Sunday, 19 March 2017

TLFG: 20-26 March 2017

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

Two words ring out loudly this week and for many football fans they are words of dread!

The 18 letters that make up the accursed phrase 'international break' send waves of loathing and boredom through the hearts and souls of vast numbers of supporters. Stripped of their regular dose of action, fans of the country's biggest clubs think that the beautiful game goes into hibernation for a few days and are regularly heard to say they hate the period because there's 'no football on'.

This is as much a sad reflection on the parlous state of the national team, which clearly inspires so little fervour, as it is a myopic view of the fans themselves.

Despite the Premier League and Championship having time off, we still have over 80 games to look forward to including some international fixtures not involving England.

Tickets for both are on sale now
Yes you heard that right, because on Thursday and next Monday you'll be able to catch African giants Nigeria play friendlies against neighbours Senegal and Burkina Faso. All three are currently ranked in the world's top 50 and boast a number of players from the biggest leagues in the world. Both games take place at The Hive, home of Barnet, which is just a short Tube ride from Wembley on the Jubilee Line (Canons Park is the nearest station). Tickets are only £10 so it looks like pretty good value. I'm hoping to be at the Senegal game. Thanks at this point should also go to TLFG reader Steve who tipped me off that they were taking place or I may well have missed it.

England's match against Lithuania at Wembley is the biggest of the week so if you're in town and were hoping to see a Premier League game then this is the best alternative. The cheapest remaining tickets appear to be £45.

Aside from these games, there are some excellent non-league options. With the regular season ending in late April for many clubs, the promotion and relegation issues are starting to heat up.

The latest video from 'Two Men In Search...' sees them visit Charlton

In other news, Saturday saw the line-up for Non-League Finals Day confirmed with Cleethorpes Town and South Shields meeting in the FA Vase final and Macclesfield Town and York City in the FA Trophy. The event is still over two months away on 21 May but tickets are on sale now - at only £25 for adults and £1 for kids, it's a great value way to spend a whole day at Wembley.

Lastly this week, we are lucky once again to have a blog from 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who paid a visit to The Valley to watch Charlton Athletic take on Scunthorpe United. Give it a read here

Right, I think that's it from me. Don't let the international break get you down, get out there and explore another part of what the London football scene has to offer and let me know what you find.



THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next week with international action at Wembley, games in the EFL, National League and several minor league and county cup competitions.

However, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. 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 (white 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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




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 20 March

Professional Development League
Crystal Palace v Bolton Wanderers @1pm - the day begins with a fine selection of U23 games all of which are taking place at the respective clubs' main stadiums. The pick is probably this match at Selhurst Park as it will let you visit a Premier League ground for a fraction of the normal price. There are also games at The Valley (Charlton) and The Den (Millwall) which kick-off at lunchtime as well

National League South
Wealdstone v Concord Rangers @745pm - the best of the non-league action is to be found at Grosvenor Vale where the Stones will hope for three points against lowly Concord in their quest to make the play-offs

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Kingstonian @745pm - the hosts have three home matches this week as they look to push into the play-off places. Five points adrift at the moment, they begin against the K's whose poor form has suddenly seen them sucked into a relegation battle. This match is taking place in close proximity to all of the U23 matches happening earlier in the day so would make for a fine 'double'

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Tuesday 21 March

Professional Development League

Watford v Leeds United @7pm - there's one U23 game on on Tuesday and it's at the Hornets' Vicarage Road ground so well worth a visit if you've not been before

National League
Boreham Wood v Lincoln City @745pm - if you'd rather see a game of real significance then this non-league match a short drive from Watford sees The Wood entertain FA Cup heroes Lincoln who are currently top of the league and looking to get back into the EFL

National League South
Dartford v Margate @745pm - in the division below there's an all-Kent clash as the Darts look to strengthen their grip on a play-off place and even keep their outside hopes of the title alive. Margate are bottom and effectively down already, being 13 points adrift with eight to play

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Cockfosters v Sun Sports @745pm - Cockfosters have had a fine season and will go joint second with victory against another one of our local sides. With eight games to go, the 12-point lead top club London Colney have over them is almost certainly too much but you never know...

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Wednesday 22 March

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Havant & Waterlooville @745pm - the second of the Hamlet's trio of games is the biggest and comes in the form of title contenders H&W. Relegated from the NLS last season, they were top until Harrow beat them on Tuesday and allowed Bognor to re-take control. From a seventh-tier perspective, this is box office stuff and a crowd easily in excess of 1,000 should be present

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Thursday 23 March

International friendly
Nigeria v Senegal @8pm - given its cosmopolitan population, London is frequently used by overseas nations for friendlies. Commonwealth countries like Australia, Ghana and South Africa have been among those to have done so in the past alongside the likes of Brazil who seem to use Arsenal's Emirates Stadium as a second home. Nigeria's Super Eagles also have a strong tradition of playing in the capital too and this match against West African neighbours Senegal should be highly entertaining. The match is being played at The Hive, home of Barnet and tickets are only £10

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Saturday 25 March

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Southend United @3pm - with all the capital's biggest clubs having a rest over the international break, the Dons' match against the Shrimpers takes top billing on Saturday. Southend, if you don't know, is a seaside town just to the east of London so there should be a bit of derby feel to this one. The Essex club are also fighting hard with Millwall to secure a play-off place

League Two
Barnet v Cheltenham Town @3pm - defeat to Notts County on Saturday pretty much ended the Bees' season (if hadn't already). Winless in seven and well away from the promotion and relegation places, there's only really pride left to play for. Cheltenham, however, still need to make sure they get enough points to avoid the drop

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v York City @3pm - the best the NL has to offer is this promotion/relegation match-up. With four defeats in six, the Daggers are suffering a wobble at a really inopportune time. With the leaders starting to edge away and the chasing pack creeping up, they need to be careful that they don't miss out on a top-five finish. York, fresh from upsetting Lincoln in the FA Trophy semi-finals to book a place at Wembley, are in a perilous position near the bottom but are there because they draw too many games. With only two defeats in 10, they could be tough to beat

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - there's a big game at the Beveree between two sides chasing promotion. The hosts, after a great start to the season, are now left targeting the final play-off place after poor results saw them slide to seventh. The gap is only five points and with only two defeats in 10, they've got a reasonable chance of doing it. If they beat title contenders Ebbsfleet then things will look very positive indeed

