Sunday 25 February 2024

TLFG: 26 February - 3 March 2024

Greetings and welcome to the Leap Year edition of TLFG.

Yes, the quadrennial occurrence that is 29 February takes place on Thursday.

And does it bring us anything special I hear you ask? 

Well, not really - unless you're into youth and development football in which case there's a few things going on.

After having last week off and getting to see a few games, this week has seen me at work every day and I'm here right now at Waterloo station writing this.

This year's Non-League Day is now less than a month away

The most interesting work-related thing I did was get trained on the new trains which South Western Railway are bringing in and which have caused quite a bit of controversy over the last few years.

I won't go into that here as I'll probably say something inappropriate and get sacked but it was an eye-opening day and my current role will change considerably.

Anyway, enough of the railway chat.

How has your football week been? 

With all the work, I saw nothing live but Non-League Day preparations have continued - it's now less than a month away!

There's still plenty to do and hopefully some big announcements to make but things seem to be shaping up well.

The celebrations of our 10-year partnership with Prostate Cancer UK officially launched on Friday and we're really hoping we can add to the £250,000 we've raised over that time.

Our merchandise is now back online with all the classic designs and some new ones - we've got t-shirts, hoodies and badges so please take a look and see if there's anything you fancy.

One other thing I did this week was buy tickets for my first ever Women's Super League game - yes, you read that right.

Despite going on and on about women's football on here and having been to England matches, European Championship, FA Cup and League Cup Finals, I've never seen a top-flight game.

Arsenal play Spurs in the WSL at the Emirates on Sunday 

With Actonians having a break this weekend, I've taken the plunge and bought some tickets for the North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners sold out when they played Manchester United there in their last game earlier this month and I seem to have got some of the few remaining ones for this.

In a sign of the times, I'm going on a lads' trip to the game without any women or children joining me.

My eldest daughter, who is otherwise engaged, is an Arsenal fan and isn't overly impressed that I'm going without her as she's never been to the stadium.

At £15 a ticket, I wasn't going to pass up the chance to sit on the Clock End and enjoy one of the biggest games of the year.

PS - if you read the blog last week, the mystery WSL manager who's volunteered to help out with some junior coaching at Actonians will be involved in this match. 

I've also got a couple of days off during the week so I'm hoping I'll be able to use the impending Non-League Day as an excuse to get to a game or two.

Before I sign off, it would be remiss of me as a QPR fan not to mention the passing of arguably the club's greatest ever player Stan Bowles.

A legend of '70s football in England, the maverick attacking player thrilled the Loftus Road crowd for seven years and was part of the team that fell just a point short of winning the league title during that time - something that seems unthinkable now.

Although I did exist during most of those years, I never saw him play so I've always experienced a bit of a detachment compared to some of my slightly older friends who utterly revere him.

Sadly Alzheimer's caught up with him on Saturday, just after the R's had won their huge game against Rotherham.

He was 75.

Lastly this week, many thanks to Ge W from Deptford for donating to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund - it's really appreciated.

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week we've got matches in the Premier League, FA Cup, EFL, National League and Women's Super League 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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple 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.

Monday 26 February

Premier League
West Ham United v Brentford @8pm - the Hammers ended 2023 with back-to-back wins over Manchester United and Arsenal but they haven't won in any competition since and fans are calling for manager David Moyes to go. The last three games have seen them score none and concede 11 - it's looking pretty grim. Next up they face a tricky derby against the Bees who have won all five of the league games they've played against the east London club since joining the top flight in 2021. Tickets

Premier League International Cup Quarter-Final
Crystal Palace v Wolverhampton Wanderers @7pm - the Eagles made it to the final of this U21 competition last season and they're well on course to do it again. They lost to PSV Eindhoven in that final and the Dutch side have already made it through to the last four this year, beating Chelsea in the process. Wolves finished top of Group A ahead of PSV so they clearly mean business. This match is being played at Sutton United. Tickets will be available on the gate

Premier League Cup
Chelsea v Norwich City @7pm - they might be out of the competition above but the Blues are still in contention for this other U21 trophy. Having come top of their group ahead of Leeds, Colchester and Luton, they're now into the knockout stage. The Canaries were runners-up in their group and finished ahead of Wolves and Charlton. This is being played at Kingsmeadow and tickets will be available on the gate

ECL Division 1 South
Barkingside v May & Baker @745pm - the only non-league option I'm aware of is this match in Ilford between two east London clubs. Both are out of promotion contention in midtable but could do with a win or two to get well clear of the relegation zone. Tickets will be available on the gate
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Tuesday 27 February

Professional Development League
Millwall v Ipswich Town @2pm - get your day of football watching underway with a lunchtime trip to The Den for this U21 game. The Lions won the PDL last season, beating Sheffield United in the final. Currently just a point behind leaders QPR but with a game in hand, they're very well placed to top Group South again. Ipswich are fifth so should be no pushovers. Tickets

League One
Leyton Orient v Blackpool @745pm - the O's closed the gap on the play-off places to six points with a hugely important 2-1 win at Oxford United on Saturday. Next up they face another crucial game against the side just above them in the table. If they beat the Seasiders, then they'll have to be classed as promotion contenders. Tickets

National League
Barnet v Chesterfield @745pm - the big games seem to be coming thick and fast in the fifth tier right now. Last week, Bromley were second when they took on leaders Chesterfield. Since then, they've been replaced by the Bees so this has become a top-of-the-table clash. The Spireites dropped some more points on Saturday with their draw against Rochdale but their lead is still a massive 20 points. Barnet's record against the visitors is also poor - they lost 4-2 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season and have only won two of their last 10 games against them. Tickets

National League South
Welling United v Truro City @745pm - there are three games in the sixth tier on Tuesday but I'm going for this one as my pick of the night. The Wings remain unbeaten since new boss Rod Stringer took over with their draw against promotion-chasing St Albans leaving them just one point adrift of safety. Cornish club Truro are two points above them so if the London club win, they will finally break free of the relegation zone. Tickets

Middlesex Senior Cup Semi-Final
Hendon v Hayes & Yeading United @745pm - these two local rivals meet at Silver Jubilee Park for a place in the county cup final. Both play in the seventh tier Southern League Premier South and are in midtable so it should be close. Interestingly, the hosts are the most successful club in the competition's long history, winning it 15 times since it began in 1888. H&YU, on the other hand, are the reigning champions. Rayners Lane await the winners in the final. Tickets will be available on the gate

Essex Senior Cup Semi-Final
Redbridge v Maldon & Tiptree @745pm - two clubs from the eighth tier Isthmian League North contest the other county cup semi-final of the night. Neither side have won this title before and on this season's performance, you'd expect the visitors to progress. Whoever makes it through will play Colchester United in the final. Tickets will be available on the gate

SCEFL Challenge Cup Semi-Final Second Legs
Erith Town v Deal Town @745pm - sitting just outside the play-off places with a couple of games in hand, the Dockers are well placed for a promotion tilt. One of their main rivals for promotion are Deal who are in great form. The Kent seaside club are having a season to remember. Not only are they in the semi-finals of this competition with a 2-1 lead from the first leg, they're also in the quarter-finals of the FA Vase and have eight games in hand on the leaders which if won would put them 13 points clear at the top. Tickets will be available on the gate
AFC Whyteleafe v Corinthian @745pm - in the other tie, First Division leaders Whyteleafe entertain another one of the league's top clubs. Their chances of progressing look slim though as they lost the first leg 3-0. Tickets will be available on the gate
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Wednesday 28 February

FA Cup Fifth Round
Chelsea v Leeds United @730pm - after suffering the disappointment of an extra-time defeat to Liverpool in the EFL Cup Final on Sunday, the Blues have to quickly pick themselves up for this. The FA Cup now represents their only chance of winning some silverware and salvaging their otherwise poor season. In recent years, you'd expect the Stamford Bridge club to get through a tie like this but Leeds are in fantastic form as they push hard for the Championship title and could well cause an upset. Tickets are only available to members

Isthmian League Premier
Kingstonian v Cheshunt @745pm - the top non-league match of the night is this relegation six-pointer in the seventh tier. The bottom four go down in this division and both are in the bottom four. The visitors are only two points from safety whilst the K's are propping everyone else up and really can't afford to lose many more games. Tickets will be available on the gate

