Sunday, 17 March 2019

TLFG: 18-24 March 2019

Greetings one and all - I hope you're well.

I'll keep this pretty brief as I'm on early shifts at work and I'm well past my bedtime!

The main thing to note about the week ahead is that it's an international break which means there are no Premier League or Championship games - in fact there's only one EFL game at AFC Wimbledon.

With games a little bit thin on the ground, I've included a few more than usual from outside London or from lower levels - you can find them all on the match maps.

The main match of the week is England's Euro 2020 qualifier against the Czech Republic at Wembley whilst over in N17 on Sunday, Tottenham Hotspur host the first test event at their new stadium - sadly getting tickets for both events will now be very difficult or probably quite expensive as the first is sold out and the second must be close, with any available tickets going to members and season-ticket holders only.

With all the big teams having the week off, it's a great time to check out a non-league game and/or a women's match - Chelsea's Women's Champions League quarter-final against PSG being a particular highlight on Thursday.

On a personal note I got to go and see QPR play Rotherham United on Wednesday.

The Millers are battling relegation, hadn't won away all season and hadn't won at Loftus Road since 1951 but on Wednesday night they created a bit of history and did just that as they ran out 2-1 winners courtesy of a 94th-minute goal.

TLFG reader Moran M gets to meet his hero Tomer Hemed on a visit to QPR
It was one of the worst games of football I have ever seen - with both teams playing highly uninspiring stuff. How we got three goals (one of which was a cracker) I'll probably never know.

Thankfully Rangers recovered from 2-0 down to get a very useful point at Hull City on Saturday to partially sweep the awful midweek result somewhat under the carpet.

The best thing about the Rotherham game was getting to meet long-term TLFG reader Moran M from Israel who came on a multi-game tour last season and was back for another one this year.

With trips to various clubs up and down the divisions during his stay, it was a bit of an embarrassment to see him visit W12 for this one.

However, QPR's on-loan striker Tomer Hemed is one of Moran's favourite players and after I advised him to make a banner to catch his attention, the Israeli international came over for a quick chat and a photo after the game - so what could have been a night to forget, ended up being quite the opposite.

As mentioned last week, nominations and voting are now open for the 'Football Blogging Awards'.

This is something I've never got involved in and I'm not even sure which category this blog would fall into but I got an email from the organisers giving me the info so I might as well give it a go so if you could put a vote my way I'd really appreciate it.



There are many fine blogs including other local writers like 'The Cold End' and 'Two Men In Search of The Beautiful Game' who have made a huge contribution over the last few years.

Lastly this week, many thanks to Chris H who donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund this week. I really really appreciate it and thanks also for your kind words.

To recap, I recently received the news that my Dad has lung cancer. This condition also claimed the lives of my Mum and grandfather so with me powerless to do anything medically to help him, I've decided to ask for all donations to this blog to go to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which you can contribute to through the fundraising page I've set up. 

As always - enjoy your football and have a great week.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include some international football plus some action in the EFL and loads of games in our local non-league competitions too.

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 - magenta 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, by day, 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 18 March

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Redbridge @745pm - the week begins with a bit of a grudge match at Cricklefield where the 'Side entertain the club who effectively evicted them from their own ground a few years ago (they sold them the lease and then the rent got too high for them to stay). Now groundsharing at Ilford, this is very much a local derby. Barkingside are bottom but have this game in hand which if drawn will see them climb above Leyton Athletic in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon - they certainly shouldn't be lacking any motivation

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Tuesday 19 March

National League
Barnet v Harrogate Town @745pm - back-to-back draws against Halifax and Hartlepool have left the Bees precariously perched just above the relegation zone but they have four games in hand on all those around them which makes their position a little false. This match is one of those games but it's a tough one. Harrogate were one of the early season pacesetters and although probably out of title contention, are very much in the race for the play-offs and are one of the form teams of the division

A bit further afield
Just beyond the M25 you can catch some seventh-tier football as Beaconsfield Town entertain Welsh club Merthyr Town in an Evo-Stik League game. Over at Hemel Hempstead Town's ground it's also the Herts Senior Centenary Trophy Final between Belstone and London Lions 
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Wednesday 20 March

Essex Senior League
Sporting Bengal United v Ilford @745pm - these two east London clubs sit snugly in the top 10 and apart from maintaining position, have little to play for as the leaders are so far clear. If you're a visitor to London, Sporting Bengal play at the Mile End Stadium and are one of the capital's most centrally located non-league clubs as a result

Herts Senior County League Premier Division
New Salamis v Sandridge Rovers @745pm - with not a huge amount on I thought I'd give this 11th-tier match a mention. Being played at Enfield Town's ground, this is a top-four clash. New Salamis are third and still have a shot at the title

A bit further afield
Hitchin Town v Coalville Town @745pm - a short journey north into deepest Hertfordshire will bring you to Top Field where the hosts entertain promotion chasing Coalville in this seventh-tier Evo-Stik League game
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Thursday 21 March

Women's Champions League Quarter-Final First Leg
Chelsea v Paris Saint-Germain @705pm - women's football tops the bill on Thursday with this hugely important European tie. French clubs have dominated this competition since 2010 with Lyon making the final seven times (winning five) and PSG twice. Both clubs have made it to this year's quarter-finals too. Thankfully for Chelsea they've drawn the 'weaker' of the two with PSG currently second domestically. The Blues won the English double last season and made it through to the FA Cup semi-finals on Sunday. However, they still aren't quite the side they were so this could be quite a challenge. Adult tickets are £6

A bit further afield
The other main match of the night is the England U21 friendly against Poland at Bristol City's Ashton Gate. It's over 100 miles from London but the trains take less than two hours and the last direct one to Paddington leaves Temple Meads at 2235. Adult tickets are £15

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Friday 22 March

Euro 2020 qualifier
England v Czech Republic @745pm - the Three Lions begin their qualifying campaign at Wembley against the Czechs who are, according to the Fifa rankings, the next best team in the group. With Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo also in Group A it should be England's to win but there might be one or two tricky away games which should be negotiated carefully. Although it took a while, this game has now sold out which shows how Gareth Southgate's team have been able to re-engage with the English fans after a very successful 2018