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Billericay Town @3pm - this fixture has become a lot more interesting over the last few weeks. A casual glance at the table shows you that these two have a good chance of making the play-offs but there's now an added spice to this game. Dulwich, through hard work and some great volunteer-led marketing, have grown to become the biggest club in the league in a relatively short three to four-year period. Crowds average 1,273 which is double what anyone else gets and is a huge amount for a seventh-tier side. Billericay have been a solid Ryman League club for a while and even enjoyed a brief spell in the Conference South but attendances of 300-400 are far more common. Recently they've been taken over by an ambitious new owner/manager who seems keen to splash the cash and has brought former England defender Paul Konchesky into the squad as a statement of intent. You'd be hard pushed to find two clubs with more contrasting approaches

Ryman League Division 1 North
Haringey Borough v Brightlingsea Regent @3pm - after a pretty tough return to the Ryman League, it's really pleasing to see the Borough doing so well this time. The only club to truly play on White Hart Lane, they are massively overshadowed by near neighbours Spurs but manage to keep going. Always keen to try and do new things to improve their lot, they've installed a 3G pitch this season and are up in fifth despite crowds of just over 100. Brightlingsea were only founded in 2005 and have progressed well. Currently nine points clear at the top, promotion looks a certainty

Ryman League Division 1 South
Greenwich Borough v Lewes @3pm - most would now concede that it's become a two-horse race for the title, leaving the rest to scrap for as a high a finish as possible to get home advantage in the one-legged play-off games. Greenwich are currently third while Lewes are seventh. The Sussex club are one of the biggest in the division and were in what is now the National League not all that long ago. Relegated, somewhat surprisingly, to this level last season they are well positioned to try and grab that all-important fifth place

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Sunday 26 March

World Cup qualifier
England v Lithuania @5pm - the biggest match of the week comes right at the end when the Three Lions go in search of three points against Baltic minnows Lithuania at Wembley. Gareth Southgate's side are currently two points clear at the top of a group they should win with ease - only second-placed Slovenia have so far managed to take a point off them. Tickets are still available with the cheapest remaining ones in the £45 bracket

Women's FA Cup Quarter-Final
Chelsea v Sunderland @2pm - in the day's other game at Staines Town, the Blues' women's team face their counterparts from Sunderland for a place in the last four of the cup


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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

TLFG: 13-19 March 2017

Last week I left with you my choice of deciding whether I should go and watch QPR, Harrow Borough or Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday night.

The latter two were playing away from home and QPR were on my doorstep, they were also the most expensive option or so I thought.

After a bit of umming and ahhing I decided to investigate the QPR ticketing situation on re-sale site Twickets.

A lot has been made of re-sale sites recently with the government actually thinking of getting involved to make vastly overpriced tickets a thing of the past. Twickets are, however, different to the likes of Viagogo and StubHub as they only allow tickets to be sold for face value or less. For some reason, QPR are one of the only clubs in the country who have an official relationship with them and it was very much to my benefit.

With the R's in midtable and Tuesday night's opponents Barnsley hardly box office (no offence), there were a number of tickets available for well below face value so with walk-up prices at a staggering £37 I thought I'd give it a go. In the end I landed a seat in Ellerslie Road for £25 including fees. I then simply went to the box office who printed it out and gave it to me. Job done.

The view from my much-discounted seat at Loftus Road
The game itself was also pretty decent with chances aplenty at both ends. QPR opened a 2-0 lead midway through the second half but faded a bit, let in a goal and hung on doggedly through five minutes of injury time for well-needed 2-1 win. 

I can't really see why I'd buy through the box office again after an experience like that so I'll see what Twickets has to offer the next time I'm free for a game.

Oh and as for Harrow and Dulwich, they both lost - heavily in Harrow's case so it turned out to be the right decision in all respects.

In other news it was great to hear from TLFG reader Wayne who went to Brentford on Saturday to see their game against promotion chasing Huddersfield. Wayne - thanks a lot for the email telling me how it went and for the photos. Another reader Simon, a regular on the Facebook page, posted a picture from his visit to Colliers Wood United for the A3 derby against Raynes Park Vale - thanks to you too.

TLFG reader Wayne sent this picture from his trip to Brentford showing how close you can get to the action at Griffin Park
Lastly this week I'd like to give a special mention to all the QPR fans taking part in Tiger Feet Walk 8 on Saturday. This annual walk, which I helped set up in 2010, sees a group of supporters walk to a game to raise funds for the club's Down's syndrome football team - the QPR Tiger Cubs. Apparently we've raised more than £75,000 over the years which is pretty good going even I do say so myself. This year, they'll be walking from the club's training ground near Heathrow to Loftus Road for the match against Rotherham. It's not the most inspiring route so hopefully people will realise that and give generously. I'm working this year but might get out just in time to join them for the final mile or so.



THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Premier League, FA Cup, EFL, National League and several minor league and county cup competitions.

However, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. 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 (white 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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




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 13 March

FA Cup Quarter-Final
Chelsea v Manchester United @745pm - with Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur already through to the semi-finals, the cup will have one of the strongest last fours its ever had once this tie is resolved. Chelsea are 17 points clear of Jose Mourinho's side in the league but on current form there isn't much between them. Truly a huge game, the like of which will bring the glamour back to this great competition

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Manchester City @7pm - if you can't get a ticket for the above and don't want to watch it on TV, how about a live match at the Emirates Stadium instead? The U23 sides of these two meet at 7pm and tickets are only £4 but you must buy them online by 3pm on Monday
Fulham v West Bromwich Albion @7pm - if you've done the Emirates already or it's not handy, head down to the Cottagers' training ground in Motspur Park instead where it's only £3 and you can pay on arrival

London Senior Cup Third Round
Haringey Borough v Greenwich Borough @745pm - it's a battle of the boroughs in the county cup at Coles Park. These two play in the parallel northern and southern divisions of the Ryman League's second tier and are both chasing a play-off place in their respective competitions so it will be interesting to see who is stronger

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Tuesday 14 March

Championship

Brentford v Wolverhampton Wanderers @745pm - the Bees suffered their first defeat in five on Saturday against high-flying Huddersfield but they have the chance to put things right with this home game against Wolves. The former Premier League side have had a terrible season and were in the bottom three prior to their crucial win over bottom club Rotherham. Brentford should still have too much them and could move into the top half with victory
Fulham v Blackburn Rovers @745pm - the Cottagers pulled off one of the results of the weekend by winning 3-1 at Newcastle. They've now put a seven-game unbeaten run together and are just two points behind sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday, who they will leapfrog with victory against Rovers who, like Wolves are also threatened with relegation