Essex Senior League
Sporting Bengal United v Athletic Newham @745pm - in the ninth tier, two of the division's top six meet at Mile End Stadium which is one of the capital's most centrally located grounds. The teams in second to fifth make the play-offs so there's plenty to play for. Tickets will be available on the gate
Woodford Town v Buckhurst Hill @745pm - we've also got the Roding Valley Derby to look forward to on Wednesday. This is quite a new rivalry but it still generates quite a bit of interest and should draw a decent crowd. The hosts are second and will start as favourites. Tickets will be available on the gate for £7. UPDATE - the club have now decided to make it free entry for everyone so don't miss out!
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Thursday 29 February

Youth & Development matches
It's a leap year but nothing particularly special is happening today. The two highest level matches are a couple of U23 games in the Suburban League at Abbey Rangers and Molesey. At U18 level, the Middlesex Youth Cup Semi-Final between Northwood and Bedfont Sports tops the bill

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Friday 1 March

Premier League 2
Chelsea v Arsenal @7pm - there are a trio of games in this U21 competition on Friday but this one clearly stands out. Currently fourth and third respectively, it should be a great game. FYI - Tottenham and West Ham are the top two with Spurs seven points ahead of the third-place Gunners. Tickets will be available on the gate

Essex Senior League
Woodford Town v Frenford @745pm - there are also some non-league games too with our friends at Ashtons swiftly back in action after their Wednesday night derby. With the visitors in the bottom five, the smart money would appear to be on a home win. Tickets will be available on the gate

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Saturday 2 March

Premier League
Brentford v Chelsea @3pm - since joining the top flight in 2021, the Bees have made a habit of humiliating the Blues in derbies between the two. The smaller club have won all three of their away games at Stamford Bridge including the one earlier this season. A lot has been made of Chelsea's poor from this season but it's currently significantly better than Brentford's so they should still start as favourites here. Tickets are not available
Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - the Cottagers recorded their first win at Old Trafford since 2003 last weekend, a result which should go a long way towards securing a comfortable midtable finish - a fine achievement for a club more used to yo-yoing between the top two divisions. Here they face a tricky Brighton side who haven't dazzled quite as much as last season but are still in the top seven. Talking of seven, that's how long Fulham's unbeaten record is against the Seagulls with their last loss to them coming in 2017. Tickets are only available to members
Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace @3pm - there's another derby at the THS too. When Spurs opened their new ground five years ago, they played the Eagles in the first competitive match and won 2-0. Since then they've won all four of the following games between them at the venue and most of the matches at Selhurst Park too. New Palace boss Oliver Glasner won his first match in charge against Burnley last week so he'll be looking for another positive performance here. Tickets are only available to members

Championship
Millwall v Watford @3pm - the Lions appeared to be sinking like stones prior to last week's incredibly tough looking trip Southampton. However, they pulled off a fine 2-1 win to keep themselves out of the bottom three. Next up they face a derby of sorts against the Hornets. The Hertfordshire club are in the top half but have lost four of their last five games so there's definitely the potential for some more points here. Tickets

League One
Leyton Orient v Bristol Rovers @3pm - whether the O's make it into the play-offs or not, Richie Wellens' side have given their fans some special moments this season. With wins over leaders Portsmouth and promotion contenders Bolton and draws against several of the other leading clubs, they've more than proved themselves in this division following promotion. Over the last week they've enjoyed back-to-back wins over Oxford and Blackpool who were both above them. Now they find themselves in eighth, five points adrift of the play-off places and another promotion is starting to appear feasible. Rovers are eight points behind them in midtable and it ended 1-1 in the reverse fixture. Tickets

League Two
AFC Wimbledon v MK Dons @1230pm - one of the games of the day in London is this huge grudge match at Plough Lane. I won't go into the full history of the rivalry, as most of you know it, but the visitors came into being after Wimbledon's highly controversial move to Milton Keynes. This was driven by Pete Winkelman who is still MK Dons' chairman to this day. The League Two table is tight so even though a four game winless run has seen the hosts slip to 13th, they're still only four points shy of a play-off place. The visitors are fifth and are still very much in the hunt for automatic promotion. They are also unbeaten in nine against AFC Wimbledon, so if the hosts do win the celebrations could be notable. Tickets are only available to members

National League
Boreham Wood v Gateshead @3pm - the Wood's fine run to the play-offs last season and has felt like a distant dream for much of this campaign. Hovering around the lower reaches of the table for most of it, they've enjoyed an uplift in form recently with three wins from five pushing them up to 14th. However, one of the most notable things about this division is how congested the bottom half is with the club in 11th only six points clear of the relegation zone. The pressure on clubs is massive with a couple of bad results potentially landing them in real trouble. Gateshead, on the other hand, are fifth and are having a good year. Although the race to go up isn't quite as tight, clubs like Halifax are starting to emerge from the chasing pack and could break into the play-off places very soon. Tickets
Bromley v FC Halifax Town @3pm - with the Ravens in second and the Shaymen on a great run, this is my pick of the action in the fifth tier in London on Saturday. The hosts went back up to second in midweek, despite not playing, because Barnet used up their game in hand with defeat to leaders Chesterfield which made their goal difference worse than Bromley's. As mentioned above, last season's FA Trophy winners Halifax are on the verge of breaking into the play-off places after winning four on the bounce. They also beat Bromley 2-0 back in August when they met at The Shay so this should be some game. Tickets
Dagenham & Redbridge v Altrincham @3pm - the Daggers are a point behind Boreham Wood in 15th so could really do with a win or two to relieve their own relegation fears. Altrincham were right up in the top four earlier in the season but four straight defeats have seen them slip to ninth. The hosts are capable of beating pretty much anyone in this division on their day and I've got a feeling they could do well here. Tickets

More previews for 2-3 March to follow


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!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below, via X/Twitter or even by good old email.

Has this blog been helpful? Donate to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund here 

Sunday 18 February 2024

TLFG: 19-25 February 2024

You join me at the end of a weekend which has left me in a very good mood indeed.

As regular readers know I have an interest in three teams - QPR in men's pro football, Harrow Borough in non-league and Actonians in women's football.

I'm pleased to report that all had important games and all of them won!

QPR are fighting relegation from the Championship and won 1-0 at Bristol City to leave them just one point adrift of safety.

Harrow Borough were 12 points adrift of safety the last time I looked but Saturday's 3-1 win at fellow strugglers Swindon Supermarine cut the gap to six points.

Lastly, Actonians were up against west London rivals Fulham who had knocked them out of the FA Cup on penalties in October.

Once again this was a cup tie, this time a quarter-final of the Capital Senior Cup.

Young defender Olivia Clement (left) has really impressed for Actonians this season

A good crowd were treated to a pretty even and open game with good chances falling to both teams throughout the game but thankfully it was the A's who were far more clinical.

Teenage striker Tori St Clair scored twice and captain Roschelle Shakes also chipped in as they won 3-1.

A shout of recognition should also go out to Olivia Clement, Mara Bramwell and Isi Meade who played as a defensive three and soaked up most of what came their way.

Sadly for Fulham's goalkeeper, the third was a bit of a shocker from her point of view.

Whether she completely misjudged it or wasn't expecting it, it was incredibly soft and you can see it here on TLFG's rarely used YouTube page.

It takes them into the semis were they'll meet either AFC Wimbledon, Haringey Borough or Ashford Town/London Seaward whose tie was postponed.

Also from Actonians HQ was the exciting news that the manager of a Women's Super League club has volunteered to join the coaching staff at junior level as their daughter has joined one of the sides.

I don't know how secret that information is so I'm not going to name them but we're all hoping it might also help the club get some decent players in on loan in the time ahead.

It was also great to meet a couple of TLFG readers at the game - Liam who I used to regularly run with before he broke his ankle was there in a Fulham-fan capacity. Also Martin B (apologies if I've got that wrong) who'd travelled all the way up from Dorset - it was a real pleasure to meet you and thanks a lot for coming.

Aside from going to Actonians, I also made it to Hanwell Town earlier in the week to see the U21 game between QPR and Watford.

