Monday, 24 April 2017

TLFG: 24 April - 1 May 2017

At this time of year, with the season drawing to a close, emotions can run high.

Saturday was a turbulent one for mine which were put through the wringer as I followed the progress of Harrow Borough via a mobile phone as I spent the afternoon visiting relatives in Bristol.

As regular readers may know, I've been going to watch the Boro on and off since 1988 and although they've spent most of that time flirting with relegation, they've somehow always avoided it - some escapes have been truly miraculous with a 5-1 away win on the final day at a decent Windsor & Eton side in the early '90s being one of the most notable.

As recently as the 18 March, Harrow were sitting snugly in midtable after a solid 3-1 win at AFC Sudbury and another season in the Ryman League Premier Division looked certain. But then it all went wrong as Steve Baker's side failed to win any of the following eight fixtures meaning they found themselves two points above the relegation zone going into the final game - a very tough and long trip to Lowestoft Town.


This week 'Two Men In Search...' review the Ryman League Cup Final

There were eight teams in the relegation mixer at the start of the day and only two places in the bottom four still 'up for grabs' with Sudbury and Grays already down. There were several teams between us and the dotted line of doom who would surely slip up and go down instead of us.

When I logged on shortly before 5pm I noticed we had unsurprisingly lost 2-0 but were 'safe'. However, two crucial games at Burgess Hill and Hendon were still in progress.

At that point Canvey Island had been confirmed as relegation casualties and Burgess Hill were filling the final relegation spot after conceding a late equaliser against Merstham. Hendon were trailing to Staines but their game had kicked off 75 minutes late after the referee had been held up in traffic!!!

With just seconds to go, old rivals but very much friends, Harrow and Hendon were safe no matter what happened in their games and then it came... a 98th-minute winner for Burgess Hill. What the time was added on for I don't know but its significance was massive for two sides from north-west London.

Hendon dropped down into the relegation zone and Harrow stayed above them by virtue of having a goal difference that was just one better. Now we just had to hope and pray that Staines could hold out for the entire second half as a solitary goal and a draw would be enough for Hendon to stay up at Harrow's expense. Sadly the Swans' second half resistance lasted all of a few seconds as the Greens equalised almost from the kick-off.

Nothing further happened and with the game ending 1-1, Harrow Borough were relegated for the first time since the 1970s.

For a season which had included the highs of reaching the FA Cup First Round and playing Northampton Town, beating eventual Ryman League champions Havant & Waterlooville, stuffing Dulwich Hamlet 4-1 at Champion Hill and seeing our star player turn pro with Cardiff City, it ended on the darkest note I've experienced in nearly 30 years of following the club.

Tickets for the FA Vase and FA Trophy doubleheader at Wembley on 21 May are on sale now
With crowds struggling to break the 200 barrier for several years now, I fear for the future of a club which hasn't been hugely proactive in trying to build its supporter base. I know there are good reasons for this but it is an acute problem that needs to be addressed.

What happens to Steve Baker is an interesting question. He pulled off one of the great escapes when he came in two years ago and the football his side were playing less than six weeks ago was more than good enough for this level but can he really be kept on after presiding over this?

I personally hope Harrow transfer across to the Southern League next season so they can make a completely fresh start and play derbies against the likes of Hayes & Yeading, Hanwell, Northwood and Uxbridge rather than face long journeys to Essex and Suffolk every other week in the Ryman North.

Ho hum. In other news, QPR did their best to destroy my love for football too by losing 3-1 at Brentford to keep themselves firmly in the competition to win a relegation spot from the Championship!

Being five points clear with two games to play, their chances of survival look reasonable but a lot could hinge on their next match against fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest.

There was also sad news at Brisbane Road where Leyton Orient confirmed their inevitable relegation from the EFL after a 112-year stint. Sadly there are more problems facing the club than just those on the pitch so the future doesn't look great in that part of east London.

On the bright side, Tooting & Mitcham United finally got their hands on the Ryman League Division 1 South title despite losing at main challengers Dorking Wanderers on the final day. That result meant they finished first on goal difference alone as both sides amassed a staggering 105 points each. I hope for Wanderers' sake that they don't ultimately end up losing to Hastings who finished 23 points behind them in fifth!


The coming week doesn't have as many matches as normal but we've got lots of play-off games and a few cup finals at non-league, amateur, women's and youth level.

The Ryman League play-offs start on Tuesday and conclude on Bank Holiday Monday and include some great games all of which are played over only one leg. The semi-final between Dulwich and Enfield on Thursday should be a cracker.

Also this week we've got another piece from our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who made their now customary trip to the Ryman League Cup Final a couple of weeks ago. The match between Billericay and Tonbridge was played at Carshalton Athletic's ground and produced quite a scoreline!

Right, enough of my whinging, it's late and we've all got much better things to do. Enjoy your week and I hope it doesn't end like mine did.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are 50 matches in the London area over the next week with games 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 National League 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
Grey pin - Bank Holiday Monday 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 24 April

Premier League 2
Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers @7pm - the Cottagers' U23 side play their last match of the season against Wolves. There's actually quite a bit riding on this as they are both in the top five and headed for the Division 2 play-offs. Wolves have already guaranteed a second-placed finish but Fulham could conceivably miss out if they lose this

Professional Development League
Charlton Athletic v Millwall @630pm - elsewhere in London's U23 world, there's a derby between two south-east London clubs taking place at The Valley. These two are the top two in the southern division of the league and also heading for the play-offs

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Tuesday 25 April

Premier League

Chelsea v Southampton @745pm - after last week's setback at Manchester United, the Blues will look to return to winning ways in the league and extend their lead back to seven points. Having seen off nearest rivals Spurs in the FA Cup on Saturday, the midtable Saints should be beaten too

Ryman League Division 1 South play-off semi-final
Greenwich Borough v Corinthian Casuals @745pm - Tuesday brings us our first play-off game of the season as big spending Greenwich welcome CC's whose players, I was recently told, are paid nothing or next to nothing. Borough finished third in the division so have home advantage for this one-legged fixture

Middlesex Charity Cup semi-final
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Hampton & Richmond Borough @745pm - the hosts play two divisions below their opponents, who make the relatively short journey up from the Beveree, so will start as underdogs. Wealdstone await the winners

Capital Women's Cup Final
Charlton Athletic v Tottenham Hotspur @730pm - I'm not an expert on the women's game as yet but this cup seems to be for all senior women's teams in the London area who are not in the FA Women's Super League (i.e. third tier and below). Spurs have already won the FA Women's Premier League Southern title so will want to scoop up another piece of silverware here. With the match taking place at Wingate & Finchley it's on their north London patch too

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Wednesday 26 April

Premier League
Arsenal v Leicester City @745pm - after all the acrimony shown to him in recent weeks, Arsene Wenger has managed to produce back-to-back victories in the league and cup - the latter taking the Gunners past Manchester City into the FA Cup Final. The run to Wembley has given them games in hand on all the teams above them so the top four is still within reach. League champions Leicester were reborn following the departure of Claudio Ranieri and went on a five-game winning run. However, that has now ended and four games have gone by without a victory. Nevertheless, I expect a very spirited Foxes side to turn up and push Arsenal hard
Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur @8pm - investing in Big Sam seems to have reaped its rewards as the Eagles managed a fine away win at Liverpool on Sunday to take them to 12th and the all-important 38-point mark which usually sees teams survive in the top division. Spurs will have been left disappointed by their cup defeat to Chelsea - it will be interesting to see if they can raise themselves and produce the kind of performance that has seen them win their last seven league games

