Monday 4 December 2023

TLFG: 4-10 December 2023

Welcome to this week's edition of TLFG.

It seems my visit to QPR's new training ground and meeting new manager Marti Cifuentes made a huge impact as the side went on to win two games in three days.

On Tuesday they beat Stoke City 4-2 at Loftus Road and then they travelled north to Preston on Friday where they won 2-0.

Although still in the bottom three, confidence now appears to be high and the gap to safety is now down to four points.

This weekend they face a home game against a decent Hull City side who are chasing a play-off place so it will be interesting to see if the recovery continues.

Tickets for Palace v Bournemouth are on sale to non-members

The same night QPR beat Preston, thousands of fans were treated to a thrilling game at Wembley where England's women came from 2-0 down to beat the Netherlands 3-2.

Sadly it doesn't look like being enough to qualify for the Olympics but there's still an outside chance.

My other two clubs, Harrow Borough and Actonians, had their matches postponed or abandoned so I had a pretty quiet weekend.

As it turns out, my whole week was pretty quiet - norovirus ripped through all the inhabitants of TLFG Towers so I didn't actually get into work until Friday.

It was great to hear from long-time reader Christoph B from Freiburg in Germany. He's coming with some friends to watch his beloved Breisgau-Brasilianer play West Ham in the Europa League next week.

They're going to be here for several days and will watch several games, including QPR, and do some tours one of which I'm planning to go on - more on that soon.

As for this week, hopefully I'll get to a game at some point as I have some days off but we'll see.

Lastly, many thanks this week to Kelvin W from Ealing for his kind donation to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund - he's been reading and supporting this blog for many years, something I'm hugely appreciative of.


This week we've got matches in the Premier League, EFL, National League, FA Trophy, Women's Super League and Women's FA Cup as well as all the other non-league and women's competitions which our local clubs compete in.

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 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 December

FA Cup Second Round
AFC Wimbledon v Ramsgate @745pm - delayed from the weekend for live TV coverage, the final tie of the round takes place at Plough Lane. The Dons famously upset the mighty Liverpool to win the trophy in 1988 in what I often cite as being my favourite ever final. A hell of a lot has happened in the intervening 35 years but to suffice to say, the south London club aren't the force they once were. Now in League Two, they should still start as strong favourites against an Isthmian League side who play four levels below them. Tickets

Professional Development League
QPR v Charlton Athletic @7pm - on the west side of town, this U21 match at Hanwell Town should provide a decent value night out. The R's are a point ahead of Bournemouth at the top of the table and should beat an Addicks side who are 15 points behind in eighth

National League South
Aveley v Welling United @745pm - the Millers were flying and applying genuine pressure to leaders Yeovil in what looked like becoming a title race. However, they've now gone five without a win and are down to fourth. The gap between themselves and top spot is now eight points so it's not insurmountable but they'll have to start winning soon. The Wings, on the other hand, are in the relegation zone. With seven points from five games, their form is currently better than any of the other strugglers so they might just get something here


Tuesday 5 December

FA Youth Cup Third Round
Brentford v Tottenham Hotspur @7pm - the Third Round, when all the big clubs' academy sides enter the draw, gets underway this week. Although both these clubs are in the Premier League, their U18 sides play at wildly different levels. Whilst Spurs are currently top the U18 Premier League South, the Bees play in a regional group of the EFL Youth Alliance League, which is something like the third tier, and they're not doing too well either. On paper this looks like a comfortable away win. Interestingly for groundhoppers, this is being played at Brentford's new facility in Staines so if you haven't been already, now's your chance. Previous games here have required you to buy tickets in advance so I presume it will be the case for this one too - do not turn up without one!
Millwall v Barking @7pm - the Blues' youngsters have produced the story of the competition so far. Entering in the Preliminary Round, they've beaten Great Wakering Rovers, Billericay Town, Dagenham & Redbridge, Stanway Rovers, Kingstonian and MK Dons and now find themselves competing against the biggest clubs in the land. Representing a ninth-tier club, they are the lowest-ranked side left in the draw. Although it's not Old Trafford or the Emirates, a trip to the The Den is still a fantastic opportunity and who knows what could happen? Tickets