Professional Development League
If you're coming into London for the England game you could make a real day of it and combine that match with an U23 fixture earlier in the day. Millwall, QPR and Watford all have games and to top it all they're all being played at their main stadiums - all three also play near stations with direct links to Wembley too

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Saturday 23 March

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Gillingham @1215pm  - the Dons looked certainties for relegation but they've picked up 10 points from their last four games to put themselves only three points adrift of safety. They've beaten some good sides in the process too. The Gills are only five points above them so are no great shakes but there is an element of a derby about this as they only have to travel from Kent - it's a big game for both teams. This is the only EFL game in London on Saturday and tickets are available

National League
Boreham Wood v Aldershot Town @3pm - one of the smallest teams in the division, The Wood did really well to make the play-off final last year. This year it's been a different story and they find themselves six points above the relegation zone with eight games to go. The Shots have been in the bottom four for a while and with four defeats on the bounce look almost certain to go down. If they win here, things will start to become very uncomfortable for the hosts
Dagenham & Redbridge v Dover Athletic @3pm - the Daggers were in terrible trouble at the start of the season but with their financial problems now behind them, Peter Taylor has managed to stabilise them in midtable. Dover also seemed destined for the drop but they've fought hard to keep their heads above water and will be hungry to pick up something here UPDATE: This match has now been moved to 26th March

National League South
Dartford v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - the Darts are pushing hard for promotion again. They came agonisingly close last year and will be desperate to put that heartache behind them. The title is out of their reach so a play-off place is the best they can hope for but even that isn't a foregone conclusion. Boro have had a disappointing season of transition after seeing boss Alan Dowson leave for Woking but they seem to have done enough to stay up
Wealdstone v Chippenham Town @3pm - if Dartford do slip up, the Stones are one of the teams hoping to nip in and nick one of those play-off places. There or thereabouts all season, Bobby Wilkinson's side haven't quite been able to crack the top seven but with Billericay on the slide, there is a chance of making it. Visitors Chippenham are down in 11th and have almost certainly left themselves with too much to do

Bostik League Premier Division
Corinthian Casuals v Dorking Wanderers @3pm - these two contested a thrilling play-off final a couple of years ago which Wanderers eventually won on penalties. Thankfully Casuals only had to wait another year to enjoy promotion and joined them in the Bostik League's top tier. This season the visitors, after a fairly average start, have grown to become a formidable team and have opened up an almost insurmountable 13-point lead at the top. The hosts, however, need points to avoid the drop but cheered on by a passionate following they should have at least half a chance

Bostik League South Central Division
Hayes & Yeading United v Bracknell Town @3pm - there's no question about which is the game of the week in the eighth tier as the top two meet at the SkyEx. However with H&YU 14 points clear at the top, it's surely just a case of dotting the i's and crossing the t's as far as their title bid is concerned. Whatever happens, there should be plenty of goals - the clubs have banged in a whopping 200 between them in the league this season!

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Croydon v K Sports @3pm - it's been a really tough season for the Trams. Currently 10 points adrift at the bottom you'd think things couldn't get much worse. Ten days ago thieves ransacked their clubhouse, stealing loads of valuables and causing lots of damage. Financially the club were struggling anyway so this was the last thing they needed. They're asking for donations or simply for more people to come down and watch their games so if you're free, get yourself along to the Croydon Arena for this one

Combined Counties League Division 1
Bedfont & Feltham v Farnham Town @3pm - B&F are in a three-way fight for the title with Sheerwater and Frimley Green as we head into the last six games of the season. Farnham are fourth and mathematically also in with a shout so this should be a significant game for all concerned

A bit further afield
With it being an international break, I've added several League One and League Two games to the match map - all of them are less than an hour's journey by train from London. Luton Town's game against Doncaster Rovers is the pick of the matches
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Sunday 24 March

U18 Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton @3pm - ladies and gentlemen the moment we've all been waiting for - the first test event at Tottenham's new stadium! It seems to have been a long time coming but this Sunday is the day. Unsurprisingly tickets aren't available to non-members as the capacity is being limited to 30,000

FA Women's Championship
Charlton Athletic v Manchester United @2pm - the only game in the London area you'll be able to get into is this women's second-tier match but it should be a cracker as it features the recently created Manchester United side who are second and Charlton who are third - the top two go up. Loads to play for!  

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 or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

TLFG: 11-17 March 2019

Greetings one and all and welcome to this week's TLFG.

It's been another significant week of football in the capital so he's a round-up of what's been going on.

If we didn't already know it, the chance of a London club winning the Premier League has now pretty much fizzled out following Southampton's surprise win over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. The north London club stay third but are now 13 points behind Manchester City and are in danger of being caught by Manchester United when they play Arsenal on Sunday.

Talking of the Gunners, if they lose to United, it could become a week to forget following their Europa League loss at Rennes on Thursday.

It was a different story for Chelsea who comfortably beat Dynamo Kiev and they could also close the gap on the top four on Sunday if they beat Wolves at Stamford Bridge.

Sadly Crystal Palace, Watford and West Ham United all lost as did Fulham who now look dead certs for relegation.

In the Championship, Brentford moved up to 12th after an impressive win at Middlesbrough and must now have half an eye on the play-off places which are now only six points away. QPR managed to draw with Stoke whilst Millwall suffered a desperately disappointing defeat to fellow strugglers Bolton to stay just above the relegation zone.

It's back on 6 April for Dagenham & Redbridge's game against Barrow

It was a great day in League One for AFC Wimbledon and Charlton Athletic who both notched hugely important wins over Doncaster Rovers and Portsmouth respectively. The Dons are still marooned at the foot of the table and will probably go down but they're starting to pick up some points and escape is by no means impossible. The Addicks seem to have been fifith forever and should finish there or thereabouts to claim a play-off place again.

Leyton Orient won the big match against Wrexham to return to the top of the National League. They must now focus their efforts on their FA Trophy semi-final against AFC Telford United as they look to do the non-league double.

In the sixth tier, Welling United became our top local club after their 3-1 win at Wealdstone moved them up to third. They also made the London Senior Cup Final after beating Harrow Borough in the semi-finals on Tuesday.