League One
AFC Wimbledon v MK Dons @745pm - one of the matches of the week, this game has been several years in the making. If you don't know, the original Wimbledon FC were controversially moved by its owners to Milton Keynes back in 2003. A year later they changed their name to MK Dons and effectively became a different club and started afresh. AFC Wimbledon were founded by disgruntled fans who quite rightly disapproved of the move to Buckinghamshire and set about bringing them back up through the football pyramid. Starting off in the Combined Counties League, they've managed to make them a League One team again this year and will face their most hated opponent at home for the first time ever. The atmosphere is likely to be pretty intense and you'll find tickets very hard to come by
Charlton Athletic v Bradford City @745pm - elsewhere in the third tier, the Addicks will hope to extend their unbeaten run to three games after taking points off Scunthorpe and Walsall last week. The Bantams enjoyed a couple of seasons in the Premier League at the turn of the century and are a big club who have spent far too long in the lower tiers of the EFL for their own good. Still well in with a shout of automatic promotion, this could be a big year for them

National League
Sutton United v Forest Green Rovers @745pm - after their fantastic FA Cup run came to an end, Sutton have a few games in hand to play and this match against title-chasing FGR is up next. The visitors lost their big game against Dagenham on Saturday so will be keen to get back to winning ways here

Ryman League Premier Division
Harrow Borough v Havant & Waterlooville @745pm - the Boro have been blowing hot and cold in recent weeks with some great wins followed by some heavy defeats. While they were drawing 2-2 with Worthing on Saturday, Havant were thrashing AFC Sudbury 6-0 to go top of the table. Managed by former Manchester City and Crystal Palace striker Lee Bradbury, the Hawks are on course to bounce back into the National League South after relegation last season

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Wednesday 15 March

League Two
Barnet v Yeovil Town @8pm - the top match of the night doesn't have a huge amount riding on it. Both sides are firmly in midtable although you could argue the Bees still have an outside chance of the play-offs. However, with only one win in 10 their form suggests otherwise. If nothing else, it's a good chance to visit The Hive if you haven't been already

Essex Senior League
Wadham Lodge v Barking @745pm - the Blues travel to Walthamstow on Wednesday looking to extend their lead at the top to nine points. Wadham have had a slightly disappointing season and on paper Barking should win

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Southall v Baldock Town @745pm - the hosts have a very slim chance of winning promotion this year so they'll need to win here against Baldock who could still take the title themselves

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Thursday 16 March

London Senior Cup Quarter-Finals
Cray Valley PM v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - as I've mentioned on here before, it used to be commonplace for pro clubs to enter sides in county cup competitions and as a youngster I have memories of some big occasions at Harrow. That trend, particularly in London, has sadly died out amongst most of the big clubs so I doff my cap to clubs like Wimbledon who continue to do so. Although the Dons are only likely to field a development side, it's still a great opportunity for a ninth-tier club like CVPM to pit their wits against some pros

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Friday 17 March

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Ilford @745pm - Friday night football is becoming a bit of a thing in the ESL and I love it. It's a great chance for some of the smaller clubs on the east side of town to grab a bit of the limelight when there's little else on. I went to Tower Hamlets v Clapton last season which drew a big crowd and produced a cracking game. Rather than sit at home and watch EastEnders on TV, head down to Mile End and become one for the night!

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Saturday 18 March

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Watford @3pm - after weeks of waiting it seems the 'Big Sam effect' might finally be happening. With two wins on the bounce, Palace have moved out of the bottom three and their fans are daring to dream of survival once again. With only two victories in 10, Watford are just the kind of side they'll fancy their chances of beating too
West Ham United v Leicester City @3pm - the Hammers are in no real danger of doing anything this season now that a midtable finish would seem to have been secured. The 3-2 defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday shows they are still a bit suspect at the back which is something a resurgent Leicester could capitalise on so they need to be wary

Championship
Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers @3pm - with back-to-back home games against struggling Blackburn and Wolves, the Cottagers will be kicking themselves if they don't end the week in the top six. Games between these two are usually action packed with the last five producing a whopping 25 goals!
Queens Park Rangers v Rotherham United @3pm - revamped by the January transfer window, Ian Holloway's side have improved a lot of late. With genuine competition for places throughout the squad, they've produced some entertaining displays and were seen by many to have shaded the 0-0 draw at Leeds on Saturday. Rotherham. on the other hand. must be one of the most dismal teams to have ever played in this division - 21 points adrift of safety with only nine games to go, their season effectively ended weeks ago

League One
Millwall v Bury @3pm - the Lions suffered a humbling 6-0 defeat at Spurs in the FA Cup on Sunday which shows the gulf in class that can exist between the best clubs in the Premier League and their counterparts in League One. It was their first defeat in 18 games, which included victories over three Premier League clubs in the cup, so I hope it doesn't take the wind out of their sails too much. Winning promotion back to the Championship is far more important and Bury are down near the bottom and very beatable

League Two
Leyton Orient v Doncaster Rovers @3pm - after beating fellow strugglers Newport last week, the O's returned to losing ways with an emphatic 3-0 loss to Grimsby. The result leaves them six points adrift of safety as they prepare to welcome the leaders. Doncaster have scored more goals than Orient have conceded this season, which is saying something, and it's hard to see past them winning handsomely here

FA Youth Cup Semi-Final Second Leg
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur @515pm - the U18 sides of these two London rivals meet at Stamford Bridge for a place in the final. The Blues won the first leg 2-1 so will start as big favourites. Tickets are only £5 for adults and £3 for everyone else

National League South
Wealdstone v Chelmsford City @3pm - the Stones seemed to be fading away into midtable obscurity but six consecutive wins have put them back in contention for a shot at the play-offs. They are still seven points behind Poole but if they can beat fourth-placed Chelmsford the belief will definitely return, if it hasn't already

Ryman League Premier Division
Hendon v Needham Market @3pm - it was really hard to recommend a game in this division as they were all pretty similar. I've gone for this one as it features sides who have plenty to play for at either end of the table. Sadly it is the Greens who are fighting for their lives near the bottom and Needham who still have title aspirations