It was a very competitive game which was played at a high tempo.

Despite having the better of things and seeing one of the opposition sent off early in the second half, the R's somehow lost 1-0.

Well I think that's about it from me. I'm back to work on Tuesday after over a week off and am going onto late shifts so I don't think there's going to be any live football for me.

Check back at the end of the week for my weekend previews, hopefully I'll have something up by Thursday or Friday at the latest.

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week we've got the EFL Cup Final and matches in the Premier League, EFL, National League, FA Trophy, Women's National League and Premier League International 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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple 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.

Monday 19 February

National League South
Aveley v Maidstone United @745pm - the Millers picked up an important win over Hampton & Richmond on Saturday to stay in play-off contention. Another side in the leading group are fourth placed Maidstone. The Kent club have generated plenty of headlines this season for their sensational run in the FA Cup which will see them play Coventry City in the Fifth Round next week. When the clubs last played in September, it was Aveley who won 1-0 at the Gallagher Stadium. Tickets
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Tuesday 20 February

League Two
AFC Wimbledon v Crawley Town @745pm - the Dons drew with promotion rivals Morecambe on Saturday to move up to eighth, just one point outside the play-off places. Competition for a spot in the top seven is fierce with only two points separating the clubs in seventh to fourteenth. In fifteenth, Crawley represent the best of the rest so can't be taken lightly. With the opposition located close to Gatwick airport to the south of London, there's also a bit of a derby feel to this one too. Tickets

National League
Bromley v Dagenham & Redbridge @745pm - the Ravens kept their very slender title hopes alive with a sensational 4-3 win over leaders Chesterfield on Saturday. Trailing with four minutes to go, they somehow turned it round and now find themselves just 20 points behind the Spireites in second with 13 games to go. With only one defeat in five, the Daggers have hauled themselves into the top half. However, they're still only six points clear of the relegation zone in what is an incredibly congested lower half of the table. Tickets

FA Trophy Fifth Round
Wealdstone v Hendon @745pm - with this tie postponed twice, these two local rivals will give it another go on Tuesday. As members of the National League, the Stones play two levels above the Greens and will be big favourites to win. However, the north-west London club caused one of the upsets of the competition so far by beating Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park in the last round and defeated sides from higher divisions in the two rounds before that. The club who play within sight of the Wembley arch, should travel to Grosvenor Vale with little to fear. It should be noted that a pitch inspection will be held on Monday and if it looks doubtful, the tie will be switched to Hendon's ground instead so check with the clubs for the latest information. UPDATE - this has been moved to Hendon Tickets
Bishop's Stortford v Coalville Town @745pm - poor pitch conditions mean this tie from outside our normal catchment area has been moved to Aveley's ground. Stortford, who are located close to London's Stansted airport, had the misfortune of being allocated a place in the National League North after winning the Isthmian League last season. This means they face journeys to clubs near Newcastle, Liverpool and even have to go west to Gloucester too which is costing them thousands. This has seen their really successful squad fall apart and they're bottom of the division as a result. However, they've had a great run in this competition and could make it to the quarter-finals as Coalville play a level below them. A trip to Macclesfield awaits the winners. Tickets will be available on the gate 

National League South
Welling United v Worthing @745pm - the Wings remain in the relegation zone but are building an unbeaten run under new boss Rod Stringer which is giving them hope. Four points behind Taunton Town, 20th is now within their grasp. The visitors, on the other hand, have won four in a row to climb to second. Still 10 points behind leaders Yeovil, they've got a five-point advantage over third placed Chelmsford. When the sides met in Sussex in September, Worthing won 2-0. Tickets

Premier League Cup
Fulham v Middlesbrough @7pm - if you're looking for an option on the south-west side of town, then this U21 match is probably your best bet. Having topped Group G ahead of Leicester, Brentford and Burnley, the Cottagers have got Boro in the last 16. The visitors made it out of their group as runners-up at the expense of Ipswich and Birmingham. This is being played the club's training ground in Motspur Park and you can usually pay on the gate

Southern League Premier South
Hanwell Town v Plymouth Parkway @745pm - the Geordies looked to have pulled away from the relegation zone but following Saturday's draw at Winchester, they find themselves only three points above the bottom four. The visitors, who have to travel all the way up from Devon, are a couple of places below them but have a whopping six games in hand - a big game for both. Tickets

Middlesex Premier Cup Semi-Final
Brook House v British Airways @745pm - two CCL Division 1 clubs from broadly the same part of west London meet at Farm Park in this important cup match. With BA in the top four and having one of their best seasons, they should start as favourites. Tickets will be available on the gate
Middlesex Premier Cup Semi-Final
RB Kensington v Kensington Dragons @745pm - it's derby day in one of London's poshest boroughs. Sadly though, neither actually play their home games within the hallowed postcodes of the area which is home to a royal palace. RBK are spending this season groundsharing with North Greenford United which is a far more normal place out in the western suburbs. It is they who should be expected to progress as they play a level above their 11th-tier opponents. Tickets will be available on the gate. UPDATE - at the time of writing there is confusion about whether this game is on Tuesday or Wednesday with RBK and the host ground saying different things
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Wednesday 21 February

FA Youth Cup Quarter-Final
Millwall v Chelsea @7pm - the Lions' youngsters have made it to the quarter-finals of the country's most prestigious U18 competition. Having beaten Barking, Grimsby and Coventry, it's fair to say they've had a pretty good draw. The Blues, who have won it nine times, have had to do things the hard way defeating Leicester, Everton and Crystal Palace on their way to the last eight. The match is being played at The Den and tickets are £5

Isthmian League Premier
Cray Wanderers v Canvey Island @745pm - both sides look to have done enough to avoid the drop so it's now all about playing for pride and positions. The visitors are two points and two places above Cray who are London's oldest club and always worth a watch just for that. Tickets

Essex Senior League
Woodford Town v Romford @745pm - I'm pretty sure both of these sides have been top at some point, the hosts definitely were. Over the last couple of months, Woodford appeared to have lost their way a bit and were drifting towards midtable but four straight wins have hoisted them back up to second, three points ahead of Wednesday's visitors who are third - it could be a cracker. Tickets will be available on the gate

FAWNL Division 1 South East
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - the Dons travel to fifth-placed Ashford hoping for a win that will put them nine points clear at the top. If they do achieve that it won't be quite as dominant a position as it might first appear as their main rivals Norwich City will have three games in hand
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Thursday 21 February

Professional Development League
QPR v Colchester United @7pm - the R's welcome opposition from Essex for this U21 game at Hanwell Town. QPR have been top of the Group South of this competition for most of the season but now have three teams just a point behind them. Colchester are bottom of the 10-team division so should be beaten. Tickets are £5 on the gate

London Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Balham v Metropolitan Police @745pm - with the last-eight ties spread over several weeks, this is the first. It sees a ninth-tier side hosting one from the eighth. Balham won this cup back in 2018 beating Cray Valley PM 4-1. The Met, on the other hand, have made five finals and last won it in 2010. With the hosts pushing for promotion and the visitors looking to avoid relegation from the level above, it should be close. Tickets will be available on the gate
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Friday 23 February

Premier League International Cup Quarter-Final
West Ham United v  Brighton & Hove Albion @7pm - we're also down to the last eight in this U21 competition with a European flavour. I say last eight but it's actually now seven as Chelsea lost to PSV Eindhoven in the first quarter-final last week. It's kind of good that they did as PSV are the only non-English club left in the competition so it wouldn't have been very international if they'd gone out. As for this tie, both clubs are in the top six of the Premier League 2 so this is another match that should be competitive. This is being played at the Hammers' Rush Green training facility and tickets will be available on the gate

Isthmian League North
New Salamis v Ipswich Wanderers @745pm - the highest level non-league match of the night sees two teams in the bottom seven of this division meet at Haringey Borough's ground. With the bottom two going down and being well adrift of everyone else, there isn't a huge amount riding on this. Tickets will be available on the gate

Essex Senior League
Woodford Town v Little Oakley @745pm - although a level below New Salamis, there could well be a more lively crowd and better atmosphere at Ashtons. Remember, the hosts still have a chance of winning the title and the visitors are the type of midtable team that must be beaten if they are to be taken seriously. Tickets will be available on the gate 
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Saturday 24 February