In the lower levels of non-league Cray Wanderers, Harefield United, Hashtag United, Hayes & Yeading United, Sutton Common Rovers and Welling Town are all leading their respective divisions with other London sides poised to challenge for top spot in several others.

My football week saw me head to The Rogers Family Stadium to see the aforementioned cup tie between Harrow and Welling. The Wings were the better side and comfortably won 3-1 and should give Brentford B a good game in the final.

In other news, Spurs finally announced the details for the long-awaited opening of their new stadium. There will be a couple of test events featuring their U18s and a Legends side before they eventually host a league game in April. Demand for all of these is expected to be massive with a season ticket required just enter the initial ballot for the test events.

To mark your card for future weeks, it's great to see that Dagenham & Redbridge are once again holding their annual 'Daggers Against Racism Day' for their match against Barrow on 6 April. One of the best things about this event is the reduced ticket prices which can see adults gain entry for just £2.50 - I'd advise you to book now to avoid missing out.

Nominations and voting also opened this week for the 'Football Blogging Awards'.

This is something I've never got involved in and I'm not even sure which category this blog would fall into but I got an email from the organisers giving me the info so I might as well give it a go.



There are many fine blogs including other local writers like 'The Cold End' and 'Two Men In Search of The Beautiful Game' who have made a huge contribution over the last few years.

Lastly this week, many thanks to Moran M who donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund this week. I really really appreciate it.

To recap, I recently received the news that my Dad has lung cancer. This condition also claimed the lives of my Mum and grandfather so with me powerless to do anything medically to help him, I've decided to ask for all donations to this blog to go to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which you can contribute to through the fundraising page I've set up. 

As always - enjoy your football and have a great week.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include action in the Europa League, Premier League, EFL, FA Trophy, FA Vase and loads of action in our local non-league competitions too.

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 - magenta 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, by day, 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 11 March

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Leyton Athletic @745pm - it's a pretty quiet day across the country but we do have this one match in the ESL. With both sides in the bottom four, there's not a huge amount going for this one but it is pretty easy to get to being just a short walk from Mile End Tube station

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Tuesday 12 March

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Peterborough United @745pm - the Dons have had a pretty good seven days with a draw at Shrewsbury and an unexpected 2-0 home win over Doncaster. The gap to safety is now back down to seven points which has no doubt got a few fans dreaming of staying up again. Posh are chasing a play-off place so this looks like a tough ask on paper but so did the match against Donny. Tickets are available to non-members
Charlton Athletic v Burton Albion @745pm - the Addicks extended their unbeaten run to 11 games with a valuable win over promotion rivals Portsmouth on Saturday evening. An automatic promotion spot looks beyond them at this stage but their grip on a play-off place is looking increasingly secure with 10 games to go. Burton are a solid midtable side who came down from the Championship last season and made it to this season's Carabao Cup semi-finals - they're no mugs and could well be capable of getting at least point. Tickets are available to non-members

National League
Sutton United v Braintree Town @745pm - there are a trio of fixtures in this division on Tuesday and none of them really stand out. At a push I'd go for this one as it features Sutton who are pushing for a play-off spot and Braintree who are bottom and trying against all odds to avoid the drop. The other matches are at Barnet and Bromley

Bostik League South Central
Egham Town v Bracknell Town @745pm - just 20 minutes apart by train, there is a hint of derby about this game which will have ramifications at either end of the table. Bottom and 12 points adrift of safety, the Sarnies look almost certain to go down but they do have the knack of pulling off the odd upset with the draw against runaway leaders Hayes & Yeading raising a few eyebrows last month. Bracknell are second and pretty much certain of a play-off place so will start as huge favourites

SCEFL Challenge Cup Semi-Final Second Leg
Fisher v Corinthian @745pm - after grinding out a 0-0 draw in last week's first leg, two of the league's title contenders meet for a place in the final. Including that game, the sides have met four times already this season with Fisher yet to win. The last time they met at St Paul's was in the FA Vase and it produced a thrilling 4-4 draw so hopefully we'll have some more of the same

A bit further afield
Reading v Leeds United @8pm - one of the biggest games of the night anywhere in the country is taking place just to the west of London where the Royals are now on a three-game unbeaten run that has finally seen them climb out of the bottom three. Saturday's priceless win in the six-pointer against Wigan saw them climb up to 19th but defeat here could see them slide back down into the relegation zone almost immediately given how tight it is down there. After their recent blip at QPR, Leeds have recovered well with back-to-back wins over promotion contenders West Brom and Bristol City and will go top with a win here. Tickets are available to non-members
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Wednesday 13 March

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Rotherham United @745pm - for the neutral this doesn't look like a thriller and it probably won't be but it's of reasonable importance to both clubs. QPR picked up a point from a dour 0-0 draw with Stoke on Saturday (despite having an extra man for 79 minutes) to move 10 points clear of the relegation zone. The Millers stayed in the bottom three after an unsurprising derby defeat at title chasing Sheffield United. QPR haven't lost at home to Rotherham since 1951 and a win here would almost certainly confirm their place in the second tier for next season. Tickets are available to non-members

Essex Senior League
Walthamstow v Stanway Rovers @745pm - the hosts won 2-1 at Stanway in the reverse fixture on Saturday and climbed up to fourth in the process. The top London club in this league by some distance, Ryan Maxwell's side have had a good year and although the title realistically looks beyond them (10 points adrift with seven games to go), they could conceivably finish as high as second

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Welling Town v Erith & Belvedere @745pm - there's a top-two clash at Bayliss Avenue which means it doesn't get much bigger than this as far as this division is concerned. The hosts have been top pretty much all season but the much more experienced Deres are back in contention and although still six points behind, have a considerable four games in hand. The stakes are massive for both!