Ryman League Division 1 South
Corinthian Casuals v Hastings United @3pm - with so many local sides doing well in this division, most weeks will see a top-six clash taking place which is exactly what we have here. Casuals have enjoyed superb wins over Dorking Wanderers (second) and Greenwich Borough (third) in their last two games as they've made fourth place their own. With average crowds of 350, Hastings are one of the biggest clubs in this division so it's no surprise that they're up among the frontrunners too

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Epsom & Ewell v Hartley Wintney @3pm - the title race in this division has been almost as one-sided as that in Scottish Premiership with visitors Hartley Wintney on course to retain their title almost unopposed. Twenty-three points clear, at the time of writing, my crude calculations suggest there is a chance they could win the title here if they win and results in midweek and on the day go their way

Essex Senior League
Barking v Southend Manor @3pm - the Blues could come into this match nine points clear and with games in hand on all their rivals. If they can beat fourth placed Southend then it will send out another powerful message to their challengers that it might as well all be over

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Glebe v K Sports @3pm - it's second versus third down at Foxbury Avenue on Saturday. Glebe are seven points behind leaders Rusthall but have five games in hand so it would seem to be theirs for the taking

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Sunday 19 March

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton @215pm - Spurs eased into the FA Cup semi-finals on Sunday but lost star striker Harry Kane to injury and he will, barring a miracle, miss this one. The north Londoners demolished the Saints down in Hampshire just after Christmas and the smart money will be on them to repeat the feat

Women's FA Cup Fifth Round
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur @2pm - the tie of the round takes place at Boreham Wood's ground as these two old rivals meet in the women's game. It's a shame it's scheduled against a men's first-team game but that shows you what female and non-league teams are currently up against when trying to grab attention (how many noticed it was the semi-finals of the FA Trophy and FA Vase on Saturday when the FA Cup quarter-finals were going on???!!!)
Chelsea v Doncaster Rovers Belles @2pm - there is also a tie over at Staines Town where Chelsea, last season's runners-up in the league and cup, should have too much for six-times winners Doncaster whose best days are behind them

The Varsity Matches
Cambridge University v Oxford University - two of the oldest teams in the world do battle for bragging rights at The Hive, home of Barnet. This is the first time the women's and men's games have taken place on the same day at the same venue. The women's match kicks off at 1pm and the men's at 4pm. Tickets are £10


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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Monday, 6 March 2017

TLFG: 6-12 March 2017

Apologies for the later than normal publication this week - I've had a hectic few days of childcare and late shifts and as I write this at just after 1am, I have a child whimpering away in the background who I will need to attend to very shortly.

After the excitement of Dulwich v Macclesfield in the FA Trophy last Saturday, I haven't seen anything this week. The much anticipated replay in Cheshire on Tuesday got snowed off so the two sides will try again this Tuesday. Consequently there could be a very big fixture added to this week's proceedings if the Hamlet pull off an upset.

The prize for winning will be a semi-final against former League Cup finalists Tranmere Rovers who were a second-tier team not that long ago. The first leg will take place at Champion Hill this Saturday and will be all ticket meaning you will have to buy a ticket in person from the club sometime before close of play on Friday. (UPDATE: Sadly Dulwich lost the replay 2-0 so will now play host to Merstham in a league match instead)


I've got Tuesday off so I've been debating whether to go to the replay up in Macclesfield with a few friends who support Dulwich, go to QPR v Barnsley (a fairly meaningless and expensive option on my doorstep) or head down to Sussex to watch Harrow Borough at Burgess Hill Town (a ground I've never visited before). Which would you go for? 

Last up this week, we're lucky to have another piece by 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who made another trip to Wembley to watch Spurs in a European game. Once again it didn't turn out too well for the north London club but you can read about it all here.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Champions League, FA Cup, EFL, National League and several minor league and county cup competitions.

However, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. 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 (white 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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




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 6 March

Premier League
West Ham United v Chelsea @8pm - the week begins with this humdinger of a derby. The Blues head to the London Stadium as virtual champions elect, with many of their opponents already seeming to have publicly conceded that they appear uncatchable. However, their lead is only seven points and the Hammers have improved a lot over the last couple of months. In fact Chelsea lost on their last visit here for an EFL Cup tie in October - sadly that match was most notable for the crowd trouble which ensued and it will be a concern again here

Professional Development League
Charlton Athletic v Crystal Palace @2pm - if you've got the day off and are going to the match above then you could combine it with this U23 game at Greenwich Borough's ground earlier in the day

----------------------------------------------------

Tuesday 7 March

Champions League

Arsenal v Bayern Munich @745pm - we've reached the knockout stages of Europe's top club competition and unfortunately for the Gunners it looks almost certain that it's going to be them that go out. After being trounced 5-1 by the German champions in the first leg, their chances of progress look slim to say the least

Championship
Fulham v Leeds United @745pm - the pick of the night's other games takes place at Craven Cottage where two promotion-chasing teams do battle for three precious points. Interestingly, the last three games between them have ended in 1-1 draws
Queens Park Rangers v Barnsley @745pm - elsewhere in the second tier, an improving QPR host the Tykes whose results have dipped of late. As a result, neither side have much to play for but that could lift pressure and provide an entertaining game

League One
Charlton Athletic v Scunthorpe United @745pm - the Addicks are struggling at the moment and have gone eight without a win. On Tuesday they welcome title contenders Scunthorpe, however, the Iron have seen their form collapse of late and are on a seven-game winless streak themselves so are definitely vulnerable

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Stoke City @7pm - if you couldn't get a ticket to see the first team on Monday, then you can check out a game at the Hammers' new London Stadium home the following evening as the U23 sides of these clubs go head-to-head. Please be aware that you must by tickets in advance and none will be available on arrival

Ryman League Premier Division
Hendon v Billericay Town @745pm - the Greens are in desperate need of points to avoid relegation and on Tuesday they welcome an Essex club who have made a lot of headlines over the last week. Following the involvement of a new investor, Billericay have announced ambitious plans to climb the divisions and pulled off the coup of enticing former England defender Paul Konchesky to sign for them a couple of days ago. With average crowds of 361, many are convinced it will end in tears...