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Burnley @3pm - Austrian Oliver Glasner takes charge of his first match at Selhurst Park after replacing Roy Hodgson earlier in the week. Winless in three, the Eagles sit five points above the relegation zone so there's work to be done. The visitors have only won three games all season and look doomed to go down. Palace won at Turfmoor earlier in the campaign and really need to complete a double here. Tickets are only available to members
Arsenal v Newcastle United @8pm - the Gunners' great winning run in the league has taken them to third but despite this great form, they suffered a slightly surprising 1-0 loss at Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday. The Magpies had a great season last year and finished in the top four. This time round they've won less than half their games and have only made it to eighth and will do well to get into the Conference League. Despite this, Eddie Howe's team did manage to beat Arsenal at St James' Park in November so it's not a foregone conclusion by any means. Tickets are only available to members

Championship
QPR v Rotherham United @3pm - there's a huge game at the wrong end of the second tier as two of the bottom three meet at Loftus Road. With only one defeat in five, the R's are now just a point adrift of safety. Millwall are the team they're trying to catch and their form has plummeted in recent weeks, leading to the sacking of young head coach Joe Edwards. Rotherham's cause looks pretty hopeless but they haven't given up the fight - it took a 95th-minute goal for high-flying Ipswich to beat them 4-3 on Tuesday. Tickets 
Watford v Huddersfield Town @3pm - a run of three straight defeats earlier in the month pretty much ended the Hornets' promotion charge but on Saturday they could play a big part in who goes down. The Terriers sit just above aforementioned strugglers Millwall so if they lose here and QPR get three points, they could find themselves in the relegation zone. Tickets

League One
Charlton Athletic v Portsmouth @3pm - three games into his new reign, Nathan Jones is still looking for his first win as Addicks boss. If he gets it here, it will be quite something as Pompey are six points clear at the top of the division. Something to give Charlton fans a bit of hope - they drew 2-2 at Fratton Park in November and are unbeaten in five against the Hampshire club. Tickets

League Two
Sutton United v Colchester United @3pm - it's a big day for teams battling the drop. Sutton have been at the foot of the fourth tier for sometime now and still haven't won under new manager Steve Morison. Seven points from safety, their escape isn't impossible but they've got to start winning soon. Colchester are fourth from bottom but are seven points clear of the drop zone - a win would do wonders for them to. Tickets

Premier League Cup
Tottenham Hotspur v Fleetwood Town @1pm - if you've not been to the impressive Tottenham Hostpur Stadium then now's your chance to do it on the cheap. Spurs' have made it to the last 16 of this U21 competition and tickets are £10 

National League
Barnet v York City @3pm - in the fifth tier, there's a match of some significance affecting either end of the table. The Bees are third but have a game in hand which could put them second. Although York are 16th out of 24 teams, only four points separate the clubs between 11th and 21st so virtually anyone in the bottom half could go down in what must be one of the tightest relegation battles in the country. Tickets

National League South
Dartford v Taunton Town @3pm - avoiding relegation is still a concern for both these teams too. Although both sit outside the drop zone at present, Welling United are picking up points fast under new manager Rod Stringer and they could be caught. Tickets

Isthmian League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Wingate & Finchley @3pm - away from all the doom and gloom of relegation, we've got a north London derby featuring two sides who are going for promotion. The Towners are often there or thereabouts in the race for the play-offs and they're currently occupying fifth, the last spot. W&F on the other hand are one of the smallest clubs in the division and do well just to survive at this level. So it's quite something for them to be up in fourth. When the sides met at Summers Lane on Halloween, Wingate had a horror show of a game losing 4-1 and they'll be hoping to avoid that at all costs. Tickets

Isthmian League South Central
Raynes Park Vale v Leatherhead @3pm - although there are a couple of relegation six-pointers elsewhere, I've gone for this as the match of the day in the eighth tier. The sides in second to fifth make the play-offs in this division and both clubs are in there at the moment. In fifth, RPV have a five-point cushion over Westfield who are leading the chase so they could do with the points slightly more than the Tanners. Tickets

CCL Premier North
Rayners Lane v Flackwell Heath @3pm - there's no doubt about the big game in the ninth tier where the top two in this division go head-to-head at Tithe Farm. The hosts have been top for a long time but the Heathens are now in a position to usurp them. Three points behind and with a game in hand, this game is absolutely huge for both as only one team goes up automatically. Tickets will be available on the gate

ECL Division 1 South
Clapton v Clapton CFC @3pm - in the 10th tier, El Claptico is definitely the most interesting match for your consideration. However, the attendance is likely to be a lot lower than it could be as most supporters of the away team are likely to boycott the game. CCFC were formed by supporters of the Tons who had become disillusioned with the way it was being run. On paper, CCFC are third so should start as favourites. Tickets will be available on the gate
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Sunday 25 February

EFL Cup Final
Chelsea v Liverpool @3pm - tenth in the Premier League, the Blues are having a season to forget so this match represents a huge moment of potential redemption for them. They last won this cup in 2022 to take their tally of wins to five. If they do win at Wembley on Sunday, it will be quite an achievement as the Reds are currently top of the Premier League and have won this cup more times than anyone else. Also, when the sides last met at the end of January, Jurgen Klopp's side strolled to a 4-1 win at Anfield so they're big favourites again. Tickets are not available

FAWNL Division 1 South East
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Chesham United @2pm - there's an international break in the women's game this weekend so this is the highest level game you can go to. The Tangerines will jump above Cambridge United into the top five if they beat the Generals who have probably done enough to avoid the drop. Tickets will be available on the gate

Friendly
Actonians v Maidenhead United @2pm - with the amount of rain we've had and with further more forecast, it wouldn't be a huge surprise if the game at Ashford got postponed. That's highly unlikely to happen here where teams from parallel fourth-tier divisions meet for a friendly on the 3G at Gunnersbury Park. Admission is free

L&SE Women's League Premier
Sutton United v Dartford @2pm - six points separate the top three as we approach the final weeks of the season. The visitors are currently four points clear at the top and should fancy themselves to take the points at Gander Green Lane. However, former Actonians defender Justine Buckmire has recently signed for the U's and will look to anchor the defence as they attempt to shut out the leaders. Tickets will be available on the gate

L&SE Women's League D1 South
SL Benfica v Dulwich Hamlet Reserves @2pm - in the sixth tier there's a top-two clash at Rectory Park in Northolt. Benfica have had a huge upturn in form this season and have been among the frontrunners for the whole campaign. With Brentford also in the division and apparently throwing quite a bit of resource at their team to get promoted, the club with its roots in London's Portuguese community are doing superbly well to be out in front at this stage. Although Dulwich's second string are just two points behind, they've played three games more so really have to win to stay in contention


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!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below, via X/Twitter or even by good old email.

Has this blog been helpful? Donate to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund here 

Sunday 11 February 2024

TLFG: 12-18 February 2024

Welcome to TLFG Valentine's Week Special - not really, I don't have time for any of that!

What's the most eventful Valentine's Day (VD) you've ever had? Mine saw me have my appendix removed when I was 14.

There was also a time at university, when myself and a colleague who ran the hall of residence sports and social committee spent ages writing homemade cards to every woman in the building to make sure no-one missed out - make of that what you will.

With VD falling on a Wednesday this year, some clubs have games. Have you seen any great offers from the clubs for that 'special person in your life'? There's usually one or two.

Midfielder Camila Orozco Saenz was in the thick of the action for Actonians

Anyway, enough of all the VD chat, my football week has seen preparations for Non-League Day continue.

The most exciting thing relating to this was a meeting with a corporate sponsor who are offering opportunities I could only ever have previously dreamed of.

A few things need to fall into place for the full potential of such a relationship to be realised but it's really close and hopefully I'll be able to update you with more news on this soon.

As for live action, I was back at Rectory Park today (Sunday) for the Women's National League game between Actonians and Cambridge United.

Aside from the football, I also made my debut as the gate man after a late call up from the chair in the morning. 

To be honest, I was a bit unsure about doing it but I grew into it and managed to make the club a few quid even though I wasn't provided with a float.