FA Women's Championship
Charlton Athletic v Millwall Lionesses @745pm - although there are some more important games in the Women's Super League on Wednesday, this south-east London derby would seem to be the biggest occasion as the two clubs' players are being given the chance to shine on the hallowed turf of The Valley itself. With the England team recording their fantastic tournament victory in the SheBelieves Cup in the USA last week, the buzz around women's football is considerable at the moment and hopefully a decent crowd will turn out. Tickets are £6 for adults

A bit further afield
Army FA v Surrey @730pm - if you're looking for something a bit quirky and want to add an unusual ground to your list then head down to the Aldershot Military Stadium for this friendly. It's a chance to see the long established Army team (founded in 1888) take on the very new Surrey international football side. To top it all, it's free to get in
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Thursday 14 March

Europa League
Arsenal v Rennes @8pm - on paper this draw against a midtable French team looked like a great opportunity for the Gunners to progress to the quarter-finals but after losing the first leg 3-1, they face an uphill task. Manager Unai Emery has a fantastic record in the competition, winning it three years in a row whilst at Sevilla so if anyone can turn it round then it's him. It's also Arsenal's only chance of silverware this season but is that more important than a top-four finish?

FA Women's Super League
Arsenal v Bristol City @730pm - with tickets for the above not available to non-members, this is the only other game in the London area. Being played at Boreham Wood, the Gunners' women's team are very much in the race to become league champions. At the time of writing they're second, two points behind Manchester City but with two games in hand. Bristol City are in the top five themselves but they'll do well to avoid defeat

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Friday 15 March

Peter Butcher Memorial Trophy
Barkingside v Sporting Bengal United @745pm - two East End clubs meet for a bit of cup football at Cricklefield in the day's only game. The 'Side are always welcoming to new visitors so get yourself down there - Seven Kings is the nearest station

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Saturday 16 March

FA Cup Quarter-Final
Watford v Crystal Palace @1215pm  - the game of the day takes place at Vicarage Road where two of our local clubs do battle for a place in the semi-finals which these days are played at Wembley. Neither side have ever won the FA Cup but both have made the final - Palace as recently as 2016 after beating Watford in the semi-finals. The Hornets are favourites to win here - they have home advantage and have won both league matches between the sides this season. Unsurprisingly it's sold out

Premier League
West Ham United v Huddersfield Town @3pm - with the Hammers past the all-important 38-point mark and Huddersfield 16 points adrift of safety at the bottom, there isn't a huge amount riding on this game. West Ham suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat at struggling Cardiff on Saturday to make sure they can't quite take their collective feet off the gas just yet but they should have too much for Huddersfield who have won only three times all season. A few tickets are still available to non-members

Championship
Brentford v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - the Bees' great run of results continued with a superb 2-1 away win at Middlesbrough on Saturday. The result lifted them to 12th, only six points away from the play-off places. In a division as crazy as the Championship, with 11 games to go anything is possible. West Brom have, generally speaking, had a pretty good season so there was shock around the country when news filtered through on Saturday evening that manager Darren Moore had been sacked. Although winless in three, they're still in fourth so it seemed like a very strange decision indeed. Games between these two have been few and far between in recent years - Brentford haven't played the Baggies at Griffin Park since 1998 when they won 3-0 in a cup game

FA Trophy Semi-Final First Leg
Leyton Orient v AFC Telford United @3pm - after winning their huge match against Wrexham to go top of the National League, the O's continue their push for the non-league double with another big game at Brisbane Road. Remember, the final of this competition is played at Wembley so both these clubs are just two legs away from a prestigious trip to the national stadium. Telford play a level below Orient so will start as underdogs but Brackley Town from the same division managed to win the competition last season so it can be done

National League South
Welling United v Woking @3pm - with away wins at Harrow Borough and Wealdstone over the last few days, it's been a great week for the Wings. Now up in third, this match against joint leaders Woking is even bigger than it was before. With only one team going up automatically both these sides should be well motivated to get the points

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Metropolitan Police v Kings Langley @3pm  - the Met kept up their improbable title push with a 4-2 win over Wimborne on Saturday. The Surrey club are only four points behind new leaders Weymouth who unseated long-term top dogs Taunton on Saturday. Kings Langley have been playing well for a while too and moved into the top six with a very impressive 2-1 win at Salisbury who are also amongst the leading pack. It's deliciously tight in this division, so this game could prove to be highly significant

Bostik League South Central Division
Uxbridge v Hanwell Town @3pm - there really isn't anything truly outstanding taking place in the eighth tier this week but this west London derby should be worth a watch. Neither side have a huge amount to play for which means the pressure's off and it could produce a decent game

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Walton & Hersham v Sutton Common Rovers @3pm -there's not a great selection of games in the ninth tier either but this match could prove to be important in the battle to see who ultimately claims the CCL title. SCR are top at the moment but Chertsey are only a point behind with five games in hand - in other words, this is a must win game for the visitors

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Meridian VP v Bridon Ropes @3pm - there might be other more important matches on in the 10th tier but this groundshare derby between two south-east London clubs very much in the shadow of Charlton Athletic is always worth a mention. The hosts have had a terrible season and are currently bottom so the smart money is on the 'visitors' who have an outside shot at the title
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Sunday 17 March

FA Cup Quarter-Final
Millwall v Brighton & Hove Albion @2pm - sitting just above the Championship relegation zone, the Lions are the lowest ranked team left in the competition. In Premier League strugglers Brighton at home, they've got one of the best draws possible. The game should prove a welcome distraction for both as they attempt to stave off the drop in their respective divisions. Both have made it to the final before but neither have won it. Given Millwall are at home and beat Everton in the fourth round, they've got a great chance to progress. Tickets have sold out

Premier League
Fulham v Liverpool @215pm - there's another big game at Craven Cottage where Fulham are entering the last-chance saloon when comes to staying up this season. After losing at Leicester on Saturday, Scott Parker's side are now 13 points adrift of safety with eight games to go. In reality you and I both know it's all over for them but if they were to win here who knows what effect it would have. Liverpool are still in the hunt for the title and, at the time of writing, a win here could put them top. Tickets have sold out

FA Vase Semi-Final, First Leg
Cray Valley PM v Canterbury City @3pm - your only other option on Sunday is this hugely important game for two ninth-tier clubs. Like Leyton Orient above, CVPM are now only two legs away from a Wembley final. The south-east London side have never been this far in the competition and getting to the last two would be a massive achievement in a competition recently dominated by clubs from the north east. The hosts are also going for the Southern Counties East League title so it could be a truly memorable season (it's also their centenary year). Canterbury are also in the SCEFL but are 26 points behind and lost 2-0 on their last visit to Badgers Sports Ground in January. Interestingly, Cray Valley have a forward line of Kevin Lisbie and Gavin Tomlin that is absolutely steeped in EFL experience so it's no wonder they're doing so well. Tickets are available on the gate with none on sale in advance so arrive early to beat the queues

A bit further afield
If you want to tick Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park off your list then you could do it while watching Reading host Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the women's FA Cup. The Royals play in the division above the Red Devils so should start as favourites but Casey Stoney's side have been impressive this year and will more than fancy their chances



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 or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

TLFG: 4-10 March 2019

Greetings one and all and welcome to this week's TLFG.