FA Youth Cup Final second leg
Chelsea v Manchester City @745pm - Stamford Bridge plays host to this decisive match in the most prestigious U18 competition in the land. The Blues have completely dominated this event in recent years, making the last five finals and winning four of them - only Manchester United have been more successful since it started in 1952. Interestingly Chelsea have beaten Manchester City in the last two and will probably prevail again having drawn the first leg 1-1. Tickets must be bought in advance and are only available until 4pm (in person) on the day of the match so don't turn up without one

Ryman League Division 1 North play-off final
Thurrock v AFC Hornchurch @745pm - if you want a big non-league match instead then get yourself down to Ship Lane for this Essex derby against near neighbours who finished third and fourth in the RLD1N. In the respective league matches, each side won their home game 2-0 so there is very little to choose between them. Remember, these games are played over one leg so a place in the final awaits the winners

Middlesex Premier Cup Final
Broadfields United v Hillingdon Borough @730pm - there's another piece of silverware up for grabs at Northwood's ground where these two local rivals from the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 do battle in the final of this cup which is primarily for teams in the 10th tier

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Thursday 27 April

Ryman League Premier Division play-off semi-final
Dulwich Hamlet v Enfield Town @745pm - for non-league fans, this tie was made to make your mouth water. Dulwich and Enfield are two of the best supported clubs in the division and finished third and fourth respectively. It's also a case of south London versus north and both sides are in decent form. Both have had some big disappointments associated with the play-offs in recent seasons but only one of them can succeed in this one-legged tie. Tickets are available in advance but will also be available on the night - be prepared to queue, though, as a close to 3,000 capacity crowd will almost certainly turn up

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Friday 28 April

Surrey Premier Cup Final
Banstead Athletic v Worcester Park @745pm - Combined Counties League Division 1 winners Banstead go after some more silverware against possible third-place finishers Worcester Park in this county cup final at Sutton United

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Saturday 29 April

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Burnley @530pm - prior to their win at Liverpool, this looked like being an absolutely crucial game for Palace but a bit of the pressure has now been taken off. Nevertheless, they won't want to take any chances and will want to make certain of their place in the top flight against a Burnley side whose position has become a little unsure after a weekend of bad results

Championship
Fulham v Brentford @3pm - with Chelsea in a league of their own, three other teams are left to battle for runners up spot in the unofficial west London league with QPR and these two vying for supremacy. For many years it was QPR, Fulham and Brentford in that order, then it became Fulham, QPR and Brentford, currently it's Fulham, Brentford, QPR - a position confirmed by the Bees' comfortable 3-1 win over Rangers on Saturday. Buoyed by that victory, they head straight to Craven Cottage to try and throw a spanner in the Cottagers' play-off plans which are still very vulnerable despite a great four-game winning run. Cheered on by a large away following and with nothing whatsoever to lose, I really fancy Brentford who are remarkably unbeaten in their last seven at Craven Cottage
Queens Park Rangers v Nottingham Forest @3pm - if you're a neutral and for some crazy reason don't want to go to the game above, then you'll be very welcome in Shepherd's Bush for this game of some importance towards the foot of the table. QPR have completely collapsed in recent weeks as Ian Holloway has experimented with players and formations perhaps a little earlier in the campaign than he should have. Six straight defeats have seen them slide down the table to sit five points above the relegation zone with two games to go. Probability suggests that should be enough to survive but a defeat to Forest, who are below them, and a win for Blackburn could make the final day very tense indeed

League Two
Leyton Orient v Colchester United @3pm - the O's have been in a sorry state for most of the season and sadly saw their relegation out of the EFL confirmed on Saturday after losing at Crewe. This will therefore be their last home game as a member of 'the 92' - a club they have been members of for 112 years. A dark day for football in east London
Barnet v Grimsby Town @3pm - the other game of the day in the fourth tier is a totally meaningless midtable clash. With the pressure off you could get to see two sides throw caution to the wind and produce a really entertaining game or it could end up turning into a friendly. Really only worth going to if you're a fan of one of the sides or a groundhopper looking to tick The Hive off your list

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Woking @1215pm - if you're looking for a match with a bit of meaning then this game way out east has a fair bit going for it. Saturday is the final day of the regular season in this division - the Daggers have already guaranteed a play-off semi-final against Forest Green Rovers but a win here could see them finish third which would give them home advantage for the all-important second leg. The Cards, on the other hand, are still fighting to avoid relegation and need a draw to make sure of it

Ryman League Division 1 South Play-Off Final
Teams and venue to be decided

Essex Senior League
Barking v Stansted @3pm - the Blues bring their title-winning season to a close with this home game against the Airportmen. The match is of little significance but a win would take Barking's points tally for the season to an impressive 103. This match could very easily be combined with the early game at Dagenham & Redbridge if you wanted to see two games in quick succession on Saturday

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Cockfosters v London Colney @3pm - this could effectively become another exhibition match on the final day of the SSML season as third place Cockfosters entertain the league champions in what is also a bit of a derby

The Arthur Dunn Challenge Cup Final
Old Reptonians v Old Carthusians @3pm - as the season winds down it's become a TLFG tradition to fill things out with some amateur football. On Saturday at Merchant Taylors' School near Watford we see the final of this historic cup which was first contested way back in 1903. Named after the FA Cup winning Old Etonian who proposed it and then died shortly after, it features teams of former pupils or 'old boys' of all the poshest schools in the land. Saturday's game features teams from Repton (Derbyshire) and Charterhouse (Surrey). Why should you be interested in this? Well former pupils of these schools were instrumental in setting up the FA and organising football as we know it. Some of these amateur clubs are among the oldest in the world. Old Carthusians have been in existence since 1876, won the FA Cup back in 1881 and have dominated this competition for most of the 21st century. To top it all, because it's strictly amateur, it's free to get in

Southern Amateur League Senior Cup Final
Crouch End Vampires v Polytechnic @3pm - two more ancient amateur clubs from north and west London battle for honours at the HSBC Sports Ground in Beckenham in the other final of the day. The Vampires were formed in 1883 whilst Polytechnic (originally known as Hanover United) date back possibly all the way to 1873. Polytechnic have already won the SAL title and will be going for the double here

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Sunday 30 April

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal @430pm - the biggest game of the week is almost certainly the North London derby at White Hart Lane. As always bragging rights are at stake but so are Spurs' title aspirations and the Gunners' hopes of making the top four. I needn't write much more as you know just how important this match is

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Oldham Athletic @12pm - I think something to do with the availability of Wembley for the play-offs means the League One season is finishing a week earlier than the Championship and League Two. As a result we've got a couple of bonus EFL games on Sunday lunchtime to look forward to. The downside is that both are of little consequence. The Dons could break into the top 12 with a win here
Charlton Athletic v Swindon Town @12pm - in the other game, the Addicks welcome freshly relegated Swindon. A win for the hosts will see them finish just ahead of Wimbledon - exciting stuff!