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Wednesday 8 March

Ryman League Division 1 South
Cray Wanderers v Herne Bay @745pm - the top match of the night doesn't have a huge amount going for it. Both sides are solidly in midtable and have little to play for. If you're looking for a reason to go, the fact that Cray are believed to be the oldest club in London could be worth the trip to Bromley

Combined Counties Premier Division
Colliers Wood United v Raynes Park Vale @730pm - elsewhere over on the south-west side of town we've got the A3 derby to look forward to. Neither side are having a great campaign, with Vale second bottom and battling relegation

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Saturday 11 March

FA Cup Quarter-Final
Arsenal v Lincoln City @530pm - the nation's premier cup competition is down to its last eight teams and sensationally we've been handed a tie between the most successful club in the history of the competition and a non-league side. To get this far, the Imps have had to see off Guiseley, Altrincham, Oldham Athletic, Ipswich Town, Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnley - including replays they've had to play a total of eight matches to get this far. No-one gives them a chance of causing an upset here but who knows? They're actually unbeaten in three against the Gunners, winning two and scoring seven in the process - however, the last match was 102 years ago and a lot has changed!

Championship
Brentford v Huddersfield Town @3pm - with no Premier League games taking place in London, the next best game is this one at Griffin Park. The Bees have blown hot and cold of late and are nestled snugly into midtable pretty much certain of another season in the second tier next season. Visitors Huddersfield are one of the main contenders for promotion this season but have had a disappointing week which has seen them take one point from two league games and get thrashed by Manchester City in the FA Cup. They are still a formidable outfit though and should be well worth a watch - several TLFG readers have told me they're going to this so I hope to get some photos

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Northampton Town @3pm - as with many teams at this time of year, pride is about all there is left to play for. The play-off dream for both these sides is now over and relegation too looks unlikely. As I said for the QPR game above, with the pressure off, we could just see a good game of football
Charlton Athletic v Walsall @3pm - the same can almost be said about this game but for the fact that the hosts are on a worrying run of bad form. Being only six points above the relegation zone, it won't take much for the Addicks to get dragged into a dog fight so they need to start picking up wins

League Two
Barnet v Crawley Town @3pm - the Bees were having a decent go at landing an unlikely place in the play-offs but a spell of four games without a win seems to have put paid to that. Crawley are in pretty much the same boat in lower midtable so as with several of the above, not much to play for
Leyton Orient v Grimsby Town @3pm - the focus in League Two, from a London perspective, will now almost entirely be on the O's and their battle to avoid relegation and financial meltdown. Things have gone disastrously both on and off the pitch since their Italian owner took over but they picked up a crucial 4-0 win at fellow strugglers Newport on Saturday to give them hope

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Forest Green Rovers @3pm - the match of the weekend in the fifth tier is undoubtedly this top four clash at Victoria Road. The last week has seen the Daggers suffer back-to-back defeats against Maidstone and Gateshead allowing FGR to leapfrog them and become Lincoln's nearest challengers. Another defeat against one of their main rivals could effectively rule them out of the title race

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Hungerford Town @3pm - the Beavers seem to be running out of steam at just the wrong time. Having topped the league early in the season, they've now dropped to seventh some eight points adrift of the play-off places. Hungerford are just above them in the table so must be beaten

Ryman League Premier Division
Staines Town v Tonbridge Angels @3pm - the Swans recently went on a superb three-game winning run which saw them score nine and concede none. On Saturday they kept another clean sheet as they drew with Merstham. Sadly, a top-five place looks out of their reach but they should be able to give promotion-chasing Tonbridge a run for their money

Ryman League Division 1 South
Greenwich Borough v Corinthian Casuals @3pm - as mentioned in previous posts, the title race is now between Tooting and Dorking Wanderers leaving the rest to scrap for play-off places. These two are currently third and fourth and with a game in hand, Greenwich could very conceivably still grab second if they win big games like this

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Cockfosters v Hertford Town @3pm - London Colney have topped this division for weeks and have looked uncatchable. However, second placed Hertford could still mount a challenge as they have a game in hand. Cockfosters are tucked in in third but with a deficit of 14 points, the title looks beyond them despite a great campaign

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Glebe v Sutton Athletic @3pm - these two have been among the challengers for the last couple of seasons but have never quite made it. Both in the top four again, the divisional title is still firmly in the sights of the hosts


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Sunday 12 March

FA Cup Quarter-Final
Tottenham Hotspur v Millwall @2pm - the match of the day is this sold out London derby at White Hart Lane. It pits sides who are having good seasons in the Premier League and League One respectively. Spurs will of course start as huge favourites but the Lions come into this on a 17-game unbeaten run which has included FA Cup wins over Premier League sides Bournemouth, Watford and Leicester. They will also be backed by a large and 'lively' band of travelling supporters so shouldn't be underestimated

FA Women's Super League 2
Millwall Lionesses v Brighton & Hove Albion @2pm - if you can't get a ticket to see the men's team play, head over to Fisher's ground in Rotherhithe instead to see the women's side in action. They're still in search of their first win this season and it could come here


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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

TLFG: 27 February - 5 March 2017

Last Sunday I bravely stated that I might get to see three games this week. In the end I only went to one.

I had a ticket for QPR's win over Wigan on Tuesday but after my four-year-old had a really bad night on Monday, I was too exhausted to go to the match (I'd been awake for 40 hours by the time of kick-off) so had to give it a miss. My next possible outing was Barkingside v Clapton on Friday night but the friend I would've gone with couldn't make it, after a late shift change at work, so I ended up on Saturday at Champion Hill.

Despite not being a Dulwich Hamlet fan, I've got an incredibly soft spot for them and visit several times a season. After watching them defeat Braintree in the FA Trophy a couple of weeks ago, Saturday saw them welcome former Football League club Macclesfield Town for a quarter-final tie.

Playing two divisions below the Silkmen, Dulwich came into the match as the lowest-ranked team left in the competition and as such started as underdogs.

A packed Champion Hill enjoys Dulwich's FA Trophy tie against Macclesfield
With over 2,800 packing out the small stadium in south-east London, the match got off to a very bad start for the hosts with two well taken goals, one a howitzer of a free-kick from close to 35 yards, by former Plymouth midfielder Luke Summerfield putting Macclesfield 2-0 up inside 20 minutes. 

Thankfully Gavin Rose's side rallied, pulled one back through Quade Taylor and went in at the interval just a goal behind.