I'm going to keep my pre-amble brief this week as I've got to go to work (hurray I hear you cry).

One of the highlights of my week was a fine home win for QPR over Leeds United on Tuesday which ended a lengthy losing run and got us up to 42 points at long last. Normal service got resumed on Saturday, however, when we lost the derby at Brentford 3-0.

Talking of the Bees, their B team thrashed Barnet in the Middlesex Senior Cup to ensure they will host Harrow Borough in the final at Griffin Park in April - a huge occasion for my favourite non-league club.

After beating play-off rivals Poole Town last weekend, the Boro outdid themselves on Saturday by defeating league leaders Taunton Town 1-0 at Earlsmead to stay firmly in the race to go up.

If you live in the Harrow area and are yet to explore the world of non-league football, get yourself down to Boro who are fielding what I would argue are the best side in a generation.

Steve Baker's side have another cup semi-final on Tuesday so it could be a season to remember for the Reds.

After a few weeks on their travels, our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' have paid a visit to one of our local clubs.

North London club Hadley are pushing hard for the Spartan South Midlands League title - check out the video of their visit to the recent game against Wembley.


Lastly this week, many thanks to Christer S who donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund this week. I really really appreciate it.

To recap, I recently received the news that my Dad has lung cancer. This condition also claimed the lives of my Mum and grandfather so with me powerless to do anything medically to help him, I've decided to ask for all donations to this blog to go to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which you can contribute to through the fundraising page I've set up. 

Anyway, enough about me - enjoy your football and keep in touch.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include action in the Europa League, Premier League, EFL and loads of action in our local non-league competitions. There are also some eye-catching U23 matches too.

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 - magenta 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, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 4 March

Premier League 2
The week gets underway with a selection of U23 matches with two at the elite PL2 level. Arsenal host Swansea City at Boreham Wood where it's usually free entry and West Ham United take on Blackburn Rovers at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground where there is usually a small entry fee - not more than £5

Professional Development League
With both of the games above taking place in the evening, you can easily combine them with one of the PDL U23 games which kick-off in the afternoon. What's more, the game at Watford is being played at Vicarage Road. Crystal Palace were set to play a match at Selhurst Park but this has now been switched to their training ground

Bostik League Premier Division
Carshalton Athletic v Harlow Town @745pm - the Robins have made a very solid return to seventh-tier football and a play-off place is still just about within their grasp. Harlow are battling relegation so it's an important game for both

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Tuesday 5 March

Friendly
Brentford B v Malmo XI @745pm - the Bees' second string have arranged another attractive friendly against European opposition. This is being played at Griffin Park and entry is free

Professional Development League
Millwall v Crewe Alexandra @2pm - if you've never been to The Den, this is your chance as the young Lions host their counterparts from Crewe in this U23 game

London Senior Cup Semi-Final
Harrow Borough v Welling United @745pm - having already qualified for the Middlesex Senior Cup Final against Brentford B, Harrow will also meet the Griffin Park club in the final of this competition if they can beat National League South side Welling here. On paper, the Wings should win but with a promotion battle on their hands they could conceivably rest one or two players

Bostik League Premier Division
AFC Hornchurch v Wingate & Finchley @745pm - the Urchins got promoted from the North Division last season and haven't quite managed to get clear of the relegation places. Wingate have been struggling for a while now but picked up a priceless away win at Kingstonian on Saturday to give them a fighting chance of staying up

Combined Counties League Premier Division
CB Hounslow United v Chertsey Town @745pm - the visitors created club history last weekend by making it to the semi-finals of the FA Vase meaning they are just two legs away from a Wembley final in May. As a result of this great cup run, Dave Anderson's side have a number of games in hand which if won will put them well clear at the top of the league. CB Hounslow are currently bottom so a return to the top looks very likely indeed for the Curfews

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Wednesday 6 March

Essex Senior League
Sporting Bengal United v Stansted @745pm - the pick of the day's games would appear to be this ninth-tier match at the Mile End Stadium where Sporting welcome the current league leaders for a game which could have a huge bearing on who wins the title

A bit further afield
There isn't a great amount of football in the capital on Wednesday so I've filled out the match map with a number of games taking place in the Home Counties with the most notable being the Evo-Stik League game between Hitchin Town and Tamworth at Top Field - a venue which is very popular with groundhoppers
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Thursday 7 March

Europa League
Chelsea v Dynamo Kiev @8pm - with the competition down to its last 16 teams, things are starting to get serious. The Blues won this competition in 2013 and are the bookies' favourites to win it this year too. The visitors, on the other hand, are 100-1 outsiders so should be seen off here without too much difficulty. Adult tickets for this are being sold at a flat rate of £25 and are on general sale now

Middlesex County League Premier Division
Pitshanger Dynamo v CB Hounslow United Reserves @745pm - if a trip to Stamford Bridge isn't for you then some 11th-tier action might be more to your liking. Pitshanger, from Ealing, have been chasing the MCFL title all season but are four points adrift of leaders St Panteleimon as we approach the final few games of the season. The visitors are also in the top five so should be tough opponents. Pitshanger play their home games at Bostik League club Hanwell Town so the facilities are better than most clubs at this level

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Friday 8 March

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Witham Town @745pm - the Millers' hopes of winning the divisional title would seem to now have ended but they're still in fourth and pretty much certain of a play-off spot. On Friday they welcome fellow Essex club Witham who have struggled this season and should be beaten

A bit further afield
If you're prepared to travel beyond the M25, the U23 game of the day sees Chelsea host Manchester City at Aldershot Town. It kicks-off at 7pm and adult tickets are £3.