Ryman League Division 1 North Play-Off Final
Teams and venue to be decided

FA Women's Super League 1
Chelsea v Yeovil Town @2pm - the Blues get their season underway with this fixture at Staines Town in what is the pick of several women's games on Sunday

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Monday 1 May

Premier League
Watford v Liverpool @8pm - the Hornets moved to the magical 40-point mark last weekend and should be able to coast to the end of the season now. The Reds suffered their first reverse in eight league games on Sunday and will need to win to maintain their hopes of a top-four finish as the teams below them all have games in hand. When they last met in November at Anfield, Liverpool won 6-1

Ryman League Premier Division Play-Off Final
Venue and teams to be decided

Middlesex Charity Cup Final
Wealdstone v Ashford Town/Hampton & Richmond Borough @730pm - another piece of county cup silverware comes up for grabs at Hanwell Town's ground on Monday night. The line-up will be confirmed on Tuesday (25 April). Wealdstone against Hampton would be a bit of a humdinger though and they're already set to face each other in the Middlesex Senior Cup Final later in the month


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, 17 April 2017

TLFG: 18-23 April 2017

So how was it for you? Did you gorge on football over the Easter period? Did you manage more than one game in a day?

Sadly I've been working all week and have missed out on everything, although my teams (QPR and Harrow Borough) have left themselves in with a great shot of relegation as we head into the final games!

This week is again highly important with the FA Cup Semi-Finals at Wembley taking top billing. There are some big games in the EFL but some really big ones in the Ryman League and Southern League which both conclude on Saturday with many of our local sides still having plenty to play for.

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From a personal point of view I'm working early shifts right through until Thursday and might get to see something over the weekend but it's unlikely.

Once again, there's almost certainly more I could put in at this point but I've got to be up for work at at the crack of dawn so I'll wrap it up here for now pending later edits through the week if anything interesting comes up.

Have a great week and let your friends know about this page. Cheers.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are 70 matches in the London area over the next week with games in the FA Cup, 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
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Easter Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Easter 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.

Tuesday 18 April

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Cockfosters v Edgware Town @745pm - the hosts have been the best London club in the SSML this season and with three games to go could still finish as runners-up. If they win this game in hand, against north London rivals Edgware, they'll find themselves just two points behind Hertford

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Hillingdon Borough v Southall @745pm - these two are vying to be the top London club in the division below. Southall are currently in pole position but Hillingdon are only three points behind

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Wednesday 19 April

FA Women's Premier League Southern

Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United @7pm - the Spurs women's team get a rare opportunity to entertain you on the hallowed turf of White Hart Lane

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Thursday 20 April

London Senior Cup Semi-Final
Cray Valley PM v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - both sides are having pretty decent seasons in the league but with Cray playing two divisions below the visitors, Dulwich should start as favourites. However, with their season ending on Saturday and third place still up for grabs (earning home advantage in the play-off semis), the Hamlet could well rest a few players

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Friday 21 April

Professional Development League
Watford v Queens Park Rangers @2pm - there's a derby to be enjoyed in the U23 league but it's being played at the Hornets' training ground so check with the club before you travel whether the public will be allowed in UPDATE: this match will be played at Vicarage Road

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Saturday 22 April

FA Cup Semi-Final
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur @515pm - the cup has made some headlines this year, especially after the exploits of non-leaguers like Lincoln and Sutton, and we're now down to our last four and what a quartet they are. The first semi sees the top two in the Premier League go head-to-head, something enhanced even further by the fact that they're also fierce crosstown London rivals. Spurs haven't won the cup since 1991 but are the form team coming into this one

Premier League
West Ham United v Everton @3pm - the Hammers will have to be at their best on Saturday if they want to avoid defeat by a talented Toffees side who are pushing for a top-five-finish. Ronald Koeman's side have lost only two of their last 10 games and will fancy their chances against a West Ham side with little to play for

Championship
Brentford v Queens Park Rangers @3pm - it's derby day in west London where these two old rivals look to claim the bragging rights. The Bees have been enjoying a fine run of late and have made it into the top half. QPR, on the other hand, have gone from being the form team of the division a month ago to the most out of form one now following five straight defeats. Much as it pains me to say it, home win!

League One
Millwall v Oxford United @3pm - a disappointing defeat at promotion rivals Fleetwood on Monday means the Lions are going to have to fight to the end to secure a play-off place. Currently occupying the last spot, they're well within reach of the three teams immediately below them with two games to go. Oxford are just behind this group of teams but saw their chances of a place in the top six end on Saturday when they came unstuck at Bradford

Ryman League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Dulwich Hamlet @3pm - none of the games taking place in the National League are of any great significance, particularly for the London clubs, so the focus moves instead to the Ryman League and its crucial final day of the regular season. With average gates of only 140, Wingate are one of the smallest clubs in the division so it is a huge achievement to see them on the verge of clinching a play-off place. All they need to do is draw against Dulwich, the giants of the RLPD, who have already claimed theirs
Enfield Town v Leiston @3pm - the Towners have been knocking on the promotion door for a number of seasons and keep falling short. This season they look almost certain to claim a play-off place after timing a storming seven-game winning run to perfection. Former leaders Leiston have been leapfrogged over the Easter period after their results against struggling sides really let them down. They will start this match in sixth, three points adrift of the all important top five so simply have to win
Hendon v Staines Town @3pm - the Greens have been stuck in the bottom four for a long time but have come good at exactly the right time with three crucial wins strung together to put them two points above the bottom four. It really is tight down there with eight clubs within three points of each other - two will go down. For the record, Staines are slap bang in the middle of the table and have nothing to play for
Kingstonian v Havant & Waterlooville @3pm - the K's are one of that group of eight but at the top end with a pretty healthy goal difference so they should stay up. Aside from that, this is a huge game as it sees them welcome the league leaders for a title-deciding match and it will also be their last ever match at Kingsmeadow before they move to groundshare at Leatherhead next season
Grays Athletic v Folkestone Invicta @3pm - the hosts, who play at Aveley, have had a disastrous season and are already down. However, with the pressure off they've become dangerous opponents as Dulwich discovered to their cost on Monday. Here they'll be doing their best to try and drag fellow strugglers Folkestone down with them

Ryman League Division 1 North
AFC Hornchurch v Bowers & Pitsea @3pm - the Urchins have secured a play-off spot but they'll still want to pip Thurrock to third to get home advantage in the one legged semi-finals. Depending on their midweek results, B&P could still be in the hunt for a play-off place themselves come kick-off in this one
Haringey Borough v Norwich United @3pm - the hosts currently have ownership of the final play-off spot meaning it's theirs to lose - a point here against a Norwich side who have just missed out is all that's required to be certain

Ryman League Division 1 South
Dorking Wanderers v Tooting & Mitcham United @3pm - I'm going to break with convention in order to include the biggest match of the day in the division which takes place just outside London at a picturesque ground in the shadow of Box Hill. I'm doing this because T&MU are one of our clubs and only a miraculous collapse against second placed Dorking Wanderers will see them robbed of the title. Although only three points ahead of their Surrey rivals, their goal difference is nine better so they should have enough!