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Braintree Town @745pm - with Aveley faltering, the Beavers have taken full advantage. Now unbeaten in 10 games, winning nine of those, the south-west London club are up to second and catching leaders Yeovil. Essex club Braintree slipped out of the play-off places on Saturday after seeing their match against Weymouth get frozen off 


Wednesday 6 December

Premier League
Crystal Palace v AFC Bournemouth @730pm - Roy Hodgson's side managed a 1-1 draw at West Ham on Sunday but that means they've now won only one of their last six. Still well clear of the relegation zone, they face a side below them who are in much better form after a ropey start. The Cherries have taken 10 points from their last five games and were robbed of a win over Aston Villa by a last-minute equaliser on Sunday. Palace are unbeaten in six against Bournemouth but that run could come to an end here. It's highly unusual for tickets for Premier League games at Selhurst Park to go on sale to non-members but this one has so don't miss out
Fulham v Nottingham Forest @730pm - with three minutes to go of Sunday's game, the Cottagers led 3-2 against Liverpool at Anfield. Sadly, a late collapse saw them lose 4-3 to leave them 14th in the table. Forest lost 1-0 at home to Everton to remain just behind Fulham in the table. To me, this has draw written all over it. Tickets do appear to be available to non-members 

Premier League International Cup
Crystal Palace v Benfica @7pm - the Eagles made it to the final of this U21 competition last season. As it stands, the south London club are in a qualifying position for the next round whilst Benfica have a bit of catching up to do after drawing their opening game at Liverpool 1-1. This match is being played at Sutton United. Tickets

Essex Senior League
Woodford Town v Barking @745pm - with only one win from their last five games in all competitions, the hosts' great early-season form seems to have left them. Still third and with a game in hand on the leaders, all is not lost but an uplift in results is required. The Blues are coasting along nicely enough in midtable with a play-off push probably now the aim


Thursday 7 December

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United @815pm - Spurs came from behind to snatch a point after a thrilling 3-3 draw at Manchester City on Sunday. The result left them in fifth and allowed arch rivals Arsenal to open a three-point lead at the top. The Hammers drew 1-1 with Palace to stay in the top half but they'll have to do a lot better to get anything out of this one. Spurs are unbeaten in five at home against West Ham. Tickets are not available to non-members but hospitality packages are available from £399


Friday 8 December

Premier League Cup
Fulham v Brentford @7pm - there's a west London derby to be enjoyed at Motspur Park on Friday night. The Cottagers are currently third in the PL2 South which should indicate that they're one of the best sides in the country at this level. How good the Bees are is hard to gauge as they don't play in a league. However, last season, they won this competition and beat Fulham 2-1 in the semi-finals at this venue so they must know what they're doing! Admission is usually around £3 on the gate

FA Youth Cup Third Round
West Ham United v Southampton @7pm - the Hammers thrashed Arsenal 5-1 at the Emirates in last year's final in front of nearly 35,000 fans. They begin the defence of their title at home to the Saints who they also trounced 6-1 in the semi-final at London Stadium. As you can obviously see, West Ham's youngsters are really good and they look to have another good crop on their hands this year too. This is being played the club's Rush Green training facility and you can usually pay on the gate 

ECL Division 1 South
Cannons Wood v Clapton CFC @745pm - the non-league match of the night would appear to be this 10th-tier game between two of the title contenders. I think I'm right in saying that both sides have occupied top spot at some point this season. It's actually quite hard to decide who the best team is at the moment as some in the top six have played 24 games and others only 19. This match is being played at Aveley

Saturday 9 December

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Liverpool @1230pm - the only Premier League game in London on Saturday takes place at Selhurst Park. Roy Hodgson's side are on a bit of a sticky run at the moment, with the midweek defeat to Bournemouth extending their winless run to four games. By contrast, the Reds are motoring along with only one defeat from their last 13 games in all competitions. Up to second in the league and only two points behind Arsenal, they will go top for at least a few hours if they win here. Tickets are not available to non-members