There's also an U18 international between England and Wales at Slough Town - tickets are £5 for adults.

If you want to see some senior football and don't mind putting in a few more miles then there are important EFL games at Norwich City and Coventry City. There are trains back to London after both games so it is possible to do by public transport

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Saturday 9 March

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Brighton & Hove Albion @1230pm  - there is only one Premier League game in London on Saturday and it's an important one between two huge rivals. Palace notched up another impressive away win at Burnley on Saturday to move eight points clear of the relegation zone. Although still five points short of the magic 38-point mark that usually keeps sides up, you'd think that threshold might be a bit lower this year. However, complacency is a terrible thing and Brighton are a side in need of points. The reverse fixture in December ended in a 3-1 win for the Albion but the Sussex club have only won once at Selhurst Park since 1985 so the smart money would seem to be on Roy Hodgson's side - unsurprisingly it is sold out

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Stoke City @3pm - both of these former Premier League sides have been pretty underwhelming this season. After the highs of beating Leeds in midweek, QPR returned to their losing ways in time for the derby at Brentford where they comprehensively lost 3-0. While this defeat was being suffered, Stoke managed to beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 to leapfrog the R's meaning this game should be pretty closely fought. Worryingly for Rangers, Stoke are unbeaten in five against QPR so they seem to be becoming a bit of a bogey team. Tickets are available to non-members

League One
Charlton Athletic v Portsmouth @530pm - the match of the day in the third tier is this late kick-off between two promotion contenders, both of whom were top-flight clubs not all that long ago. If you're a neutral who's managed to get a ticket for the Palace game above, then you can easily combine it with this one. More realistically, it can also be combined with the Bridon Ropes SCEFL match taking place a short walk away. Tickets are available to non-members
AFC Wimbledon v Doncaster Rovers @3pm - the Dons picked up a point at Shrewsbury on Saturday but are still bottom, nine points adrift of safety. Things aren't likely to get any easier here as Doncaster are a top-six club and gave Crystal Palace a good game in the last round of the FA Cup. Tickets are available to non-members

National League
Leyton Orient v Wrexham @1235pm - the two biggest clubs in non-league football meet for what should be a blockbuster clash at Brisbane Road. Welsh club Wrexham are currently top, five points ahead of third placed Orient. However, the hosts have two games in hand so it's desperately tight. Given that both clubs average crowds of over 5,000 there should be well in excess of that for this one. Tickets do seem to still be available to non-members and I would recommend buying in advance. The early kick-off means you should be able to combine it with a number of other games on that side of town

National League South
Wealdstone v Welling United @3pm - after playing Harrow on Tuesday, the Wings have to make another trip to this part of town on Saturday for a crucial match against a side who are fighting hard to join them in the play-off places

Bostik League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Dorking Wanderers @3pm  - my match of choice in the seventh tier is of great importance at both ends of the table. As mentioned above, Wingate are scrapping for every point they can get to stay up. The visitors, on the other hand, have become one of the surprise packages of the season and with an 11-point lead at the top look almost certain to win the league

Bostik League South East Division
Cray Wanderers v Horsham @3pm - in the eighth tier we have a top-two clash at Hayes Lane. The hosts have been top for a long time and their 13-point advantage over second placed Horsham will almost certainly be enough for them to go up. If it's not already over, this match could well be a title decider

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Oxhey Jets v Hadley @3pm - the visitors are in at least a three-way fight with Tring Athletic and Biggleswade FC for the title. This match at eighth place Oxhey should be a good test of their credentials

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Erith & Belvedere v Stansfeld @3pm - the Deres have had a tough few years which have seen them suffer two relegations to end up in the 10th tier. Although currently in fourth, they have five games in had on leaders Welling Town so could be worth keeping an eye on in the closing stages
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Sunday 10 March

Premier League
Chelsea v Wolverhampton Wanderers @205pm - few would have predicted that these two would be ranked sixth and seventh coming into this match but that's the reality after a year of underachievement by the Blues and a stellar performance by newly promoted Wolves. The West Midlands club haven't won at Stamford Bridge since 1979 and have suffered some pretty heavy defeats in the process - maybe this could be their year to end that run - tickets are sold out
Arsenal v Manchester United @430pm - the week comes to an end with its biggest match between two members of Premier League royalty. Ole Gunner Solskjaer has had a huge impact on Manchester United's fortunes since taking charge recently and they moved above Arsenal into the top four after beating Southampton on Saturday. They also beat the Gunners in the FA Cup at the Emirates a few weeks ago so will start as favourites for me - again, this is sold out


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 or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Monday, 25 February 2019

TLFG: 25 February - 3 March 2019

I've been fortunate enough to have enjoyed a few days off this week which allowed me to gorge myself on not one but two games - almost unheard of for me!

On Tuesday I went to see an ailing QPR side take on a promotion chasing West Brom.

Things began badly with an early goal for the visitors and Rangers proceeded to get steadily worse from that point. However, a second goal didn't materialise and we somehow got level through Luke Freeman and could have even been ahead at half-time.

Another woeful error under no pressure by Joel Lynch lead to the Baggies retaking the lead against the run of play but again QPR fought back with substitute Tomer Hemed winning and converting a controversial penalty.

Steve McClaren's side looked capable of winning it at this point but with around 10 minutes to go and all subs used, play-maker Freeman limped off and we had to hang on with 10 men which we did until the last kick - Jake Livermore scoring from close range after earlier surviving a very strong red card appeal against him.

Ryan Moss goes in search of a fifth goal during Harrow Borough's emphatic win over Poole

It was heartbreaking for the players and extended their losing run to six games - it became seven on Saturday when they unsurprisingly lost at Middlesbrough and it could become eight when they welcome a talented Leeds side on Tuesday.

The run of fixtures has been tough - eight in February against most of the top clubs and a good Premier League side in the FA Cup - so hopefully things will calm down a bit in March and we'll get the three or four points we need to get us to the tally that usually sees teams stay up.

On Saturday I went to watch Harrow Borough take on Poole Town (Charlie Austin's former club) who had recently replaced the Boro in the play-off places.

Steve Baker's side were also going through a dodgy patch so I wasn't hugely confident.

The first half hour was close enough until a goalkeeping error gifted Frank Keita an opening goal.