Southern League Division 1 Central
Egham Town v Barton Rovers @3pm - there had been very little to shout about in this division from a London perspective until a superb run of 10 wins from their last 14 games fired the Sarnies into the top five. With just one game to go, Egham are on the verge of reaching the play-offs for the second season running. However, they only have a slender lead over the two teams below them and Barton are a top-three side themselves

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Spelthorne Sports v Colliers Wood United @3pm - there's little at stake here but if you want a bargain, Spelthorne are holding a club day and are letting everyone in for free so if you're anywhere near Sunbury then this could be the match for you

FA Women's Super League 2
Millwall Lionesses v Oxford United @530pm - the Lionesses could conceivably go top with victory here

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Sunday 23 April

FA Cup Semi-Final
Arsenal v Manchester City @3pm - by their illustrious standards, these two are having pretty poor seasons with the FA Cup now becoming their only chance of silverware. The Gunners picked up a very well needed win at struggling Middlesbrough on Monday but overall their current form is iffy. City, in my opinion, should have too much for them

FA Women's Super League 1
Arsenal v Notts County @2pm - a few miles to the north, the Gunners women's team will be getting their season underway with this fixture against Notts County. We're told that the FA are trying to grow the women's game but the scheduling here is absolutely terrible. Even if Arsenal weren't in the FA Cup, putting that competition's semi-finals on the same weekend as the opening one of the women's top flight seems a bit daft!

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, 9 April 2017

TLFG: 10-17 April 2017

Greetings one and all and a big welcome to the Easter special of TLFG.

The coming weekend is one of the biggest in the English football calendar with loads of games crammed into four days, many of which are derbies and/or will have a huge bearing on promotion or relegation. As a result, I'm extending this week's piece through to Monday 17 April so that it's all covered and you can make your plans.

The most action-packed day is probably Monday 17th and the quietest will be Sunday with only one women's game taking place.

The week leading up to Easter is unsurprisingly quiet with Palace v Arsenal the highlight. The Ryman League Cup final on Wednesday at Carshalton's ground also looks good too.

The other good thing about Monday 17th, as has become tradition, is that a number of games in the Combined Counties League kick-off at 1130am meaning you can combine them with another later kick-off and enjoy a groundhop double. So, for example, you could watch the Bedfont derby down near Heathrow and then saunter off to watch Fulham or QPR at 3pm - there are lots of other combinations too.

In other news, it has come to my attention that Clapton could be in real danger of losing their ground. Now for most clubs that would be bad but for all of us it would be a double tragedy because the Old Spotted Dog is the oldest one in London and is part of the very history and fabric of football in this city. For the latest on what is happening please visit the Real Clapton website.

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From a personal point of view I'm working over all four days of the weekend but I am on early shifts so I might get to escape in time to see a game on Monday - fingers crossed.

There's almost certainly more I could put in at this point but I've got to be up for work at 330am and this blog has taken hours so I'll wrap it up here for now pending later edits through the week if anything interesting comes up.

Have a great week and let your friends know about this page. Cheers.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next week with games 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
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Black pin - Good Friday fixtures
Blue pin - Easter Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Easter Sunday fixtures
Grey pin - Easter Monday 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 10 April

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Arsenal @8pm - the week gets off to a great start with this intriguing match at Selhurst Park. Palace followed up their stunning win at Chelsea with a disappointing midweek defeat at Southampton which means they're still only three points above the relegation zone. Next up are the Gunners who made short work of West Ham on Wednesday as they continued their battle to get back into the top four. A physical Sam Allardyce side might prosper against this particular Arsenal outfit and a draw must be the Eagles' minimum requirement

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Middlesbrough @7pm - if you haven't yet had the chance to check out the Hammers' new home at the London Stadium then you have a great opportunity to do so on Monday when the club's U23 side play a game there. Tickets are only £5 but must be bought in advance, preferably online, so don't turn up at the stadium without one

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Eton Manor @745pm - the only non-league option is this east London derby at the Mile End Stadium. Sadly Eton Manor, who hail from the area around the Olympic Park, don't have a ground of their own any more and play outside London

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Tuesday 11 April

London Senior Cup Semi-Final

Metropolitan Police v Haringey Borough @745pm - a place in one of our local county cup finals is up for grabs for these teams. Met Police play in the Ryman Premier, a division above Haringey so should start as favourites

Middlesex Senior Cup Semi-Final
Hanworth Villa v Hampton & Richmond Borough @745pm - we also have a last-four clash in the parallel Middlesex competition. This is a derby but one which Hampton should win with relative ease as they play three divisions above their hosts. Their ground has also been selected to host the final so there's an even bigger incentive to progress

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Wednesday 12 April

Ryman League Cup Final
Billricay Town v Tonbridge Angels @745pm - there's a very significant piece of non-league silverware up for grabs at Carshalton Athletic's Colston Avenue ground on Wednesday as two of the Premier Division's play-off contenders go head-to-head. Given they both have their eyes firmly on gaining promotion, it will be interesting to see how seriously they take it. Remember, Billericay are the team spending big at the moment and include former Premier League players Paul Konchesky and Jamie O'Hara in their squad. I've not been able to find any information on ticket prices yet but it's usually the standard league-match price of £10 for adults

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Thursday 13 April

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Hadley v Tring Athletic @730pm - the only reason this match is listed is because it is all that's on. Hadley have had a stinker of a season and Tring, in fifth, have little to play for other than a possible third-place finish. Still it's better than nothing!

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Friday 14 April

Championship
Brentford v Derby County @3pm - the big weekend of football action gets underway in earnest on Friday afternoon. The Bees have been on a decent little run of late but came unstuck at Cardiff on Saturday. Although mathematically in with a chance of a play-off place, it's not really likely and as a result the pressure is well and truly off, allowing them to enjoy their football. Derby are one of the underachievers of the division, having missed out on promotion several times in recent seasons when it looked like a certainty. New boss Gary Rowett has made an instant impact and they've won three on the bounce but they are still seven points adrift of the top six so a win for the Rams is a must

League One
Millwall v Northampton Town @3pm - a draw with Gillingham was enough to edge the Lions above Southend into the play-off places on Saturday. Given how tight the battle for play-off places is, all of their last four games could turn into cup finals. The Cobblers are in lower midtable and present a great opportunity to snap up another vital three points

National League
Boreham Wood v Dagenham & Redbridge @3pm - there are three NL games in the capital on Friday with this the most notable in my opinion. Firstly it's a London derby and secondly it features the capital's current top two non-league clubs one of which is firmly in the hunt for promotion. The fact Boreham Wood are continuing to more than hold their own in the fifth tier surrounded by much bigger clubs is a great achievement and another midtable finish seems highly likely. Some iffy recent results for the Daggers look to have realistically knocked them out of the title race but a play-off spot is theirs to lose - a bad Easter weekend could see that happen.

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v London Bari @745pm - end the day with a bit more non-league action in Ilford where the 'Side host London Bari in a derby. Prices have been reduced to £5 for adults and it's also free for kids. There will also be a food collection for the homeless - a cause which the club have championed throughout the season

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Saturday 15 April

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Bournemouth @1230pm - for the second Saturday running, Spurs open the batting with a lunchtime kick-off. The north London club are in cracking form at the moment, winning their last six league games and scoring 18 in the process. The Cherries are winless in three but took a point off Liverpool at Anfield last week so shouldn't be completely written off
Crystal Palace v Leicester City @3pm - the Eagles welcome reigning league champions Leicester to SE25 on Saturday as they look to shore up their place in the top flight. Until a few weeks ago this would've been a relegation six-pointer but five straight wins following the sacking of boss Claudio Ranieri has almost certainly saved them
Watford v Swansea City @3pm - the Swans enjoyed a new manager 'bounce' when Paul Clement first came in but that now seems to have worn off as a worrying run of five games without a win has put them right back in the bottom three. Although they got thrashed at Tottenham on Saturday, Watford are sitting very comfortably in the top 10 and should get to enjoy another season among England's elite next year