QPR v Hull City @3pm - after back-to-back wins under new manager Marti Cifuentes, the R's are a totally different prospect to the one of a few weeks ago. Still in the bottom three, they have plenty to do but they now look a much tougher side to play against. Hull have had a good season under another bright young coach. Former Fulham and Brighton player Liam Rosenior has done a great job since taking over a year ago and they're currently in the top six. This could be quite a decent game. Tickets
Watford v Southampton @3pm - with 10 points from their last five games, the Hornets are enjoying a bit of a recovery. Winning 2-1 at Hull in their last match, Valerian Ismael's side are up to 10th and could move level with the Tigers if results go their way on Saturday. The Saints came down from the Premier League last season and struggled to begin with. However, they've now found their feet, are in the top four and are joint top of the form table with Leeds. If you can't get a ticket for Palace, then it appears you have a couple of very good Championship alternatives. Tickets

League One
Charlton Athletic v Cambridge United @3pm - despite going four games without defeat, the Addicks are still stuck in the midtable doldrums - 10 points clear of the relegation zone but still seven points adrift of the play-off places. With a place in the top six their clear aim, they need to be winning this game against a Cambridge side who are out of form and too close to the bottom four for comfort. Tickets
Leyton Orient v Derby County @3pm - with only four points from their last six games, the O's have hit a bad patch. Down in 16th, they could really do with a win soon. Sadly, it looks unlikely to come here as Derby have won five of their last six games and are in the play-off places. Interestingly, this will be the first match between the sides since 1985 when they fought out a 2-2 draw at Brisbane Road in a league game. Tickets

League Two
AFC Wimbledon v Swindon Town @3pm - following their 5-0 demolition of non-league Ramsgate in the FA Cup on Monday, the Dons return to league action on Saturday. Sitting 10th in the fourth tier, they're well placed for a play-off push but so are Swindon who are just two points above them. Beating the Wiltshire club would be a real statement of intent and put them firmly among the contenders. Tickets
Sutton United v Harrogate Town @3pm - unbeaten in five games, the U's have tightened things up a lot. However, they're drawing games not winning them and as a result they're still bottom. However, they are still only four points adrift so it's not a lost cause by any means. Harrogate are cruising along in midtable and look likely to stay there. Tickets

FA Trophy Third Round
This competition for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers, with its final at Wembley, is down to its last 64 teams. At this stage, all the clubs in the fifth tier enter the draw. There are several ties in London, here are my picks:

Barnet v Maidstone United @3pm - the Bees are on a poor run of four consecutive defeats which has put a huge dent in their title challenge. Now third in the table and 11 points behind the leaders, hanging on to a play-off place would now seem to be the priority. Last season Barnet made the play-offs and the semi-finals of the Trophy but ended up with nothing - they'll be hoping that doesn't happen again. Maidstone made the headlines last weekend by beating Barrow to make it to the FA Cup Third Round where they'll host Port Vale or Stevenage. The Kent club play in the division below Barnet but they're second and could make things difficult for the north London side
Hendon v Weymouth @3pm - a short distance to the south of The Hive, the Greens are also in action in the Trophy. A seventh-tier side, they've done well to get this far, picking up the scalps of AFC Sudbury, Walton & Hersham and Eastbourne Borough. The latter play at the same level as Weymouth so Lee Allinson's side have every chance of causing another upset
Welling United v Brackley Town @3pm - the Wings are in the sixth tier's bottom four but they're in reasonable form. On Saturday they welcome a side from the parallel NLN who won the Trophy in 2018. Up in fourth in their division, they will start as favourites at Park View Road

National League South
Dartford v Yeovil Town @3pm - not a million miles from Welling, the Darts are preparing for possibly their biggest game of the season as former Championship club Yeovil come to town. The Somerset outfit have had a spectacularly bad decade and find themselves back in the sixth tier for what I believe is the first time since 1997. Despite this dramatic fall, they're giving this season a really good go and are six points clear at the top with a game in hand

Southern League Premier South
Walton & Hersham v Salisbury @3pm - the Swans have been among the frontrunners in the seventh tier all season but a sudden dip in form has seen them lose four in a row. This has seen them slip to eighth but they do have two or three games in hand on most of those above them. Salisbury are only being kept off the top by goal difference and they have a game in hand on leaders Chesham so this could be quite a battle

Isthmian League South Central
Hanworth Villa v Marlow @3pm - the hosts made the play-offs after fantastic winning run towards the end of the season. They're going to need to something similar this time as although they're seventh, the leading back are already breaking away. Seven points adrift of the play-offs, they badly need to beat Marlow who are fourth but have the games in hand to be top

