's guide.

The main reason for this is that I decided to spoil myself and actually watch some football this weekend - I know, it doesn't happen often!

On Saturday an opportunity opened up to take my youngest daughter to her first ever FA Cup tie so I took it even though Harrow Borough were considerable underdogs against Bracknell Town.

My youngest daughter threatens to invade the pitch at Earlsmead

The first half saw the visitors dominate and they should've been out of sight but were only 1-0 up at the interval.

The second half was much closer with Boro probably having more of the possession but they couldn't really fashion any clear-cut chances and a 90th-minute strike saw Bracknell seal a 2-0 win.

Overall an encouraging performance from Jordan Berry's side and hopefully that first win will come soon.

On Sunday I made my first trip of the season to Rectory Park to watch Actonians take on Cambridge City in a FAWNL match.

After an unsettled summer and defeats in their opening two games, a bit of unease was beginning to set in.

However, with a strong squad available for the first time, the A's were dominant from start to finish.

A goal up after two minutes, they were all over the visitors and raced into a 3-0 half-time lead.

With the heat kicking in, Actonians didn't push quite as hard in the second half but managed a fourth 10 minutes from time.

The 4-0 win was no more than they deserved and it looked almost as if normal service had been resumed.

Whether they'll manage a top-three finish again is unclear but they should be competitive and I can't ask for more than that.

Sadly, I haven't had time to write any previews but I'm off all day on Monday and Tuesday and will hopefully have everything written up by then.

Today (Monday) I plan to make it three matches in three days by going to watch QPR U21s play Fleetwood Town at Loftus Road at 1pm - entry is usually pay what you want.


There's an international break this week so there are no Premier League or Championship games taking place.

However, there are literally loads of games at all other levels with matches in the EFL, National League, FA Trophy, Women's Championship and FA Youth Cup among others.

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 or youth matches. 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 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 4 September

Professional Development League
There are two lunchtime games in this U21 league on Monday so it depends on the location which is best for you. QPR play Fleetwood Town at Loftus Road at 1pm whilst Charlton Athletic host Birmingham City at The Valley at 2pm. It's usually pay what you want at the former and tickets are £3 at the latter

FA Youth Cup Preliminary Round
The country's most prestigious cup competition at U18 level continues this week with several ties spread over the next few days - I'm not an expert in football at this level so can't really make any meaningful recommendations but check the match map to see what's on near you and doublecheck all the details before you travel


Tuesday 5 September

EFL Trophy
AFC Wimbledon v Stevenage @7pm - this year's much maligned EFL Trophy gets underway in London this week with one if its biggest refuseniks hosting a game.  Although there have been a few tweaks to this competition over the years,  it's mainly been the preserve of clubs in League One and League Two. However, in 2016, it was decided to admit a load of U21 sides from Premier League and Championship clubs too. This did not go down well, with the Dons particularly unhappy with the decision. I remember at one point they were trying to pretend the games didn't exist and were actively encouraging supporters not to attend until the EFL told them off. There's still no great love for the competition so this is likely to be a very low-key occasion, something reflected by the £12 ticket price

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Slough Town @745pm - there's been a lot of change at the Beveree over the last few months both on and off the pitch and it will be really interesting to see how this affects things. One thing that did happen was the installation of a new pitch which has taken so long to complete that this will finally be Hampton's first home game of the season. One thing I've also been told is that tickets on the day cost a whopping £19! It's interesting that it's almost impossible to find this figure anywhere on the club's website or social media which both advise that it's cheaper to buy online - even then it's still £17. Aside from all that, it's an important game as both sides have made a poor start and are in the bottom five