I also managed a bit of chat with some of the punters who included a player's uncle who had travelled from Edinburgh, a player's boyfriend who thought it was free to get in but was happy enough to pay, the Cambridge keeper's boyfriend who lived locally and some of the Cambridge media team.

With the sides neck-and-neck in the table, it was expected to be tight and so it began.

Watching the game with one of Actonians' management team from last season, I enjoyed some great insight into what was going on.

Chances were few and far between as the interval approached but then another well taken goal from Amber Dredge gave the A's a 1-0 lead.

After the break, things continued to be competitive but then the referee made two decisions which changed the course of the game.

Stamford Bridge plays host to Chelsea's U21 side on Thursday

Firstly, a fierce shot from the A's American midfielder Camila Orozco Saenz crashed against the underside of the bar and appeared to cross the line but the officials didn't agree and waved play on.

Then almost immediately, one of the most blatant handballs I've ever seen and heard (the slap was audible from the other end of the pitch) was also missed and the player slammed home an equaliser.

Still smarting from this, the A's defence got opened up again and defender Jennie Brereton stuck out a hand to stop a goal and got sent off - correctly.

The resulting penalty was smoothly converted and, although Actonians hit the woodwork twice in the last half hour, Cambridge rattled off another three goals to win 5-1.

With both sides realistically out of the promotion and relegation battles, this was close to being a dead rubber so it's not the end of the world.

Much more important is Actonians' Capital Senior Cup Quarter-Final against Fulham this Sunday.

The Cottagers beat the A's in the FA Cup on penalties earlier in the season so it would be nice to get some revenge and a cup semi-final place.

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week we've got matches in the Premier League, EFL, National League, FA Trophy, Women's Super League and Premier League International 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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple 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.

Monday 12 February

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Chelsea @8pm - the week begins with this London derby. The Blues have had a very poor season by their standards with two consecutive defeats leaving them 11th in the Premier League. However, Palace are even further down the table and Chelsea seem to well and truly have their number, beating them on the last 13 occasions in all competitions. Tickets are only available to members

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Tuesday 13 February

League One
Charlton Athletic v Lincoln City @745pm - the Addicks brought in former Luton and Southampton manager Nathan Jones as their new boss last week and he began with a 2-0 loss at fellow strugglers Reading. Things are looking pretty dire for the new man with his side being kept out of the relegation zone by goal difference alone. On top of that, the two teams below them both have games in hand. The Imps are next to visit and they're building a decent unbeaten run to keep their faint play-off hopes alive. Lincoln won the reverse fixture 3-1 back in October. Tickets
Leyton Orient v Northampton Town @745pm - the O's have had a great few weeks but their unbeaten run came to an end at Barnsley on Saturday. Up in ninth, they're still eight points adrift of the play-off places so they can't afford to lose too many more games if they want to stay in contention. Tickets

League Two
Sutton United v Wrexham @745pm - the U's have improved a lot under new boss Steve Morison but they still haven't won any of the six games he's presided over. On Tuesday night they face one of the toughest games of the season when Phil Parkinson's promotion contenders head down from Wales. Despite being one of the favourites for promotion, they've lost three in a row so this could be a good time to play them. Tickets have sold out but a waiting list has been opened 

Professional Development League
QPR v Watford @7pm - if you're into U21 football or simply want a slightly earlier kick-off then this derby at Hanwell Town could be for you. The R's youngsters are having a fine season and currently top Group South whilst the Hornets are down in eighth with nearly half the points. Entry is usually £5 on the gate but check all the details with QPR on the day

FA Trophy Fifth Round
Wealdstone v Hendon @745pm - with the original tie postponed on Saturday, these two local rivals will give it another go on Tuesday. As members of the National League, the Stones play two levels above the Greens and will be big favourites to win. However, the north-west London club caused one of the upsets of the competition so far by beating Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park in the last round and defeating sides from higher divisions in the two rounds before that. The club who play within sight of the Wembley arch, should travel to Grosvenor Vale with little to fear. Tickets

Middlesex Senior Cup Semi-Final
Rayners Lane v North Greenford United @745pm - there's a lot of great stuff going on in west London on Tuesday with this all-CCL derby in the county cup. Rayners Lane are top of the ninth-tier division both clubs are in whilst NGU are sixth and well in with a chance of getting a play-off spot. The visitors also pulled off a fantastic win at Essex Senior League leaders Tilbury in the FA Vase on Saturday to take them into the last eight of that competition. The winners will play Hayes & Yeading United or Hendon in the final. Tickets will be available on the gate
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Wednesday 14 February

Championship
Millwall v Ipswich Town @745pm - after a great festive period which seemed to pull them well clear of the bottom three, the Lions are now sliding back into the mire. Saturday's loss at Coventry means they're now only four points above a relegation zone which is topped by a QPR side who are unbeaten in four and growing in confidence. Since sensationally losing to non-league Maidstone in the FA Cup, Ipswich have failed to win their next two league games meaning they're now down to fourth. Tickets 

Isthmian League South East
Phoenix Sports v Beckenham Town @745pm - the best non-league option of the night would appear to be this relegation six-pointer in south-east London. Both clubs are in the bottom three and fighting for every point so there's plenty to play for. Tickets will be available on the gate

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Thursday 15 February

Premier League International Cup Quarter-Final
Chelsea v PSV Eindhoven @7pm - if there's a youngster in your life who likes Chelsea or would just enjoy a visit to Stamford Bridge then this U21 match could make for a great half-term excursion. The Blues have never been beyond the semi-finals in this competition whilst PSV are the reigning champions, made the final on one other occasion and are the only non-English club remaining in this year's competition. Tickets
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Friday 16 February

Women's Super League
Chelsea v Manchester City @715pm - there's an absolutely huge game in the WSL on Friday night, which might as well be a title decider given how precious points are in this division. The Blues are currently three points ahead of City at the top but the visitors are in better form. On Sunday, Gareth Taylor's side notched an impressive 2-0 win at Arsenal in the FA Cup whilst Chelsea huffed and puffed to a 1-0 win over Championship club Crystal Palace. For the good of the league, if nothing else, I'm really hoping for a City win. Given its importance, it's kind of weird that this match is at Kingsmeadow whilst the U21s are at Stamford Bridge the night before - as a result it's sold out

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Southampton @7pm - back in the men's game, we've got some more U21 football. The Gunners are third in the 26 team PL2 but some way behind leaders Spurs. The Saints are way down in 18th and should be beaten. This is being played at Boreham Wood - entrance is often free for these games but shouldn't be more than £5
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Premier League
Brentford v Liverpool @1230pm - having missed the first half of the season with a betting ban, Ivan Toney is back in the Bees' side and making a huge impact. With three goals in four games, Thomas Frank's side are a different proposition with him in the team and they should beat the drop. Whether they get any points against the league leaders is another matter although they are unbeaten in the two games against them at the GTech and they scored three in each. Tickets are not available
Fulham v Aston Villa @3pm - four and half miles along the Thames path, you come to Craven Cottage which plays host to this match. With only one defeat in five, the Cottagers have put 10 points between themselves and the relegation zone so things are looking pretty promising. Villa, on the other hand, are up in fifth and looking for a Champions League place. Although losing to Manchester United last weekend, most reports said they were very unlucky and should've got something. With four wins from five against the west London club, Unai Emery's side should start as favourites. Tickets are unavailable but hospitality packages are available from £400+
Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers @3pm - building a nice unbeaten run, Spurs are back in the top four and looking to cement their place there. Getting another three points against Wolves though, won't be easy. Although down in 11th, a Europa Conference League place is starting to come into view for the Midlands club. Gary O'Neil has done a superb job at Molineux and must be in the running for at least a place on the shortlist for manager of the season. They've also only lost one of their last five against Tottenham and won the reverse fixture 2-1 in November. Tickets are only available to members

Women's Super League
Arsenal v Manchester United @1230pm - the roads and public transport network in north London look set to be very busy on Saturday. With around 60,000 heading to Spurs, a similar amount of people have bought tickets for this women's game at the Emirates - the first time a WSL match at this venue has sold out. The Gunners have had a very difficult couple of weeks, losing to struggling West Ham in the league and getting knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City. Trophy-wise, the League Cup is all they realistically look capable of winning now. Aside from that, keeping hold of third place and qualifying for Europe is also a top priority and the only team likely to nick it off them are United. When they last met in October, it ended 2-2. Tickets are not available