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Wealdstone @3pm - there's no EFL or National League action in the capital on Saturday so the next best option is this Middlesex derby in the NLS. Currently seventh and eighth in the table, they are two well matched sides whose seasons have effectively ended such is the gap to the top five. Hampton could conceivably still just about make the play-offs but the two above them would have to completely fall apart in their final four games. The Beveree is one of the most popular non-league grounds in London and is fine place to spend an afternoon if the weather is fine, there's also a great old fashioned tuck shop for kids of all ages

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Folkestone Invicta @3pm - the Towners forced their way into the top five on Saturday after enjoying a fine away win at promotion rivals Billericay. On Saturday they welcome Kent club Folkestone who are teetering just above the relegation places. Both sides are well supported so I'd like to think a crowd of 500+ will be present for this important game
Kingstonian v Leiston @3pm- like the game at Enfield, this match features sides scrapping for points at either end of the table. This time it's the hosts who are fighting the drop and Leiston looking to secure third place and home advantage in the play-offs. This is the penultimate game the K's will play at Kingsmeadow before moving to groundshare with Leatherhead next season - if they get relegated as well, their future looks bleak

Ryman League Division 1 North
AFC Hornchurch v Phoenix Sports @3pm  - with Brightlingsea already having won the title and with it the only automatic promotion place, these two are among the contenders to grab the second place via the play-offs. The Urchins have been among the top five for several months now and have guaranteed a spot but they still need to make sure of third and the home advantage it brings for the one-legged post-season games. Phoenix were the early leaders, fell away over the autumn but kept in touch and made it back into the top five recently. With two clubs just behind them, they can't afford many slip-ups in their final three games
Haringey Borough v Bowers & Pitsea @3pm - the two clubs chasing Phoenix for that fifth spot meet each other at Coles Park the same afternoon. Tied together three points behind, a win for either could put them in the top five as their goal differences are vastly superior to the south-east London club

Ryman League Division 1 South
Carshalton Athletic v Lewes @3pm - it was quite a surprise when these sides ended up in this division after somewhat surprise relegations. Both clubs are arguably too big for this level and should be playing at a higher standard, a fact evidenced by their relatively large crowds. At the time of writing, they reside in sixth and seventh just outside the all-important play-off places and should both fight hard to win here

Southern League Division 1 Central
Egham Town v Hanwell Town @3pm - all of our local sides have had a pretty mediocre campaign except for the hosts who have come good at just the right time and are on course to make the play-offs for the second season running. Currently sixth and only two points behind AFC Dunstable, a good Easter weekend could make all the difference

Essex Senior League
Barking v Sporting Bengal United @3pm - many congratulations to the Blues who finally clinched the ESL title on Saturday at Burnham. They've been top for ages so it came as no surprise but they've been out of the fourth tier for a while so it's great to see them back. This will be their first home game since winning so hopefully the trophy will be paraded at the very least
Clapton v Ilford @3pm - if it's atmosphere you're after then you're probably better advised to head to Barking's near neighbours Clapton. Currently second in the league, they play this derby against other near neighbours Ilford who are a top five club themselves. Never out of the headlines for long, the Tons despite having their best season since the '80s could see the campaign end in tragedy as the future of their historic Old Spotted Dog ground (the oldest in London) is looking decidedly dodgy. If you haven't been before, then you really should and this could be one of your last opportunities

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Sun Sports v Oxhey Jets @3pm - it's Watford derby time on Saturday. The Hertfordshire town has the Premier League side of the same name and then these two eight divisions below. Playing to the north and south of the centre respectively, this is the big one!
Wembley v Edgware Town @3pm - there's also a north-west London derby at Vale Farm. Well on course for a top-four finish, the Lions have had a great year and will start as favourites against Edgware who are just about keeping their heads above water after promotion last year

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Forest Hill Park v Glebe @3pm - the visitors are finally back on top and with three games in hand on second placed Rusthall should claim the title. FHP are slap bang in the middle of the table so have little to play for

FA Women's Super League 2
London Bees v Millwall Lionesses @2pm - joint leaders London Bees welcome midtable Millwall for this derby in the second tier of women's football at The Hive, also home of men's team Barnet

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Sunday 16 April

FA Women's Premier League Southern
West Ham United v Lewes @2pm - to my knowledge this is the only match taking place within the London area on Easter Sunday. West Ham's women's team play their games at Thurrock's ground near the Lakeside Shopping Centre on the far eastern side of town

Sporting alternative with a football link:
If women's football doesn't appeal then you could go to the county cricket match between Surrey and Lancashire at The Oval. This ground played host to the very first FA Cup final way back in 1872 so it's worth a visit if football history is your thing. Play begins at 11am and runs through until 6pm weather permitting. Tickets are £15 for adults if bought in advance, £20 on the day.

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Monday 17 April

Championship
Fulham v Aston Villa @245pm - the Cottagers' win over Ipswich on Saturday helped them keep pace with the top six. A place and two points behind, a win over Aston Villa is a must. Steve Bruce's side are unbeaten in five and will be dangerous opponents
Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday @3pm - the Owls are just ahead of Fulham in the table so the R's could do their west London rivals a massive favour or put a big dent in their promotion ambitions depending on how they do here. Ian Holloway's side were the form team in the division until about 10 days ago but three defeats in quick succession have slapped them back down again. Wednesday pulled off a fine win over Newcastle on Saturday so should head to Loftus Road full of confidence

League One
Charlton Athletic v Gillingham @3pm - with the Gills coming from Kent just outside the borders of London this is pretty much a derby. Not only that but both sides badly need the points to avoid the drop. The Addicks are in better shape after their crucial and unexpected win over promotion chasing Southend on Saturday and should start as favourites
AFC Wimbledon v Peterborough United @3pm - over at Kingsmeadow two clubs whose seasons are effectively over (Posh have a mathematical chance of the play-offs) meet for what will hopefully be an entertaining game of football. The ground is small and likely to be close to capacity so there should be a reasonable atmosphere if nothing else

League Two
Leyton Orient v Hartlepool United @3pm - things are looking really terminal for the troubled O's. Saturday saw them suffer another comfortable defeat at Cambridge a result which leaves them 10 points adrift of safety with five games to go. If they are to do the unthinkable and stay up then Hartlepool are the side in 22nd who must be caught. If they do lose and Cheltenham in 21st win then relegation will be confirmed
Barnet v Wycombe Wanderers @3pm - the Bees have had nothing to play for for some time which is a great achievement given they are one of the smaller clubs in the division. A visit from near Londoners Wycombe is effectively a derby and Gareth Ainsworth's side are still very much in the hunt for a play-off place

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Sutton United @3pm - as mentioned above, the Daggers need all the points they can get to make sure of a play-off place and they could find it hard in this derby against FA Cup giantkillers Sutton who, at the time of writing, need the points to make sure they avoid relegation

National League South
Dartford v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - the Darts could well have confirmed a place in the play-offs by the time this one starts but they won't have secured third place which will help their chances in the play-offs. Depending on results earlier in the week, Hampton might still be in with a shot of joining them