FA Cup First Round Qualifying Replay
Carshalton Athletic v Lancing @745pm - Sussex club Lancing did well to hold the Robins to a 1-1 draw on Saturday. Playing a level below Carshalton, it was always going to be tough for them and you'd expect the south London club to prevail on home turf. A home tie with Kingstonian awaits the winners
Haringey Borough v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - the Hamlet's underwhelming start to the season continued on Saturday when they could only manage a 1-1 draw against fellow Isthmian Premier strugglers Haringey. To be fair, they were denied by a last-gasp penalty but with only one win from six games this season, they badly need a win soon. The hosts haven't managed any wins yet this season - will the cup bring them the breakthrough?
Northwood v Binfield @745pm - these two produced an entertaining 2-2 draw in Berkshire on Saturday and it should be close again. Back on home soil, you'd expect Northwood to get through as they've made a good start to the season whilst Binfield have yet to win
Walthamstow v Bedford Town @745pm - these two produced a 0-0 draw in the original tie at the weekend so hopefully they'll provide something better at Wadham Lodge. It's not surprising it was close as they're two of the best sides in the eighth tier - the Stow are currently sixth in the Isthmian North whilst Bedford Town are top of the Southern Division 1 Central. The winners will host Gorleston in the next round

Wednesday 6 September

Essex Senior League
Sporting Bengal United v West Essex @745pm - the non-league MOTD would appear to be this match at Mile End Stadium between two of the ESL's current top four. A win will put the visitors top

SCEFL Division 1
Lewisham Borough v Forest Hill Park @745pm - there's a groundshare derby to be enjoyed in the 10th tier. A the time of writing, FHP are fifth but have played a game more than Lewisham who are 10th. Both have games in hand on the current leaders so are still in a strong position. In fact a win for the visitors here could put them top

FAWNL Southern Premier
Hashtag United v Ipswich Town @745pm - there are a trio of decent looking women's games on Wednesday night but this third-tier match is the pick of them. The Tags led their fourth-tier division pretty much all season to win promotion to this level and have begun by winning their first two games to sit joint top in the early table. Another side to be sharing the lead with them are Ipswich. The Suffolk club are a very strong side and finished as runners-up on goal difference last season as Watford took the title. They'll be desperate to go one better this year

Thursday 7 September

FAWNL Division 1 South East
London Seaward v QPR @745pm - with a win, a loss and a draw, the hosts have made a very mixed start to the season. I watched their win over Actonians on the opening day and although it was deserved, it wasn't particularly convincing. The R's won their first two and although they lost 5-3 on Sunday it was away to the title favourites AFC Wimbledon who were clearly given plenty to think about. Clubs seem to be taking a couple of weeks to settle down (Actonians' squad is now way stronger than it was at Seaward) so it will be really interesting to see who comes out on top here. The match is being played at Redbridge's ground which is right next to Barkingside Tube station

Friday 8 September

Essex Senior League
Woodford Town v Hullbridge Sports @745pm - the hosts have been one of the non-league teams catching my eye in the early stages of this campaign. Although they eventually bowed out of the FA Cup at the weekend, they're still in the FA Vase and will go top of the ESL if they beat midtable Hullbridge

Saturday 9 September

League Two
AFC Wimbledon v Stockport County @3pm - the international break means that the highest level men's match taking place in London this weekend will be this one at Plough Lane. Last season saw the Dons fighting relegation whilst County made the play-offs. So far this season, it appears as if the tables have been turned with Wimbledon currently fifth and Stockport 20th. Last season both sides won their respective home fixtures 1-0 so there was little to choose between them and it'll probably still be close this time. Tickets

National League
Barnet v Altrincham @3pm - after a mini-wobble, the Bees got back on track with wins over Ebbsfleet and Boreham Wood to put them back on top of the table. Dean Brennan's team next welcome an Alty side who have only lost one of their seven games. The Manchester club have also become a bit of a bogey team in recent years and haven't lost at The Hive since their first visit in 2014
Bromley v Maidenhead United @3pm - after losing their first two, the Ravens are now unbeaten in five and starting to climb the table. Now up to 13th, they sit just a point behind the visitors who are unbeaten in four themselves. The Magpies have drawn on their last three visits and will fancy themselves to take at least a point
Wealdstone v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - after a positive start, three straight defeats have seen the Stones start to slide down the table. Newly promoted Ebbsfleet are one of only three teams who've yet to draw a game so while they've lost three, they've won four which has put them in the top five. Wealdstone usually run some kind of promotion during international breaks with this one being designated their first #HerGameToo fixture which means all U18 girls get in for free

National League South
Welling United v Bath City @3pm - at the time of writing, just before a round of midweek fixtures, Bath are top of the league after winning four on the bounce. They face a tricky trip to Truro City before this but whatever happens there, they should provide a stern test for Welling who are just above the relegation zone UPDATE - Bath drew at Truro so are now third