After the break he grabbed another and Anthony O'Connor also netted a brace as Harrow ran out 4-0 winners in what became a pretty comfortable win.

Credit to Poole though whose heads never seemed to drop and kept going until the final whistle despite never seriously threatening.

For a much fuller report and some great photos visit 'The Grass Roots Tourist' blog - you might even see a cheeky photo of me.

Talking of photos, I switched to a new phone recently (Huawei P20), did a bit of basic research on camera shutter speeds and my pictures have improved hugely - they've even been used on Harrow's website after yesterday's game. What an honour!

Sticking with the subject of Harrow Borough, on Tuesday they defeated local rivals Hayes & Yeading United on penalties to make it to the Middlesex Senior Cup Final in April which this year will be played at Griffin Park against either Brentford B or Barnet. What a great opportunity for everyone involved with the club given the famous old ground will be shut at the end of next season.

It's been great to hear from quite a few of you this week with your comments, questions and updates.

Whether you've been to the Carabao Cup Final or Clapton CFC it's been great to learn about your travels and adventures watching the capital's clubs.

I also received an email from an amateur club in Catalonia who are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year and coming to London between the 5-7 April and are looking for a friendly as part of those celebrations. I've told them that finding an opponent over a weekend could be tricky but if your club are without a game and you'd be interested in hosting UE Sant Miquel then let me know.

I'm back to work this week so there won't be any live action for me.

Lastly this week, many thanks to Bryan and Cat D who donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund this week. I really really appreciate it.

To recap, I recently received the news that my Dad has lung cancer. This condition also claimed the lives of my Mum and grandfather so with me powerless to do anything medically to help him, I've decided to ask for all donations to this blog to go to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which you can contribute to through the fundraising page I've set up. 

Anyway, enough about me - enjoy your football and keep in touch.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include action in the Premier League, EFL and loads of action in our local non-league competitions. There are also some eye-catching U23 matches too.

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 - magenta 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, by day, 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 25 February

Premier League Cup
Charlton Athletic v Peterborough United @1pm - with this match kicking off at lunchtime, it's very easy to do a 'double' on Monday and see two games. This U23 game is being played at Greenwich Borough's ground in south-east London. This competition is coming towards the end of the group stage and sadly neither of these sides have any chance of making progress

National League South
Wealdstone v Billericay Town @745pm - the biggest game of the day takes place at Grosvenor Vale over in Ruislip where two of the top eight do battle. Both sides are in great form so it should be well worth a watch

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Tuesday 26 February

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United @745pm - QPR's hectic February schedule (eight games in the month) continues with a tough match against title-chasing Leeds. After a purple patch earlier in the season, things have gone badly wrong for Steve McClaren's team who have lost seven in a row in the league to go bottom of the division's form table. With three wins from five, Leeds are by no means invincible and Rangers did beat them in the FA Cup a few weeks ago but with morale presumably low, the hosts will probably be overjoyed to get a draw - tickets are available

National League
Barnet v Chesterfield @745pm - after their lengthy runs in the FA Cup and FA Trophy, the Bees have a number of league games to make up. Chesterfield got relegated from the EFL alongside Barnet last season and, despite a great start, have really struggled. However with three wins from five, their results have improved a lot in recent weeks and they're now out of the relegation zone but only just. The hosts, on the other hand, are just above them but really struggling to find a win. It's a highly important game for both and it really could go either way

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Hendon v Weymouth @745pm - with only one win in 15 games (all competitions) the Greens welcome third place Weymouth for another very tough match. In recent weeks Hendon have taken points off decent sides like Salisbury and Merthyr Town and they'll also no doubt be hoping the Dorset side's near 300-mile midweek round trip will take its toll on their players

Friendly
Tooting & Mitcham United v Crystal Palace U23 @730pm - with the Eagles having seen their match against Watford postponed, fellow south Londoners T&MU have stepped in at short notice to make sure they get a game. Adult tickets are available on the gate for £5 - check all the details with the club before you travel as they can change at short notice

A bit further afield
If you're in the mood for a bit of U23 football with a European flavour, head north to Stevenage where Tottenham Hotspur take on Dinamo Zagreb at 7pm in the quarter-finals of the Premier League International Cup. Adult tickets are £5 and can be bought in advance 
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Wednesday 27 February

Premier League
Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth @745pm - it's a big night of top-flight football in London on Wednesday with three games, sadly none of which you'll be able to get tickets for without serious expense (i.e. via the black market or hospitality). Arsenal comfortably beat Southampton on Saturday to climb back into the top four at Manchester United's expense. The Cherries are winless in three and have only beaten the Gunners once in their entire history so a home win looks almost certain
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur @8pm - the game of the night would appear to be this derby at Stamford Bridge. The Blues suffered defeat on penalties in Sunday's Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City so they'll either be really down coming into this or will be fired up and ready to erase the memory. All is not well between the manager and some of his players so the hosts will do well to beat a far happier Spurs squad who suffered a shock defeat at Burnley over the weekend. It's a tough one to call and I'll boringly go with a 1-1 draw
Crystal Palace v Manchester United @8pm - at first glance most would immediately expect an away win. United are in good form and way further up the table than their hosts, historically their head-to-head record is vastly superior and Palace are winless in 12 against them. However, Roy Hodgson's team are on a decent little run of form at the moment. Unbeaten in four in the league and through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, this side drew the reverse fixture at Old Trafford and are more than capable of causing an upset

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Cray Valley PM v AFC Croydon Athletic @745pm - the hosts sensationally made it through to the FA Vase semi-finals on Saturday which means they're now just two legs away from a Wembley cup final. As a result of this cup run they've got a few games to make up on those around them with a win here possibly lifting them up to third

Thurlow Nunn League Division 1 South
Lopes Tavares v Fire United @745pm - there's a 10th tier groundshare derby taking place at the Terence McMillan Stadium in Newham on Wednesday. Neither side are having a great season but with both having links to and fielding numerous players from Brazil it should be interesting