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Grays Athletic @3pm - the hosts are currently the top London club in the division and will hope to easily see off a Grays side who are bottom and already down. Clubs all the way down to 10th are still well in with a chance of making the play-offs so the fact Dulwich are fourth is no guarantee of anything. The south Londoners are also developing a bit of a reputation as chokers having failed in the play-offs two years running and coming sixth the year before that
Harrow Borough v Hendon @3pm - not only is this a derby but this game could be highly important for both sides at the other end of the table. Harrow seemed home and dry a few weeks ago but a five game winless run has left them four points above the relegation zone with three games to go. They will have played two more games by the time they get to this one so a win in one would pretty much secure their future. The Greens, however, are languishing in the bottom three but are firmly in touch after their priceless win at Folkestone on Saturday. Harrow and Hendon are old, friendly, rivals and are the only two to have competed in this division without promotion or relegation since the '70s so it would be a real shame to lose either

Southern League Premier Division
Hayes & Yeading United v Kings Langley @3pm - after another season without a ground of their own, HYU are on course for another relegation. The last few years have witnessed a steady decline following the sale of their Church Road ground. I spent the first ever Non-League Day there back in 2010 when the west London club were in what is now the National League. Since selling their ground and failing to finish off their new one, they have been groundsharing all over the place, mainly at venues like Woking, Maidenhead and most recently Beaconsfield none of which are within the M25. Crowds and playing standards have gone downhill accordingly and now they face this massive six-pointer against fellow strugglers Kings Langley who are just above them in the table. The match is being played at Uxbridge and you wonder why they haven't played more games at local clubs like this during their nomadic years

Ryman League Division 1 North
Aveley v AFC Hornchurch @630pm - the hosts play their last ever game at Mill Field with this Essex derby against the promotion chasing Urchins
Thurrock v Romford @3pm - the hosts could well have confirmed their place in the play-offs by the time this groundshare derby kicks-off

Ryman League Division 1 South
Tooting & Mitcham United v Carshalton Athletic @3pm - depending on how other results go, Tooting may well come into this game as newly crowned divisional champions. If not, they could win it here. However, with local rivals Carshalton quite possibly still trying to earn a play-off place themselves, it could be a real battle for the three points

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Abbey Rangers v Chertsey Town @1pm - with Hartley Wintney having already won the title there's little else to play for in this division other than bragging rights and there'll be plenty of those up for grabs between these two very local rivals
Bedfont & Feltham v Bedfont Sports @1130am - other than groundsharers, these two clubs are about as close as it's possible to get with their two grounds almost touching each other. For plane enthusiasts this one's also good because the pitch is very close to Heathrow airport's runway

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Fisher v Crowbrough Athletic @3pm - the hosts' first season at their new home in Rotherhithe has been one to forget. Currently joint bottom, they badly need to win this to hoist themselves out of the relegation zone. Sadly Crowborough are the title favourites and will take some stopping

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Glebe v Kent Football United @3pm - the leaders take on third placed KFU. With only the top two going up, this is a big one


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, 3 April 2017

TLFG: 3-9 April 2017

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

Not a lot from me this week as I've been working pretty solidly on late shifts since Tuesday so I haven't had the chance to see any football. 


We're coming rapidly to the business end of the season, especially in the non-league competitions many of which conclude this month.

As a result there are big games at all levels this week so you should get to see something pretty decent whatever your budget or interest.

Non-League Finals Day is getting closer - buy your tickets today
I was pleased to see the Tooting & Mitcham United community fun day went well with their free entry promotion generating triple the crowd they normally welcome. If you want to find out more about this, a full ground review and report for the game can be found on 'The Football Journey' blog.

For the second week running we've been doubly spoiled with another ground visit from our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game'. Their latest adventure took them to White Hart Lane for the recent Premier League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton which Spurs won 2-1.





Lastly from me, just another plug for Non-League Finals Day on 21 May. If you're in London that weekend and are struggling for a Premier League ticket, please seriously consider coming to Wembley instead. For £25 you get to see the Buildbase FA Vase and FA Trophy finals back-to-back and it's only £10 concessions and £1 for U16s. If you bring nine or more people in a group, then adult tickets are reduced to just £12.50! Tickets are available now.

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Cleethorpes Town will play South Shields in the first game and Macclesfield Town and York City in the latter. There was a crowd of around 48,000 last year, it would be great to better it.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next week with games 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 3 April

Professional Development League
Crystal Palace v Sheffield United @1pm - after a bit of time off, a number of our local U23 sides are back in action on Monday. This match gives you the chance to visit a Premier League ground for just £5 and gives you a great chance to combine it with a non-league game in the evening. Millwall's youngsters also have a game at The Den while all other matches are at clubs' training grounds

Ryman League Premier Division
Kingstonian v Burgess Hill Town @745pm - the pick of the night's non-league action is to be found in south-west London where the K's play one of their last games at Kingsmeadow before moving to groundshare with Leatherhead next season. It's also a big relegation six-pointer so there's plenty at stake

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Tuesday 4 April

Premier League

Watford v West Bromwich Albion @745pm - the Hornets managed to arrest their worrying slump in form with a crucial win over bottom club Sunderland on Saturday, This has seen them jump above West Ham and Burnley, giving them a bit of breathing space. The Baggies have had a good season and are kind of in a league of their own marooned in a strange eigth place that's way behind the top clubs and well ahead of all those below them. West Brom won the reverse fixture in December fairly comfortably but I fancy a draw

Championship
Brentford v Leeds United @745pm - the Bees have nothing to play for but seem to be enjoying themselves right now, winning their last two and scoring seven in the process. Leeds, one of the biggest clubs in the division, are still fighting to make sure of their play-off place and will bring a large and loud group of travelling supporters

League One
Charlton Athletic v MK Dons @745pm - with only one win in 10, the Addicks are hovering precariously above the relegation zone. The visitors are only just above them in the table and present an excellent opportunity to take three points

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Leatherhead @745pm - the hosts have had a significant backlog of games to get through after their fine FA Trophy run and in Leatherhead they face another one. Results haven't been going all their way, however, with a fine win against Billericay followed by defeat at Havant. Consequently the race for a play-off place has become really intense with only four points separating the teams from third to tenth. The Tanners are also in need of the points, coming into this game just above the relegation places

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Wednesday 5 April

Premier League
Arsenal v West Ham United @745pm - there's a very big night of action in the nation's top flight on Wednesday. This attractive derby is still only secondary to another game elsewhere in town. The Gunners' season is now all about getting back into the top four and winning the FA Cup - the latter looks more likely at the moment. For some strange reason, I was under the impression that the Hammers were home and dry and looking forward to next season but they're now winless in six and looking over their shoulders again
Chelsea v Manchester City @745pm - the game of the day takes place at Stamford Bridge where two of the top four lock horns. The Blues were seemingly champions elect until Saturday when for the second season running, they lost at home to Crystal Palace. Suddenly the seven-point gap to Spurs looks bridgeable. It certainly will if City take home the points

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Thursday 6 April

London Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Dulwich Hamlet v Tooting & Mitcham United @745pm - the draw has thrown up a derby between two old rivals from south London. Currently a division apart they haven't played each other in the league for a while. Sadly I would expect neither to field a full-strength team as they are both heavily embroiled in promotion campaigns which will surely take priority

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Friday 7 April

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Brighton & Hove Albion @745pm - the weekend gets underway with what could be a cracker at Loftus Road. With Brighton located just to the south of London, games against clubs from the capital are all effectively derbies. With QPR in decent form and Brighton going for the title, the ground should be close to capacity but there are still a few tickets on general sale

Premier League 2
Chelsea v Sunderland @705pm - a couple of miles down the road there's also an U23 game going on at Stamford Bridge. This presents a great chance to see a game at one of London's top grounds for only £5 but tickets must be bought by 4pm from the box office or you won't be able to get in