Isthmian League Premier
Wingate & Finchley v Hornchurch @3pm - other games in the seventh tier will almost certainly draw bigger crowds but in terms of form, this game looks like being the best. Featuring two of the top eight, this should be well worth a watch. As one of the smallest teams in the division who are often towards the wrong end of the table, it's not often I get to feature W&F so it's nice to be able to give them this mention. Currently eighth with only one defeat from five, the north London club are doing well. The Urchins, who finished second last season and are among the contenders again, will be a huge test of just how good they are 

FA Trophy First Round Qualifying
The FA Trophy gets underway this weekend. If you've never heard of it, it's a knockout competition for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers with its final at Wembley at the end of the season. At this stage the ties are regionalised. The winners of each tie receive £1,500 and the losers £400. There are numerous ties taking place around the capital, here are my pick:

Raynes Park Vale v Marlow @3pm - as far as I'm concerned, this is the tie of the round in London as it pits the Isthmian South Central leaders against the side in fifth. RPV won the Combined Counties League Premier South title last season and have continued where they left off following their promotion. The Blues, on the other hand, have won two of their three league games but are also still going strong in the FA Cup and have scored 17 goals in the six games they've played so far
Beckenham Town v Three Bridges @3pm - the Becks were heavily involved in the Isthmian South East title race last season, eventually finishing fourth. With only one win from four, they've yet to hit their stride this time. The visitors, on the other hand, are currently top of the South East division and beat Beckenham last month on their way there
Chipstead v Lancing @3pm - the Chips have made a very decent start and are nestled just behind Raynes Park in the Isthmian South Central. On paper, this makes them favourites against a Lancing side who are in the bottom six of the South East division
Hanworth Villa v Chertsey Town @3pm - the hosts were slow to get going last season but went on an amazing run in the closing months which saw them finish fourth and put them in the play-offs. Sadly, that's where the fun ended. Chertsey made the play-offs the previous season and looked like making it again but ultimately fell short. The Curfews are well supported and should take a good following on the short trip to Rectory Meadow

CCL Premier South
Tooting & Mitcham United v Guildford City @3pm - my MOTD across the whole ninth tier takes place at Imperial Fields. Fans of the Terrors who've spent most of their modern existence in the seventh and eighth tiers are still getting used to life at this level after experiencing an unexpected relegation last season. I have several friends who support them and overall it was looking like being a positive experience with three wins from their first four league games. However, many were left with their mouths wide open on Saturday after they blew a 3-0 lead at home to Alton who went on to win 4-3 with nine men! Hopefully it will prove to be an aberration and they'll move on. Despite that, they're still in the top six and welcome the current leaders who have a 100% record. Guildford is the biggest town in Surrey and should therefore have a team playing at a much higher level - neighbouring Woking play in the fifth tier for example - but that has never really been the case. Maybe this is the year that City make some progress

CCL Division 1
Westside v RB Kensington @3pm - there aren't any obvious humdingers in the 10th tier but this game between two of the top seven in this division should provide some decent entertainment. Both are scoring freely this season, with the visitors averaging exactly three goals a game after eight matches

Sunday 10 September

Women's friendly
West Ham United v Bristol City @3pm - the recent conclusion of the World Cup means the Super League isn't starting until October - way after all the other domestic leagues which are well underway. Consequently, top-flight teams don't have many sides to play friendlies against other than themselves. The Hammers were vying for 'The Best of the Rest Trophy' last season (a.k.a fifth place) but didn't have the squad to do it and finished in eighth a whopping 16 points behind Aston Villa who did finish there. City, on the other hand, pipped Birmingham City to the Championship title by a point to win promotion back to the WSL