The second half was largely dominated by Dulwich but they couldn't find another breakthrough. It all looked over when the visitors had the ball in the net for a third time but it was ruled out for offside.

With the game into its final few minutes and an equaliser proving elusive, the regulars around me all seemed resigned to a valiant defeat. Then with three minutes to go, a defender's high clearance got held by the wind and fell nicely for the Dulwich midfield who set up the on-rushing Ashley Carew to calmly bend a shot into the corner from 20 yards to earn an unexpected but thoroughly deserved replay.

It's free entry for women and girls at Enfield Town on Saturday
This will take place on Tuesday up in Cheshire so if you fancy being part of this huge night see the club's website for more details about coach travel or get yourself on a train from Euston station.

With Lincoln City, Tranmere Rovers and York City winning the other quarter-finals, the victors will face an incredibly difficult opponent in the two-legged semi-finals which begin in two weeks time.

I'm heading on to late shifts this week so no games for me but before I sign off I'd like to give a special mention to Enfield Town who will be offering free entry to women and girls for their big Ryman League match against Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday to mark International Women's Day - a great gesture.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Premier League, EFL, National League and several minor league and county cup competitions.

However, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. 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 (white 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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




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 27 February

Ryman League Division 1 North
Aveley v Bury Town @745pm - both sides were strong contenders for a play-off place but they've slipped back towards midtable recently. It's not all over for either of them though and with a game or two in hand could still close the gap

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Tuesday 22 February

League One
Millwall v Peterborough United @745pm - the Lions extended their unbeaten run to 15 games with a draw at Oldham on Saturday. The failure to win saw them remain just outside the play-off places but they cut the gap on Southend nonetheless. Posh are just below them in the table so this is an important one

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Maidstone United @745pm - the Daggers are the capital's highest ranked non-league club, challenging strongly for the National League title. After having the weekend off they welcome Kent club Maidstone who many thought could be challengers themselves. A former Football League club, the Stones went bust, reformed and over the last couple of years have enjoyed back-to-back promotions to get up from the Ryman League. It hasn't worked out for them and they're struggling but they're still attracting big crowds and should travel in decent numbers
Sutton United v Boreham Wood @745pm - if you were impressed by the U's recent FA Cup exploits then get down to Gander Green Lane for this derby against Boreham Wood. The cup run has left Sutton with a few games in hand which they need to win to make sure of their place in the division but The Wood have become a bogey team this season - they've met three times already and Sutton have yet to score

National League South
Welling United v Dartford @745pm - although in the division below, this derby is a much bigger deal than the one above and should draw a larger crowd. In recent years, the clubs were vying with each other for promotion but this year they are scrapping for points at either end of the table. The Wings, after a terrible start, have pulled clear of the bottom three but can't relax just yet after going three without a win. Dartford, on the other hand, are third and looking likely to claim a play-off place but they have suddenly gone two without victory themselves

Ryman League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Harrow Borough @745pm - two of the smaller clubs in the division, this won't draw a big crowd but there is a derby feel to this game. Despite their size, Wingate have defied the odds again and sensationally moved into the play-off places after winning at Leiston on Saturday. Harrow, however, are still not clear of the relegation dog fight and were pretty dismal during their defeat to bottom club Grays but they have games in hand and are a match for anyone in the division on their day

Essex Senior League
Barking v FC Romania @745pm - the Blues will have had 10 days off by the time this game comes round but none of their challengers have taken advantage and they're still sitting pretty, seven points clear at the top. FC Romania are fourth but nine points behind and have played three games more so look unlikely to bridge the gap. The last time the sides played about six weeks ago, Barking won 5-2 so a home win looks highly likely again

U23 friendly
Brentford B v Crystal Palace U23 @1pm - you could begin the day with a trip to the Bees' training ground near Osterley Tube station for this friendly. Check with the club on the day to make sure the public will be admitted

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Wednesday 1 March

Ryman League Division 1 South
Cray Wanderers v Corinthian Casuals @745pm - as members of the division's current top 10, both clubs still have realistic hopes of promotion. They fought out a 1-1 draw back in mid-January so it's likely to be tight again

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Friday 3 March

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur @2pm - the U23 sides of these two great north London rivals meet at the Gunners' training ground at lunchtime. I'd be stunned if this was open to the public as games at this venue rarely are but there's nothing on Arsenal's website to suggest this is the case. If you are tempted by a trip to London Colney, please check before you travel to make sure you can get in

------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday 4 March

Premier League
Watford v Southampton @3pm - there's only one Premier League game in town on Saturday and it's this midtable clash. The Hornets are coasting along nicely with only one defeat in six while the Saints are on a pretty dodgy run but they did win their last game and could come into this match as League Cup winners depending on how things go against Manchester United. There appear to be a few tickets left so act fast to secure one

Championship
Fulham v Preston North End @3pm - currently in seventh and eighth these two represent the best of the rest in the second tier. The Cottagers once again failed to take full advantage of the teams just above them losing by only drawing with Cardiff, meaning they're still five points adrift of that all-important sixth place. PNE enjoyed a 2-1 win over QPR to extend their unbeaten run to five games, making this a tough one to predict
Queens Park Rangers v Cardiff City @3pm - neither of these midtable sides will make the play-offs so this is more about the managers who are two of the biggest personalities in the English game. Ian Holloway and Neil Warnock are two of the most outspoken bosses in the country and are perhaps a little unorthodox  in their approaches. They are also both revered at Loftus Road having both led QPR to promotion during their careers

League One
Millwall v MK Dons @3pm - as mentioned above, Millwall could be 16 games unbeaten by the time this one comes round and in the top six. More interestingly is the transformation MK Dons have undergone since mid-December when new boss Robbie Neilson took over. The young Scottish manager has changed an ailing team into one that has only lost two of its last 10 league games as they've moved into midtable. The last meeting between the sides back in August produced a 2-2 draw

National League
Boreham Wood v Bromley @3pm - these two local clubs fought an exciting battle for the National League South title a couple of years ago which Bromley ultimately won. Thankfully for The Wood, they won the play-offs and went up too. They both consolidated at the higher level last season and are comfortably holding their own again this time round with only two points between them at the time of writing

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Havant & Waterlooville @3pm - the Towners looked well placed for another shot at the play-offs but five defeats in their last eight games has seen them fall to eighth. However, with none of the top teams showing any real consistency, they're still only four points off the pace. Havant are currently in second and have two games in hand on leaders Bognor which if won would put them four points clear so this is a big game for both. It's also free entry for women and girls to mark International Women's Day so there should be a decent crowd