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Thursday 28 February

Middlesex Senior Cup Semi-Final
Barnet v Brentford B @745pm - as far as I can tell, this is pretty much the only senior men's game going on anywhere in the country. For me it's of huge significance as the winners will play my beloved Harrow Borough in the final at Griffin Park in April. With Barnet having league games on Tuesday and Saturday, the chances of them playing anything other than a reserve or U23 side are remote but technically it is listed by the Middlesex FA as a first-team game for the hosts. Adult tickets are £4

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Friday 1 March

Premier League 2 and Professional Development League
Friday has a great selection of U23 action which is staggered throughout the day meaning you'll easily be able to see two games. To make things even better, the matches featuring Charlton Athletic and QPR are being played at The Valley and Loftus Road respectively although you'll have to pick one as they both start at 2pm. Watford have a game against Millwall at Wingate & Finchley's ground at 3pm whilst Fulham entertain Newcastle at their training ground, which is open to the public, at 7pm. As always, check all the details before you travel

A bit further afield
If you're prepared to travel beyond the M25, the U23 game of the day sees Tottenham Hotspur make another trip up to Stevenage to play Chelsea. It kicks-off at 7pm and adult tickets are £5 which can be bought in advance

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Saturday 2 March

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal @1230pm  - there are some big games in London this week but this is definitely the biggest. The 'North London Derby' is always a huge occasion but one that has historically been dominated by the Gunners - they are 19 wins ahead in a rivalry which dates back to 1909. The sides have played twice at the Emirates already this season with Arsenal winning the league game and Spurs the Carabao Cup one. Normally tickets are like goldust but given it's at Wembley and there's a much bigger capacity, if you got yourself on the Tottenham ticket database before the 1 August 2018 then you'll be in with a chance of getting one when they go on restricted general sale on Monday (25 Feb) at 10am
West Ham United v Newcastle United @530pm - if you can't get one for the derby above then West Ham won't let you down. The Hammers have become one of the go-to clubs this season if you want to buy a Premier League ticket with pretty much every match having some availability for non-members. With the midtable hosts having little to play for even at this relatively early stage, the visit of a side with a reputation for 'parking the bus' away from home isn't a hugely appealing one so tickets are available in most areas of the stadium

Championship
Brentford v Queens Park Rangers @3pm - talking of derbies, there's another big one over in west London. With the hosts moving to a new stadium in time for the start of the 2020/21 season this will be the penultimate time these old rivals will play each other in a league game at Griffin Park. Things were looking pretty grim for the Bees a couple of months ago but they've turned things round well and thumped Hull City 5-1 on Saturday to pretty much end any lingering relegation fears they might have had. QPR, as mentioned above, are in terrible form and haven't won in TW8 since 2003. The match is virtually sold out with any remaining tickets available to members only
Millwall v Norwich City @3pm - although not a derby, this match at The Den is of far greater importance and will have significant ramifications at either end of the table. The Lions lost comfortably at home to Preston on Saturday to remain just above the relegation zone so any points they can get here will be gratefully received. However, Norwich are going for the title and need the win to stay top. Unlike the derby at Griffin Park, tickets are on general sale

National League
Sutton United v Hartlepool United @3pm - there are three games in the fifth tier on Saturday with this the biggest of those on offer. The U's lost on Saturday to extend their winless run to three games, falling out of the play-off places in the process. With average crowds of over 3,000, former EFL club Hartlepool are one of the biggest clubs in the division but, although only four places behind, have a big points deficit to make up and will almost certainly miss out on promotion this season

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Dartford @3pm - the biggest crowd in the sixth tier will come at Champion Hill where the Hamlet are routinely attracting between 2,500-3,000 fans through the turnstiles. It's also important at both ends of the table with Dulwich needing a few more points to make sure of avoiding the drop and the Darts looking to make sure of a play-off spot

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Harrow Borough v Taunton Town @3pm - the Boro kept in touch with the play-off places by trouncing a fine Poole Town side 4-0 on Saturday to remain the top scorers in the division. If they win their midweek game in hand, they will be right back in amongst it. Taunton won promotion last season and are five points clear at the top. The Somerset side thrashed Harrow 7-0 back in December in a controversial game which saw three of the visitors' players sent off in the first half. No doubt Steve Baker's side will want to improve on that

Bostik League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Tonbridge Angels @3pm  - there should be a healthy crowd at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium where two of the league's top six fight it out in what is a tight race for the play-offs. With around 10 games to go, most of the top 10 will feel they are still in with a chance

Bostik League South East Division
Phoenix Sports v Cray Wanderers @3pm - firmly lodged in midtable, the season is pretty much over for the hosts but they can play a small role in deciding who wins the title as they welcome current leaders Cray for this local derby. The impact they make on the title race could be minimal as Cray are way out in front but Horsham cut their lead by a point on Saturday so anything's possible - right?

Essex Senior League
Ilford v Barkingside @3pm - not a huge amount leaps out at me in the ninth tier but there is a groundshare derby at Cricklefield where the 'Side will look to get back off the bottom of the table, a position they slipped to after losing at Clapton on Saturday

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Bridon Ropes v Welling Town @3pm - for me the pick of the games in the 10th tier is this top-five clash near Charlton which probably qualifies it to be a derby too. The Boots have been top for most of the season but if the hosts win this and their games in hand then they won't be far behind
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Sunday 3 March

Premier League
Watford v Leicester City @12pm - the Hornets' great season continued on Friday night with a 5-1 away win at Cardiff. The result moved them up to seventh which, given the 10-point gap between themselves and Chelsea in sixth, is as good as it's likely to get. Leicester suffered a surprisingly heavy 4-1 loss at home to Crystal Palace over the weekend which resulted in the East Midlands club sacking their manager on Sunday after picking up just one point from six games. A home win looks highly likely unless the Foxes appoint someone quickly and enjoy a new manager bounce. The last few tickets are available to non-members
Fulham v Chelsea @205pm - with Brentford and QPR fighting it out on Saturday, the other two west London clubs meet for another derby on Sunday. Of all the big club derbies in London, these two are in closest proximity to each other with their grounds just over a mile apart. The Cottagers are second from bottom and eight points adrift of safety but this Chelsea side are in trouble at the moment and could be vulnerable if former Blues boss Claudio Ranieri can really get his players up for it. If you have a previous purchasing history with Fulham then you might be able to secure one of the last tickets



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