FA Women's Championship
Crystal Palace v Durham @12pm - both these sides finished in midtable last season but after two games, they're locked on four points in third and second. After drawing against Reading, Palace are still looking for their first win at Gander Green Lane which is their new home for this season
Charlton Athletic v Watford @2pm - in the later game at The Valley, two of our local clubs will be going in search of their first win. The Addicks managed a top-four finish last season but have only recorded two draws so far. The Hornets suffered relegation to the third tier the year before last but bounced back at the first time of asking and will do very well to get three points here
London City Lionesses v Reading @2pm - a little further to the east at Princes Park, LCL will be looking to move into the top three, if not go top. The Royals suffered relegation from the WSL last season and have had to release a lot of players so 2023/24 is likely to be primarily about consolidating their place at this level

FAWNL Southern Premier
Hashtag United v Portsmouth @3pm - the Tags invested a lot to get out of the fourth tier and they've made an impressive start at the higher level. On Wednesday, they recorded an impressive 3-2 win over last season's runners-up Ipswich Town to maintain their 100% record. If they then get something against this very strong Pompey side, then they'll have to be considered as real contenders
London Bees v Billericay Town @2pm - sadly, the opposite is true at The Hive where London Bees have lost all three of their games and look set for another tough season. A friend went to their defeat against MK Dons on Wednesday and was struck not only by their poor performance but also the unsafe conditions that spectators were expected to watch the game in. To be clear, women's matches rarely make it into the main stadium and are stuck outside on one of the artificial pitches. The area around the one they used resembled a building site and complaints were set to be submitted. Billericay are sitting snugly in midtable and should start as favourites

FAWNL Division 1 South East
Actonians v Ashford Town (Middlesex) @2pm - there's only one game on locally in the fourth tier and it pits two west London clubs against each other. Ashford played their first season at this level last year after promotion and comfortably held their own. However, they played the A's three times in the league and FA Cup and lost all three - scoring three and conceding 13. It's unlikely to be so one sided this time as Ashford have recruited well over the summer and recorded a fantastic 2-0 win at big title favourites AFC Wimbledon on Wednesday which shook the foundations of the league. For their part, Actonians looked great against Cambridge City on Sunday and this could be quite a game

L&SE Women's League Premier
Fulham v Ebbsfleet United @230pm - the game of the day in the fifth tier is being played at the Cottagers' Motspur Park training ground and features the sides who finished third and second last season. Ebbsfleet have won their opening two and look set to challenge again whilst Fulham have managed four points from three

Women's FA Cup First Round Qualifying
This year's competition gets underway this weekend with all the lowest-ranked teams entering the draw. The final will be played at Wembley in May. The prize money that's on offer can sometimes make the difference between a club folding or carrying on so it's hugely important. I haven't been able to confirm the precise amount but the winners here should receive around £2,000. There are lots of ties on around London - here are my pick:

Brentford v Ruislip Rangers @3pm - despite being affiliated to a Premier League club, it often surprises people to know that the Bees' women's side play way down in the sixth tier. As an Actonians fan it's very frustrating to see them put out a few press releases or host a game at the GTech and see four-figure crowds attend when much better football is being played just up the road to much smaller attendances. Anyway, I digress. This Sunday they're hosting a club my daughter plays junior football against and whom I didn't even realise had a senior team good enough to enter the competition. The game is being played at Bedfont Sports and Brentford should win
Bromley v Sevenoaks Town @3pm - Hayes Lane, where this will be played, is probably the snazziest venue that you can watch a tie at on Sunday. The Ravens play a level above Sevenoaks so a home win looks most likely
Clapton CFC v St Margaretsbury @2pm - if Brentford don't put out a big call to fans, then the biggest crowd could well be found at the Old Spotted Dog (London's oldest ground) where the hosts should start as strong favourites against opposition from the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire League
Camden Town v Hastings United @2pm - the hosts are making their first appearance in this competition and they're likely to find it tough against a Hastings side who play a level above. This match is being played at Wingate & Finchley
Leyton Orient v Cheshunt @2pm - the O's used to be affiliated to the fourth-tier club now known as London Seaward but shockingly told them they could no longer use their name midway through the season in 2021. Instead they decided to form their own side which came in at level eight which they then came top in last season. Now a seventh-tier club, they are still minnows despite their name and they'll start as underdogs here

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. Hampton and Richmond Borough were due to install an artificial pitch during the summer. This didn't happen for whatever reason so the old grass pitch had to be made playable for this season. As this work started late the delay was the reason Hampton have had to play 7 away games at the start of their season.