Ryman League Division 1 North
AFC Hornchurch v Cheshunt @3pm - the Urchins are having a great season and by my calculations have only lost one of their last 23 league games. Despite this, they're still only in third as they have drawn many more games than the two above them. The visitors are also in the top five and held Hornchurch to a 2-2 draw earlier in the season

Ryman League Division 1 South
Carshalton Athletic v Greenwich Borough @3pm - with Tooting and Dorking Wanderers having seemingly turned the title contest into a two-horse race, it's all about the battle for third with these two the next in the table. The Robins won the reciprocal fixture 2-0 but with Greenwich in better form they should start as marginal favourites
----------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday 5 March

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton @130pm - if Spurs beat Stoke they could come into this game as second in the table. The Toffees are on a very tidy nine game unbeaten run which has lifted them to seventh at the time of writing. The match between the sides at Goodison Park in August ended in a 1-1 draw and I doubt there'll be much between the teams here

FA Women's Premier League Cup semi-final
Charlton Athletic v Blackburn Rovers @2pm - the FA WPL effectively forms the third tier of the women's game in this country with parallel Northern and Southern divisions. This match, being played in Thamesmead, pits the team who are currently third in the south against the leaders of the north so this should be a decent contest


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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

TLFG: 20-26 February 2017

As someone who likes to champion the non-league game and FA cup competitions, it's been quite a week both locally and nationally.

The top story was definitely National League Lincoln City's shock 1-0 FA Cup win over Premier League Burnley at Turfmoor on Saturday. Elsewhere, Millwall claimed their third Premier League scalp of the season as they grabbed a late winner against Leicester City to also make the quarter-finals.

Of the big boys, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur made comfortable progress while Manchester City were held at Huddersfield.

But perhaps the biggest story of all could take place tomorrow when Sutton United, another National League side, look to cause one of the biggest upsets in FA Cup history when they host Arsenal live on TV (BBC One, 755pm). 

The ticket deal of the week is to be found at Charlton
It was also FA Vase quarter-final weekend where London's last remaining club Southall finally bowed out at home to highly rated Cleethorpes Town. It was a fantastic achievement by the 10th-tier club to make it to the last eight and hopefully they'll push on for promotion in the Spartan South Midlands League.

With the Sutton game out of the way, this Saturday sees the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy. We're fortunate in London to have two sides left in the competition and both Boreham Wood and Dulwich Hamlet have landed tough but very attractive home ties. As a result, my focus on the non-league games you can watch this weekend is largely dominated by these so I strongly recommend you get to one of them if you can.

Aside from all this, there's loads more great football to watch with matches every day this week including good options on Thursday, Friday and Sunday which we don't often have so fill your boots.

Buy tickets for Non-League Finals Day and you could win some for the FA Cup Final
I'll be at QPR v Wigan on Tuesday and will probably be at Dulwich v Macclesfield on Saturday. Barkingside v Clapton on Friday is also very tempting but getting permission to see three matches in a week is surely impossible??? Watch this space...

Lastly, given the FA Vase and Trophy chat above, don't forget that tickets for Non-League Finals Day at Wembley on Sunday 21 May are now on sale. It's only £25 for adults and £1 for kids to see the two finals played back-to-back. Also, if you buy before the end of February the you could win tickets for this season's FA Cup Final so don't delay!


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Premier League, Europa League, EFL, FA Cup, FA Trophy and several minor league and county cup competitions.

However, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. 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 (white 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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




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 20 February

FA Cup fifth round
Sutton United v Arsenal @755pm - simply writing this fixture seems odd but a non-league team from south London are taking on one of the biggest clubs in the country in a last 16 tie of the FA Cup. The U's have had to win five ties to get this far, beating Forest Green Rovers, Dartford, Cheltenham Town, AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United. The Gunners represent a big step up in class but how seriously will they take it? Under pressure manager Arsene Wenger must realise this is his only realistic chance of silverware this season and shouldn't take any chances with his team selection but he often does - anything less than victory will be disastrous

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Fulham @7pm - tickets for the match at Sutton are long gone but you should have better luck getting one for this U23 game at the London Stadium. Tickets are £5 for adults but must be booked in advance - annoyingly I can't find any cut off time on the West Ham website so book online as soon as you can if you're interested in visiting the Hammers' new home

----------------------------------------------------

Tuesday 21 February

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Wigan Athletic @745pm - QPR picked up their first win in six games with a stunning 4-1 win at Birmingham City on Saturday. That result will hopefully push a few more wavering fans towards Loftus Road on Tuesday where tickets for this game against the struggling Latics should be in plentiful supply. Re-sale tickets are going for below face value on Twickets if you fancy a club-approved bargain

League One
Millwall v Chesterfield @745pm - from a London perspective, the Lions are the team of the moment in this division. Their fantastic victory over Premier League champions Leicester in the FA Cup on Saturday extended their unbeaten run to 13 matches in all competitions. A win over struggling Chesterfield on Tuesday could lift them to fifth
Charlton Athletic v Oxford United @745pm - elsewhere in the division we have this midtable clash. Both have games in hand which may give them an outside chance of making the play-offs but they both need to start winning regularly

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Bromley @745pm - the cheap tickets on offer as part of the Daggers' anti-racism day proved a big draw as they got their biggest crowd of the season on Saturday. However, lowly Guiseley ruined the party by notching an unlikely 2-1 win. With Lincoln creating FA Cup history elsewhere, John Still's side missed the chance to go joint top. On Tuesday they have another chance when they take on midtable Bromley in this derby

Middlesex Senior Cup semi-finals
Hendon v Wealdstone @745pm - we're down to the last four in one of our local county cups and we've got a couple of derbies to look forward to. The Greens and Stones used to play much closer together and be in the same division so these games had quite a bit of spice to them. With Wealdstone now back up in the National League South and Hendon ailing at the wrong end of the Ryman Premier, there should only be one winner...
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Hanworth Villa @745pm - on paper, the mismatch in this game is even bigger with three divisions separating the sides. Hampton, if playing a full strength team, should win at a canter but boss Rufus Brevett (he of former QPR and Fulham fame) has done really well at Hanworth this season and they come into the game on a great run of form