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Saturday 8 April

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Watford @1230pm - Saturday's action begins bright and early at White Hart Lane where Spurs should beat Watford as they look to close the gap on Chelsea and keep their title bid alive
West Ham United v Swansea City @3pm - if the Hammers lose against Arsenal in midweek, this game could become highly significant. It's quite conceivable that such a result could leave them only three points above the relegation zone and the Swans will be one of their main rivals when it comes to keeping out of it

Championship
Fulham v Ipswich Town @3pm - after weeks of near misses, the Cottagers finally made it into the all-important top six with a scraped 1-0 win over bottom club Rotherham. No-one has games in hand on them so the position is theirs to lose. On Saturday a hopelessly out of form Ipswich side pay a visit and should be beaten

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Bristol Rovers @3pm - the Dons are firmly in midtable and have absolutely nothing to play for. Rovers are just outside the play-off places so will be desperate for victory to keep their hopes alive
Charlton Athletic v Southend United @3pm- this game should be more interesting as both sides need to win. Charlton, as mentioned above, need to stave off relegation while Southend are currently occupying the final play-off place

League Two
Barnet v Luton Town @3pm  - this is effectively a derby with Luton located just a little north of London from where the Bees play. It's also a big game for the Hatters who still have an outside shot of automatic promotion

National League
Bromley v Wrexham @3pm - the Ravens have been going along nicely in midtable for most of the season but seven defeats from 10 have teed up a slightly nervy finish to the campaign. Still six points above the bottom four, they need to beat their Welsh opponents to allay any concerns

National League South
Dartford v Eastbourne Borough @3pm - with a play-off place pretty much certain for the Darts, it's now all about maintaining momentum to make sure of home advantage in the post-season. A disappointing two game winless run has seen them slip to fourth so they'll want to reverse that trend here

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Lowestoft Town @3pm - if midweek results go to plan then Dulwich should find themselves in the top five by kick-off in this one. Lowestoft, relegated from the NLS last season, are surprisingly not amongst the pack of teams contesting promotion but are pretty much the best of the rest and should be no pushovers. I'd expect yet another close to capacity crowd at Champion Hill (c.3,000), one which almost certainly dwarf several in League Two and maybe even one or two in League One

Ryman League Division 1 South
Tooting & Mitcham United v Three Bridges @3pm - despite recently winning 14 games on the trot to top the league, Tooting haven't been able to pull clear of Dorking Wanderers who lie just three points behind in second. The Terrors enjoyed another win over South Park on Saturday and should win here against a Three Bridges side destined for relegation but will nerves get the better of them???

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Glebe v Orpington @3pm - the hosts, with four games in hand on the leaders Rusthall, are the favourites to win the division. Being only a point behind, they could well go top 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.

Monday, 27 March 2017

TLFG: 27 March - 2 April 2017

So how was the international break for you? Not too boring I hope.

The England game on Sunday seemed pretty dull but they got the all-important win so I guess that's the main thing.

As I mentioned last week, I had hoped to go to The Hive on Thursday for the friendly between Nigeria and Senegal. Thankfully everything came together and I made my first visit to Barnet's new home which I was quite impressed with.

Easy to get to by Tube, the ground is located amidst acres of football fields and sporting facilities and is smart, clean and compact.

After joining a reasonably lengthy but well marshalled queue for tickets, myself and a Senegalese friend found ourselves on the South Stand for a tenner and within touching distance of the action.

Free entry at Tooting & Mitcham on Saturday - what a bargain!

I was surprised to learn that my mate, despite having lived for many years in Paris and London and being quite a decent player himself, had never actually been to a proper match as a spectator and was duly rather excited.

The crowd behind the goal was a real mixture of people - apart from fans of the two sides, there was a core of Barnet's regular supporters, a group of Liverpool fans of largely Asian heritage and several hardcore football addicts the type of which read this blog!

I ended up next to someone who my mate explained to me was actually a singer of some reknown back in Senegal so pictures were taken as a fun night ensued.

With all the terrible things that had happened in Westminster the day before, this game and the united crowd was the perfect antidote and any glumness that was there was temporarily forgotten about during those couple of hours within the stadium.

The game itself, like most friendlies, wasn't a classic but there were some top players on show, we got a couple of goals (1-1) and some outrageous misses so we weren't short on entertainment as most people went home happy. It is also worth noting that Barnet offered all ticket holders free entry to their match against Cheltenham two days later which was a cracking deal and I was very tempted to take them up on it (they won 3-1). 

For a far more in-depth review of proceedings check out 'The Football Journey' - this new blog by a young writer from south London has only been going for a few weeks but has plenty of content already so check it out.

'Two Men In Search...' pay a visit to Brentford

It should also be mentioned that Nigeria were set to play Burkina Faso (BF) in another friendly on Monday (27 March) but this was cancelled over the weekend as not enough of the BF players could get visas so I know there will be some disappointed people. Although there are some alternative games in the capital that day, they are not of the same calibre.

Looking ahead I'd like to give a special mention to Tooting & Mitcham United at this point. The Terrors, current Ryman League Division 1 South leaders, are holding a community fun day on Saturday and are offering FREE ENTRY to everyone for the visit of South Park. Their ground is one of the best the London non-league scene has to offer so definitely pay them a visit if you're at a loose end.

Talking of prolific bloggers, 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' have been at it again and have a review of their trip to Brentford ready for you to enjoy so give that a read/watch too.

Lastly from me - a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that some of my fellow QPR fans were doing a walk to raise funds for the club's team for kids with Down's syndrome. I'm pleased to report that they raked in nearly £13,000 which is pushing the total raised to nearly £100,000 since we started the annual event back in 2010. Well done all!



THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next week with games 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 March

Ryman League Division 1 North
Aveley v Bury Town @745pm - the main draw tonight was supposed to be the friendly between Nigeria and Burkina Faso at Barnet but following its cancellation this is the next best alternative. Sadly it doesn't really compare but if a midtable eighth-tier match near Lakeside shopping centre might be able to fill the gap then please give it a go. One other point of note - Mill Field, Aveley's home since 1951, is to close at the end of the season so this will be one of its final games

Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy Quarter-Final
Wadham Lodge v Waltham Forest @745pm - up in E17 it's time for a Walthamstow derby between two clubs who groundshare. Both sides have little to play for in the Essex Senior League so this could be the only bit of silverware either of them have a realistic chance of winning

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Tuesday 28 March

League One

AFC Wimbledon v Rochdale @745pm - following defeat to promotion-chasing Southend on Saturday, the Dons have another tough game against a team looking to go up. Although in eighth, Dale are finding wins hard to come by managing only two in 10 as the draws have held them back. However, they have a 100% win record at Kingsmeadow and have netted five in the two games they've played there

National League
Sutton United v Lincoln City @745pm - the currently two most famous non-league teams in the country do battle at Gander Green Lane on Tuesday. After making it to the fifth round and quarter-finals of the FA Cup respectively and both being knocked out by Arsenal, these two have delighted and thrilled many neutrals over the last few months. The U's need the points to make sure of avoiding relegation while the Imps are top of the league but only on goal difference and arrive having beaten co-leaders Forest Green on Saturday. Big game!