CCL Premier North
Rayners Lane v Milton United @3pm - in the ninth tier, it's first versus third at Tithe Farm. Once again it's worth remembering that Rayners Lane had a chaotic summer following their promotion and everything looked like it would fall apart. However, the new management team pulled things together and with, I believe, an increased budget have recruited a decent squad. Currently top, but only on goal difference, they can't afford many slip ups if they want to stay in the title race

CCL Division 1
Langley v Yateley United @3pm - two of the top five meet at Honeycroft which is Langley's new home for this season. The Merry Makers finished fifth last season and they look quite capable of at least matching that this year. Yateley are currently fifth but have games in hand on all of those above them

FA Youth Cup Third Round
Arsenal v Crewe Alexandra @530pm - if youth football's more your thing then the Gunners, last season's beaten finalists, entertain Crewe at Boreham Wood's ground. The late kick-off means you should be able to combine it with the game between London Lions and Tring Athletic which takes place at nearby Rowley Lane

Sunday 10 December

Premier League
Fulham v West Ham United @2pm - the day's top-flight action gets underway at Craven Cottage. Marco Silva's side pulled off an unexpected 5-0 drubbing of Nottingham Forest on Wednesday to really boost spirits. Next up they face a crosstown derby against the Hammers who extended their unbeaten run to six games with a fine 2-1 win at Spurs on Thursday. Talking of six games, that's how long their unbeaten run is against Fulham too. I'm fairly confident they'll be able to make it seven here. Tickets are only available to those with a previous Fulham booking history
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United @430pm - both these sides suffered disappointing nights on Thursday - Spurs lost the aforementioned game to West Ham while the Magpies came unstuck at Everton. Ange Postecoglu's side were top not that long ago but recent results mean they're now in worse form than bottom club Sheffield United and surely out of the title race. Newcastle were looking like a good bet for a top-four finish but two defeats in their last four have made those predictions look a bit shaky. Eddie Howe's team did the double over Tottenham last season, scoring eight goals in the process, but I think a draw looks more likely this time. Tickets are only available to members whilst hospitality packages are available from £299

Women's Super League
Arsenal v Chelsea @1230pm - there's also a massive game at the Emirates where the top two in the WSL meet for a game that could go a long way to deciding who wins the title. The Blues are the reigning champions and currently top, three points ahead of the Gunners. With every point absolutely crucial in this division, a loss for Arsenal would leave them with an almost insurmountable six-point deficit to make up. Almost 60,000 tickets have already been sold so don't delay if you want to snaffle one of the last ones
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United @645pm - although there's also a WSL game at West Ham at 2pm, the late kick-off here means you can combine it with pretty much any other game taking place on Sunday (except the men's game at Spurs - oh the irony). Being played at Leyton Orient, a much improved Tottenham side could break into the top five with a win. Tickets

Women's FA Cup Third Round
Unlike the men's competition, only second-tier clubs join the draw in this round. There are two ties in London, with the winners of each one receiving £35,000 and the losers £9,000 - a significant sum for many clubs at this level

Crystal Palace v Chatham Town @1pm - the Eagles are fourth in the Championship but they'll go top if they win their game in hand. Therefore, they are without question one of the strongest teams in the Third Round. Chatham are struggling at the level below them so will start as underdogs. This match is being played at Sutton United. Tickets
London City Lionesses v Billericay Town @1pm - it's a similar tale at Princes Park where a second tier club hosts one from the third. The gulf between the two is probably not as big as for the match above but LCL should still be expected to go through. Tickets

Isthmian League Premier
Cray Wanderers v Haringey Borough @3pm - if you'd prefer a men's non-league game then head to Bromley where London's oldest club take on bottom side Haringey in a relegation six-pointer. At the time of writing on Thursday, Cray sit just above the relegation zone on goal difference so a win would take a bit of pressure off

FA Vase Third Round
Hilltop v Hamble Club @3pm - after seeing this tie postponed last weekend, these clubs will try again on Sunday. These two midtable teams from parallel ninth-tier divisions should put on a competitive display. Whatever the weather this weekend, this should go ahead as it's been moved to Bedfont Sports who have a 3G pitch

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, via X/Twitter or even by good old email.

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