Championship
Millwall v Sheffield Wednesday @3pm - with all of the above sold out, the highest level game the casual fan or groundhopper can get a ticket for on Saturday is this one. It looks like a potential cracker too with both battling to avoid the drop. With Birmingham, Stoke and Huddersfield all winning in midweek, the Lions are now just above the relegation zone. Although they have a four-point cushion between themselves and QPR, their form is poor and it's a worrying time for their fans. Wednesday are seven points adrift of safety so losing this would make staying up very difficult indeed. Tickets

League One
Leyton Orient v Burton Albion @3pm - with only one defeat in 10, the O's are up in eighth but still seven points off the all-important top six. The visitors are down in 18th but with seven points from four games, they've got a bit of momentum and are staying just ahead of the strugglers. The last match between them ended goalless, so hopefully there'll be a few more goals this time. Tickets

League Two
AFC Wimbledon v Morecambe @3pm - locked together on 46 points and only a point shy of the play-off places, this is a big game for both sides. With four wins from five, the Shrimps are in better form than the Dons and they thrashed them 4-1 in October. Tickets

National League
Bromley v Chesterfield @3pm - the match of the day in the fifth tier sees the top two meet at Hayes Lane. With the Spireites way out in front at the top, a win here could potentially leave them 26 points clear with 13 games to go and make this effectively a title decider ,if it wasn't a foregone conclusion already. Although the title might be beyond them, finishing second makes things easier in the play-offs and the Ravens are also still doing well in the FA Trophy so they still have plenty to play for. Tickets

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Aveley @3pm - my pick of the day in the sixth tier sees two of the play-off hopefuls meet at the Beveree. The hosts are currently just about holding on to seventh, the last play-off spot, whilst former leaders Aveley are four points behind in 10th. With only six points separating the clubs in 6th-13th, it's shaping up to be quite a battle. Tickets

Isthmian League Premier Division
Hornchurch v Haringey Borough @3pm - there's a game of some significance at either end of the table in the seventh tier. The Urchins seem to be permanently nine points clear at the top, with second-placed Chatham refusing to let them go. On Saturday you'd expect them to get another win against a Haringey side who are battling the drop. It was tight when they played at Coles Park with Hornchurch winning 2-1. Tickets

Isthmian League South Central
Chipstead v Chertsey Town @3pm - it's a similar story at High Road where the struggling Chips welcome the division-leading Curfews. The hosts are currently in the bottom four but, with only two going down, will probably just about keep their heads above water. Chertsey, on the other hand, are six points clear with two games in hand on their nearest rivals - it's looking really good for them. Tickets are £10 on the gate

Essex Senior League
Athletic Newham v Sporting Bengal United @3pm - in the ninth tier, why not check out this east London derby between sides from the neighbouring boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets? Not only is this a derby, the sides are both in the top five and looking to go up. Tickets will be available on the gate

London Senior Trophy Semi-Final
Croydon v Cockfosters Reserves @3pm - no 10th-tier games are really grabbing me but this important cup match does. The Trams made it to the semi-finals last season too before losing on penalties to eventual champions FC Petrocub. They're up against 11th-tier opposition so will start as favourites. Tickets will be available on the gate
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Sunday 18 February

Women's Super League
Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa @2pm - sixth in the league and through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, Spurs are having a pretty satisfactory season. On Sunday they welcome a side who did really well last season but have found this campaign much more of a struggle. Having improved considerably, Villa are now up in midtable and in very little danger of relegation. The sides' current league form is identical over the last five games so a draw looks highly likely. This is being played at Leyton Orient. Online sales appear to have ended but I'm sure you can pay on arrival - adult tickets are £10

Women's Championship
Charlton Athletic v Reading @2pm - the Addicks pushed Spurs really hard in the FA Cup last week before losing 1-0. Karen Hills' side return to league duty here where they find themselves top of an incredibly tight division. Remember that only one team goes up at the end of the season and there are currently only four points between the top five. Sadly for the Royals, they are not one of them. Relegated from the WSL last season, off-field issues have really blighted the Berkshire club and they could go down again. This is being played at VCD Athletic. Tickets
Crystal Palace v Blackburn Rovers @2pm - the Eagles are also in the title-chasing group and crucially have a game in hand which would put them top on goal difference if they won it. Rovers are the ultimate midtable club. Sitting sixth, they're 12 points behind Charlton so realistically have little chance of going up. They're actually much closer to the relegation zone but it would be quite a surprise if they end up in the bottom two. This match is being played at Sutton United. Tickets
London City Lionesses v Durham @2pm - with a change of ownership in December and management this month, this is very much a season of transition for the hosts. Knocked out of the FA Cup and League Cup over the last few days, it's been a tough week. Now they return to the crucial business of league football where a marginally better goal difference than Watford is all that's keeping them out of the relegation zone. Durham are locked on points with Blackburn so are beatable. This being played at Dartford. Tickets

Essex Women's Cup Semi-Final
Hashtag United v Chelmsford City @130pm - in the lower tiers of the women's game it's all about county cups on Sunday. Let's just say if the third-tier Tags put their strongest side out here, they'll probably score double figures against a side who play four levels below them. I think it's fair to say, there'll be a fair bit of squad rotation as Hashtag are far more worried about winning the Southern Premier title and getting into the Championship. Tickets will be available on the gate

Capital Senior Cup Quarter-Finals
Actonians v Fulham @2pm - there should be some far better matches in this competition where the teams will be far more focused on doing well and playing their first teams. Almost certain to finish in midtable, this is now a big priority for the A's who play in the fourth tier, one level above Fulham. The Cottagers, however, are in the title race in the fifth tier and beat Actonians on penalties in the FA Cup in October so this should be really competitive again. This is being played at Rectory Park in Northolt. Tickets are available online or on the gate (cash only) where there's a chance I could be taking your money
AFC Wimbledon v Millwall Lionesses @2pm - the Dons made the final last year where they lost to Arsenal's youngsters. With the Gunners already knocked out by Fulham, Wimbledon are probably now the favourites but a lot will depend how seriously they take it. In a really tight title battle with Norwich City, promotion will be their top priority. Millwall play a level below but picked up the notable scalp of QPR in the last round. Tickets will be available on the gate
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v London Seaward @3pm - on paper, the most balanced tie of the round sees two midtable fourth-tier clubs do battle at the Robert Parker Stadium near Heathrow. The hosts have had a better season so far but there really is little to choose between them as the 1-1 draw between them two weeks ago demonstrated. Tickets will be available on the gate
Haringey Borough v Tottenham Hotspur U21 @2pm - in the final tie there's an intriguing north London derby between two clubs who are based within sight of each other. Strictly speaking, it's Haringey who are actually based on White Hart Lane whilst Spurs are on Tottenham High Road but you get the idea. The hosts play in the fifth tier but so do Dulwich Hamlet who Spurs only managed to scrape past on penalties in the last round. Tickets will be available on the gate


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!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below, via X/Twitter or even by good old email.

Has this blog been helpful? Donate to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund here 

Sunday 4 February 2024

TLFG: 5-11 February 2024

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

This week has been incredibly hectic again as I've tried to juggle this blog, Non-League Day preparations here and in the Basque Country, a job application, my normal work commitments, my eldest daughter's birthday and her subsequent party!

Somehow I also managed to squeeze in a football away day on Sunday afternoon and that's why I'm still writing at 1030pm  and still have a match report to produce for that game before I can go to bed.

The away day in question involved my beloved Actonians who headed to Sussex to play Haywards Heath Town.

Actonians travelled to Haywards Heath Town on Sunday

This match had previously been abandoned at half-time before Christmas because of poor pitch conditions and postponed again since then, so this was the third attempt to get the game played.

The journey from Shepherds Bush to Haywards Heath, via Clapham Junction, is actually pretty quick and takes just over an hour.

Despite loads of taxis parked outside the station, I opted to walk the mile or so to the ground which Google Maps told me was mostly flat - lie! 