London Senior Cup second round
Redbridge v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - it used to be traditional that most of the capital's pro clubs entered sides in local county cup competitions but sadly it has become a rarity. Thankfully the Dons are still doing it to lend a bit of extra interest to this competition. Although they can play their full first team, it's more likely to be a development side but you could see one or two senior squad members if you're lucky

Ryman League Division 1 South
Greenwich Borough v Hythe Town @745pm - the tense battle for play-off places continues on Tuesday with this match between the sides currently in fourth and sixth. At this level, only the top side goes up automatically and the clubs in second to fifth play-off

Southern League Division 1 Central
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Royston Town @745pm - the Tangerines are having a pretty mediocre campaign but are in no danger of relegation. The main reason to watch this one is to take a look at visitors Royston who are top and looking for promotion. The last game between them shortly before Christmas produced eight goals (5-3 to Royston) so hopefully we'll get more of the same

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Wednesday 22 February

Ryman League Division 1 South
Cray Wanderers v Tooting & Mitcham United @745pm - with eight league wins on the bounce, Tooting seem to be building a real head of steam as they look to return to the Ryman Premier. Sadly they can't shake off Dorking Wanderers who are second, just three points behind. On Wednesday they face a tricky trip to Bromley for this game against a side whose outside hopes of a play-off place could hinge on getting a decent result here

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Thursday 23 February

Europa League
Tottenham Hotspur v Gent @805pm - with a place in the last 16 up for grabs, Spurs need to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit in front of another big crowd at Wembley where this match will be played

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Friday 24 February

Premier League Cup
Fulham v Charlton Athletic @7pm - there's quite a decent selection of Friday night football this week. If you want to see some of the pros of the future then this U23 game at Fulham's training ground is the match for you. A TLFG reader went to a game here a while back and reported that the facilities for spectators were good with seats and refreshments available. It's usually £3 on the gate to get in so give it a go

Ryman League Division 1 North
Thurrock v Bowers & Pitsea @745pm - if you're looking for a game with a bit more riding on it then this Essex derby between sides fighting for a play-off place should tick a few boxes

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Clapton @745pm - alternatively if atmosphere is what you're after then, ironically, this ninth-tier game could well provide the most as the title-chasing Tons with their vocal ultras make the short journey to Seven Kings for this east London derby

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Saturday 25 February

Premier League
Chelsea v Swansea City @3pm - the Blues seem to be walking to the title as the teams below them continue to slip up. Comfortably through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup as well, Chelsea will start this match as strong favourites. Although in the lower reaches all season, the Swans have won four of their last six under new manager Paul Clement as they've impressively hoisted themselves up to 15th in the table. It's also worth noting that Swansea are unbeaten in three against the Stamford Bridge club so any complacency will need to be nipped in the bud by Antonio Conte
Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough @3pm - Sam Allardyce's side face another crucial relegation six-pointer on Saturday as fellow strugglers Boro pay a visit. With only one league win in 11, the Eagles are in terrible shape and really must win here to stop their already shattered morale completely collapsing. Although only three points above their hosts, Middlesbrough are only in this position because they have become the draw specialists of the division (10 from 25) and are therefore quite tough to beat
Watford v West Ham United @530pm - in the day's late game we have a derby between two midtable clubs. The Hornets managed to arrest a worrying run of defeats and should now have enough to avoid the drop for another season. The Hammers were also in a bad way but have fought back brilliantly to break into the top 10. This match is, therefore, little more than a battle for places and bragging rights

Championship
Brentford v Rotherham United @3pm - although in the lower reaches of the table, the Bees look to be safe for another season which is no mean feat for one of the smallest clubs in the division. On Saturday they welcome the bottom club who are 15 points adrift of safety and seemingly doomed

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Walsall @3pm - up among the play-off contenders earlier in the season, avoiding the relegation places is now the priority for the Dons as a five-game winless run has left them only five points above the relegation places. Walsall still have an outside chance of a play-off place so they should start as marginal favourites
Charlton Athletic v Bury @3pm - the bargain of the day is to be found at The Valley where the Addicks are charging a flat price of just £5 for all tickets. It's just as well as the hosts have little to play for, being eight points from both the play-off and relegation places. Bury, on the other hand, are fighting to avoid relegation

League Two
Barnet v Cambridge United @3pm - with four points from two games this week, the Bees have kept themselves firmly in contention for a coveted top-seven place. Cambridge are only just behind them in the table so there's plenty to play for as the season moves towards its final quarter
Leyton Orient v Cheltenham Town @3pm - after the joy of a hugely surprising win at Plymouth on Tuesday, the O's crashed back down to earth with a home defeat to fellow strugglers Notts County on Saturday. The result left them in the bottom two and three points adrift of safety. Next up they welcome the Robins who are one of two catchable teams just above them. They must win this one!

FA Trophy Quarter-Finals
Boreham Wood v Lincoln City @3pm - with Wembley looming for the final eight teams, the stakes are rising. The Wood have, on paper, the toughest opponents left in the competition with the National League leaders and vanquishers of Burnley heading to Meadow Park. The Imps have never lost to Boreham Wood and are looking great at the moment but will their FA Cup heroics prove to be a distraction???
Dulwich Hamlet v Macclesfield Town @3pm - over at Champion Hill, the lowest ranked team remaining in the competition welcome former third-tier side Macclesfield for another massive game. The Hamlet knocked out National League side Braintree in the last round so shouldn't find the challenge of the Silkmen insurmountable. This game could well draw a close to sell-out crowd so you are advised to buy in advance

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Sunday 26 February

EFL Cup Final
Manchester United v Southampton @430pm - the season's first bit of silverware is up for grabs at Wembley on Sunday. The Red Devils will be looking to win the cup for a fifth time and they'll start as strong favourites against an out-of-sorts Saints side who last made the final in 1979

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City @130pm - now 10 points off the pace in the Premier League, the title looks to have gone for third-placed Spurs but mathematically it's still very much on. A win against a tough Potters side won't be easy to get but is a necessity

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Cray Valley PM v Ashford United @3pm - the hosts welcome Ashford twice this week in the cup and league. Ashford are top at the time of writing while Cray are having a decent season back in sixth

FA Women's Super League 2
Millwall Lionesses v Sheffield Ladies @2pm - the women's game of the day takes place at Fisher's ground in Rotherhithe where Millwall play their first home match of the new season



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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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