Although I arrived shortly after 2pm, the match hadn't kicked off so I was there in time to see the action get underway.

Ahead of the game, most A's fans had been pretty confident of getting something as Haywards Heath Town were bottom of this fourth-tier division.

Hopes were boosted still further by news of star player Skye Bacon's move to league leaders AFC Wimbledon earlier in the week.

However, 70 seconds after the start, goalkeeper Amber Taylor found herself picking the ball out of the net after a scorching 25-yarder found the top corner.

The rest of the first half was turgid with the heavy pitch restricting the quality on show.

Actonians huffed and puffed as they looked for an equaliser and created a number of half chances before the hosts somehow failed to score a second after a lighting break opened up the visitors' defence.

The second half saw the A's keep piling on the pressure but clear-cut chances were few and far between.

Heavy tackles flew in from both sides, with several players left to limp out of proceedings as the clock ran down.

With five minutes to go, Actonians won a free-kick way out on the right which winger Amber Dredge sent straight over the keeper's head into the far corner to finally make it 1-1.

Deep into injury time in something like the 100th minute, Dredge popped up again to send another high effort goalwards.

The diminutive HHT keeper, who had made some good saves during the game, could only palm it into the net to spark wild celebrations.

It's now four wins out of five in 2024 for Actonians and they're up to sixth - bring on Cambridge United on Sunday.

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week we've got matches in the Premier League, EFL, National League, FA Trophy, FA Vase, Women's FA Cup, Women's League Cup and FA Youth 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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple 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.

Monday 5 February

Premier League
Brentford v Manchester City @8pm - with all four teams immediately below them managing to draw this weekend, the Bees are now only three points above the relegation zone. At the other end of the table, City watched with glee as leaders Liverpool got beaten at Arsenal. This means that if they win at the GTech they'll cut the gap on the Reds to just two points and still have a game in hand. An away win looks almost certain BUT Brentford did the double over the eventual league champions last season so they can't be completely discounted. Tickets are not available

Premier League Cup
Charlton Athletic v Wolverhampton Wanderers @7pm - if you can't get in at Brentford then maybe this U21 match could be for you instead. It's being played at Dartford and to be honest it's a dead rubber as the top two spots in Group C have already been secured by Bournemouth and Norwich. Tickets will be available on the gate

ECL Division 1 South
Barkingside v NW London @8pm - just two points apart in midtable, both of these sides are a lot nearer the relegation zone than the top five and could therefore do with a win. Please check the venue and kick-off time before you travel as the club, at the time of writing, haven't confirmed the details yet

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Tuesday 6 February

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Chesterfield @745pm - the Daggers recorded a hugely important 2-1 win at Rochdale on Saturday to move five points clear of the relegation zone. With only six points separating the teams in 12th-21st, the fight to avoid the drop looks like it's going to be quite something. The title race, on the other hand, looks over already. With their nearest rivals dropping more points at the weekend, the Spireites' 3-1 win at Eastleigh saw them move 19 points clear at the top. Having already beaten D&R 3-1 earlier in the season, they look like a very safe bet to win here. Tickets

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v St Albans City @745pm - game of the day in the sixth tier is this match between the teams in fifth and sixth. The hosts ended their three game losing streak on Saturday with a narrow 2-1 win over Truro City whilst St Albans trounced Torquay United 4-0 at Plainmoor. Third place is up for grabs for the winners. Tickets

Isthmian League Premier
Wingate & Finchley v Chatham Town @745pm - on Tuesday, Wingate lost to Dulwich Hamlet to finally surrender their place in the top five. However, they bounced straight back on Saturday with a solid 3-0 win over Lewes to remain sixth and firmly in touch with the other play-off contenders. The visitors stayed second after a 2-1 win at Whitehawk but with leaders Hornchurch still nine points clear, the runners-up spot looks to be the best anyone else will get. Tickets

FA Youth Cup Fifth Round
Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth @7pm - a place in the quarter-finals is up for grabs on Tuesday night at Plough Lane. Yes, you read that right. For some weird reason, this U18 match is being played at AFC Wimbledon's stadium which is firmly on the south side of the city, nowhere near Tottenham's N17 home. Spurs' youngsters are currently top of the South group of the U18 Premier League, making them one of the best sides in the country. The Cherries play at a lower level so will start as significant underdogs. Tickets
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Wednesday 7 February

London Senior Cup Second Round
Welling United v Charlton Athletic U21 @745pm - after surprisingly sacking boss Danny Bloor last weekend, the Wings' board appointed Rod Stringer and he managed a superb win over Hampton & Richmond in midweek before getting another point against Taunton on Saturday. Now unbeaten in three, the Wings next face a squad from local EFL club Charlton. Barking await the winners in the quarter-finals. Tickets

CCL Premier South
Balham v Fleet Town @745pm - the hosts enjoyed a derby win over local rivals Tooting & Mitcham United on Saturday to move into the top six. Now only one point adrift of the play-off places, the south London club need to keep the wins coming to stay in contention. Fleet are 10th so should provide a stern test. Tickets will be available on the gate

Women's League Cup Quarter-Final
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City @730pm - three of the competition's quarter-finals are taking place in London on Wednesday with Chelsea and London City Lionesses also hosting games. This is the pick of the ties as it features two WSL sides. This cup has only been going since 2011 and City have won it four times to put them second on the all-time list of winners behind Arsenal. The Mancunian club are also the WSL's form team and should beat a competitive Spurs side here IF they put out a full-strength side but that's not a given. Being played at Leyton Orient, tickets are available

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Thursday 8 February

FA Youth Cup Fifth Round
Crystal Palace v Chelsea @7pm - in the other tie of the week in this U18 competition, we've got a highly competitive looking derby to look forward to. These two are currently level on points in the league, in the top five of the South division. It's also being played at Selhurst Park. Tickets
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Friday 9 February

Premier League 2
There's a huge night of U21 action to be enjoyed on Friday with Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Fulham and West Ham United all hosting games. Sadly none of them will be at the clubs' main stadiums. You should be able to pay on the gate for all of them

Isthmian League North
New Salamis v Grays Athletic @745pm - if you'd rather do your bit to support a non-league club instead, then head up to Coles Park in Haringey where two teams in the lower reaches of this eighth-tier division do battle. With one team having already folded, there's only one relegation place to still be decided and these two are well clear of the team in 19th so both have little to fear or play for. Tickets will be available on the gate
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Premier League
Fulham v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - just a point apart in midtable and in very similar form, these two will probably avoid the drop but could do with a win or two to keep the pressure off. The Cherries won the reverse fixture on Boxing Day 3-0 and are unbeaten in five against the Cottagers so you'd expect them to at least get a draw here. Tickets are available
Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - two of the division's most attractive sides meet at the THS on Saturday. Unbeaten in four, Spurs could get back into the Champions League places with a win here. Roberto De Zerbi's side have won a lot of plaudits since he took over and they recovered really well from their shock thrashing by Luton to inflict a 4-1 defeat on arch rivals Crystal Palace last time out. Sitting just outside the European places, they need to keep the good results coming or they could drift into midtable. Tickets are only available to members 

Championship
QPR v Norwich City @3pm - with seven points from their last three games, the R's have given themselves a chance of getting out of the bottom three. If they beat the Canaries and Huddersfield lose, then they'll move out of the relegation zone. However, the visitors are going along pretty nicely at the moment and could move into the top six if they are victorious. The East Anglian club are unbeaten in eight against QPR so they're becoming a bit of a bogey club for Rangers. Tickets
Watford v Leicester City @3pm - with only one win from five, the Hornets' play-off ambitions have suffered a bit of hit recently. Still only four points adrift of sixth, they are in contention but they can't let their form continue in this way. Sadly, they might have to wait a bit longer to pick up that next win as the Foxes are rapidly becoming the champions elect even at this relatively early stage. Already 11 points clear at the top, they've had a fine season. However, they've only won three of their last five so they aren't infallible. Tickets

League Two
AFC Wimbledon v Barrow @3pm - the Dons' form has been pretty inconsistent of late but they're still only one point outside the play-off places so there's plenty to play for. On Saturday they welcome a gifted Barrow side to Plough Lane. Up in third, the Cumbrian side have only lost five of their 30 games but the London club did manage a 0-0 draw when they last played in October. Tickets

FA Trophy Fifth Round
This national knockout competition for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers, which has its final at Wembley, is down to its last 16 teams. Four of the eight ties are being played in London:

Bromley v Aveley @3pm - the Ravens are pushing hard for promotion into the EFL and are doing really well in this competition which they won in 2022 in front of 46,111 fans.  The Millers play in the division below and although they were top earlier in the season, they're now down in eighth. Although underdogs, they took Bromley's promotion rivals Barnet to a replay in the FA Cup earlier in the season so the hosts will have to avoid being complacent at all costs. Tickets
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Macclesfield @3pm - the sixth-tier Beavers play a level above their opponents who are travelling down from Cheshire.On paper they should start as favourites as they've had a great season. However, Macclesfield are a reincarnation of former EFL club and former FA Trophy winners Macclesfield Town. With average crowds of over 3,000 (the eighth highest in non-league football) they are a force to be reckoned with. They famously have former Premier League player and BBC radio presenter Robbie Savage as director of football whilst Alex Bruce and Phil Bardsley head up their coaching team. A bumper crowd is expected so buy your tickets in advance
Wealdstone v Hendon @3pm - given that these sides could have drawn opponents from much further away, they'll be pretty pleased to have ended up with this local derby. As members of the National League, the Stones play two levels above the Greens and will be big favourites to win. However, the north-west London club caused one of the upsets of the competition so far by beating Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park in the last round and defeating sides from higher divisions in the two rounds before that. The club who play within sight of the Wembley arch, should travel to Grosvenor Vale with little to fear. Tickets
Welling United v Barnet @3pm - in the last London tie we've got another derby, although it's not quite as local as the one above. For the second round running, the Wings have drawn one of the best teams left in the competition. Despite being in the sixth tier's relegation zone, they somehow beat National League leaders Chesterfield in the Fourth Round which few saw coming. Next up they play the Bees who are third in the fifth tier. Unbeaten in the league under new manager Rod Stringer, I'm sure Welling will be well motivated to cause another upset. Tickets

Isthmian League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Hornchurch @3pm - possibly the biggest non-league crowd of the day could come at Champion Hill where the Hamlet welcome the league-leading Urchins. Despite only being a midtable seventh-tier team, the hosts frequently get sell-out crowds in excess of 3,000. Sitting six points outside the play-offs, the south London club can still make the post-season but their east London rivals could well leave them nine points adrift by the end of the day. Definitely buy your tickets in advance if you want to go 

Isthmian League South East
Cray Valley PM v Chichester City @3pm - unbeaten in the 23 league games they've played this season, CVPM are now breathing right down the necks of leaders Ramsgate whose sizeable lead has been cut to three points. The reason they're not top already is because of their great runs in the FA Cup and FA Trophy which saw them amass several games in hand. Chichester are seventh but were beaten 3-0 in the reverse fixture last month. Tickets will be available on the gate

FA Vase Fifth Round
This national knockout competition for clubs in the ninth and tenth tiers, which has its final at Wembley, is down to its last 16 teams. One of the eight ties is being played in London:

Hilltop v Romford @3pm - being played at Cobham's ground, the hosts have used a number of venues this season but have settled on this newly refurbished stadium in Surrey for this one. With their roots in London's Somali community, it would be truly sensational if they made it all the way to Wembley this season. They play in the ninth tier CCL North and were bottom until recently, mainly as a result of this cup run and poor weather - they have seven games in hand on some of the teams above them. The visitors play in the parallel Essex Senior League and they too are on to their second ground of the season, having moved into Rookery Hill following the sad demise of East Thurrock United. Fourth in their league, they would appear to be marginal favourites. Tickets will be available on the gate for £8

CCL Premier North
Rayners Lane v Bedfont Sports @3pm - five points clear at the top but having played a game more than title rivals Flackwell Heath, the hosts still have work to do. On Saturday they face a visit from the team in third for what could turn out to be a really crucial match. Tickets will be available on the gate

CCL Premier South
Abbey Rangers v Knaphill @3pm - elsewhere in the ninth tier, there's a big clash between the sides in third and second. With Knaphill a short journey away from Addlestone, it's probably fair to describe this as a derby. With leaders Farnham Town well clear at the top, it would now seem to be about who will finish as runners-up. Tickets will be available on the gate

CCL Division 1
Molesey v Langley @3pm - there aren't any standout fixtures in the 10th tier but this one between two sides who are fighting for the last play-off spot should be worth a watch. Not a million miles from Hampton Court, you could combine this match with a visit to a Tudor Palace. Tickets will be available on the gate

Women's FA Cup Fifth Round
Tottenham Hotspur v Charlton Athletic @515pm - the day comes to a close with a last-16 tie in this competition too. Spurs are a WSL side so will start as strong favourites but the Addicks are top of the Championship and could give them a challenging evening. Being played at Leyton Orient, tickets are available
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Sunday 11 February

Premier League
West Ham United v Arsenal @2pm - the Hammers lost fairly comfortably at Manchester United on Sunday to allow the Red Devils to push ahead of them into the top six. It's unlikely to get any easier on Sunday as the third placed Gunners pay a visit to the London Stadium. Having said that, David Moyes' side have beaten the north London giants twice already this season - winning at the Emirates in the league and knocking them out of the EFL Cup at home. One of the best things about West Ham is that tickets are usually always available for their games and Sunday is no different

Isthmian League Premier
Cray Wanderers v Concord Rangers @3pm - last Sunday saw Cray's women's team play the first match on the pitch at their new ground. The stadium will hopefully be ready for men's football next season and they'll want to make absolutely sure they avoid relegation this season as a result. Ten points clear of the bottom four, they should be fine but they need a few more wins to be sure. Concord are really struggling so this represents a great chance to get more points. Tickets are available

Isthmian League South East
Erith & Belvedere v Sittingbourne @2pm - elsewhere in south-east London, the Deres continue their fight for survival. Currently in the relegation zone but only on goal difference, their chances of staying up are okay. It's going to be tough on Sunday though as Sittingbourne are third and looking to go up. Tickets are available on the gate for £10

Women's FA Cup Fifth Round
Arsenal v Manchester City @1230pm - the tie of the round gets the action underway in the women's game at lunchtime. Despite the return of talismanic captain Leah Williamson from injury, the Gunners suffered an unexpected 2-1 loss at struggling West Ham last week. It leaves them six points behind leaders Chelsea and realistically ends their title ambitions. Therefore, the FA Cup will now be a huge priority for them. Sadly they've drawn City who are in even better form than Chelsea and can't stop winning. When the sides last played in November, Arsenal won 2-1 and they'd be delighted with a similar result here. This match is being played at Boreham Wood and has sold out
Chelsea v Crystal Palace @2pm - Emma Hayes' side have won the FA Cup for the last three years as their dominance of the English domestic game has been almost absolute. With the Eagles a Championship side, albeit a good one, the chances of them causing an upset here must be minimal. This match is being played at Kingsmeadow and tickets are available
London City Lionesses v Liverpool @2pm - the last tie in the wider London area is an intriguing one as it pits a Championship side against a midtable WSL one. LCL were title contenders last season but are not the force they quite were and removed their coaching team on Wednesday. The Reds, however, are the best they've been for a while. Liverpool should win but you never know. This game is being played at Dartford and tickets are available

FAWNL Southern Premier
London Bees v Hashtag United @2pm - the only two sides within the M25 in this division meet at The Hive on Sunday. Although the hosts have been playing in the second and third tiers for most of their existence, they're in real trouble and have yet to win a league match this season. The Tags, on the other hand, are firmly in with a chance of a second consecutive promotion and are a pretty safe bet to win here. Tickets will be available on the gate

FAWNL Division 1 South East
Actonians v Cambridge United @2pm - with four wins out of five in 2024, the A's moved up to sixth on Sunday which might well be the highest they've been all season. Picking up another couple of injuries, they might not be as strong as they'd like for the visit of the U's who've beaten them twice already this season in the league and league cup. Those games both ended 2-1 and the hosts would dearly love to get one over Darren Marjoram's side. Tickets are £5 - maybe see you there


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? 
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