Kent Senior Cup Semi-Final
Welling United v Charlton Athletic @745pm - over in south-east London we have an attractive derby in the county cup. The hosts play in the sixth tier and would normally start as underdogs against the League One Addicks but given this is only a county cup game, the visitors are only likely to field a development side of U23 players and maybe one or two first-team squad members. Tickets have been reduced to £10 for adults but it should still be well worth 90 minutes of your time if you're in the area

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Wednesday 29 March

Ryman League Division 1 South
Cray Wanderers v Herne Bay @745pm - the season is over for these two with promotion and relegation of no concern for either. Go and watch this if you want to see the oldest club in the London area - Cray claim to have been founded in 1860

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Friday 31 March

Ryman League Division 1 North
Aveley v VCD Athletic @745pm - similar to the game on Monday, there's not a lot riding on this but it's a nice bit of Friday night football and there'll only be two games left at Mill Field after this one

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Saturday 1 April

Premier League
Chelsea v Crystal Palace @3pm - the Premier League returns with this London derby featuring teams with very different priorities. The Blues need the win to cement their lead at the top while Palace have won three in a row to edge out of the dreaded bottom three. The odds are heavily stacked against the visitors but they did win at Stamford Bridge last season so it's not impossible
Watford v Sunderland @3pm - with only two wins from their last 10 the Hornets still can't quite say they're out of the relegation fight. They are seven points above the relegation zone but with sides like Leicester, Palace and Swansea all showing signs of resurgence just below them, they could easily find themselves in difficulty. In this context, a win against bottom club Sunderland is an absolute must

Championship
Brentford v Bristol City @3pm - if you can't get or don't want a ticket for either of the above, the go-to next best option for many TLFG readers over the last two or three years has been Brentford. Playing in a compact, old-school ground with a pub on every corner, a trip to watch the Bees is an attractive one. Given its size, Griffin Park is usually close to capacity and generates a good atmosphere. Unusually for the Championship, it also has terracing behind the goals so you can stand. Survival for another season at this level is almost assured but the same can't be said for City who are only a point above the bottom three. The Robins' home town of Bristol is a big place and dominates the western region of England yet it hasn't boasted a top-flight club since City were relegated in 1980 something which must make them one of the biggest underachievers in the country.

League One
Millwall v Scunthorpe United @3pm - things are starting to go a bit wrong for the Lions. After seeing their lengthy unbeaten run ended emphatically by Spurs in the FA Cup, they've gone three without a win in the league. Luckily they haven't suffered too badly and are still only three points adrift of the play-off places with a game in hand. Scunthorpe were top a while back but went on a very poor run to drop back down but two wins in three have seen them climb back to fourth so this will be important for both

League Two
Leyton Orient v Wycombe Wanderers @3pm - watching the O's struggles from the outside has been hard so it must be really bad if you actually do support them. Saturday saw another morale sapping defeat which left them seven points adrift of safety with seven games to go. It's the off pitch side of things which has really taken its toll as financial and managerial problems have left a young and inexperienced squad who haven't got the tools to cope with the current situation. Wycombe, a club just beyond the north-western border of London, are in with a shout of promotion again and will start as firm favourites

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Eastleigh @3pm - the Daggers scraped a vital 1-0 win over lowly York on Saturday to keep themselves in the top four of what has become a very tight promotion race. Only 10 points separate the top eight clubs with only two points between the top three. Only one side goes up automatically while the next four play-off meaning a real scramble for points should now ensue with just over a month of the regular season left to play. Eastleigh in 11th are effectively nowhere and would have fancied themselves to have done better this term - they could still give the nervy hosts an uncomfortable afternoon though

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Chelmsford City @3pm - although Hampton did well to hold title contenders Ebbsfleet to a creditable 1-1 draw on Saturday, they now face an uphill task to make the top five as current incumbents Poole and Chelmsford both won to pull further away. The Essex club are up next, knowing a win could make that play-off place all but certain

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Bognor Regis Town @3pm - there's plenty at stake at Donkey Lane this weekend as the seemingly perennial play-off chasing Towners welcome the league leaders from Sussex. As local rivals Havant & Waterlooville have faltered over the last two weeks, the Rocks have opened a four-point lead and will be keen to maintain it as they head for north London. Enfield took a point home from their visit to the south coast in January so shouldn't be overawed

Ryman League Division 1 North
Thurrock v Haringey Borough @3pm - the hosts enjoyed a useful 1-0 win at promotion rivals Cheshunt on Saturday which kept them in fourth and allowed Haringey to remain, despite a spirited defeat to league leaders Brightlingsea, in fifth. Another win here would put them on the verge of securing a play-off spot and possibly leave Haringey as low as eighth so it's an important one for both

Ryman League Division 1 South
Tooting & Mitcham United v South Park @3pm - fancy a bargain? Well Imperial Fields is the place to be this Saturday as everyone is being let in for free as part of the club's Community Fun Day. Not only this but TMU are also top of the league and looking good for promotion. Their amazing 14-game winning run came to an end at Horsham on Saturday but what is even more amazing is that fact that despite all that success they are still only six points clear of Dorking Wanderers who have a game in hand. In other words, the title race is far from over

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Chertsey Town v Hartley Wintney @3pm - Alwyns Lane could witness the visitors reclaim the CCL title with five games to spare. Denied promotion last year because their ground wasn't up to scratch, Hartley Wintney have been brilliant again and are 20 points clear at the time of writing. Given their massive goal difference over second-placed Westfield (+86 to +40), they only need to draw this to be crowned champions. In fact, if Westfield fail to win at Abbey Rangers (less than a mile from Chertsey) then Hartley will claim the title whatever

Combined Counties League Division 1
Banstead Athletic v Redhill @3pm - the hosts sealed promotion with a 5-0 win at Worcester Park on Saturday but the title is still up for grabs. Redhill, back in third, are their only challengers as they have seven games to go while second placed Chessington only have one game left. Even with Redhill having two games in hand, Banstead's lead is still significant and a win here should realistically end the contest

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Glebe v Sutton Athletic @3pm - it's second versus fourth at Foxbury Avenue and with four games in hand on top club Rusthall and being only a point behind, a win for Glebe will be highly significant. With only the top two going up, the season's over for Sutton

FA Women's Super League 2
London Bees v Sheffield FC @7pm - with the afternoon's action out of the way, you can spend your evening at The Hive watching some women's football. A short journey away on the Jubilee Line, this could very easily be combined with the Ryman League game between Hendon and Tonbridge Angels which kicks-off at 3pm

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Sunday 2 April

Premier League
Arsenal v Manchester City @4pm - the week ends with a monster of a game at the Emirates Stadium as two of the top flight's biggest clubs do battle. It should be a good game but realistically both have little chance of winning the title being 19 and 12 points behind Chelsea respectively. This match is more about securing a Champions League place, something City should ultimately manage but for the first time in goodness knows how long Arsenal might not

EFL Trophy Final
Coventry City v Oxford United @230pm - tickets for the above will be very hard or very expensive for non-members to get so you could head to Wembley instead for this cup final. Traditionally a competition reserved for League One and League Two sides, U23 teams from some Premier League and Championship sides were added to the draw this year to help the development of young players. Unpopular with clubs and supporters, crowds were tiny and all the academy sides went out long before the final. Instead we have the 1987 FA Cup winners against the 1986 EFL Cup winners as two sides who were much better in the '80s head to the national stadium. The attendance should be pretty substantial but tickets are still available on general sale at either end of the ground and are available through each club's website

FA Women's Super League 2
Millwall Lionesses v Everton @2pm - the pick of the day's women's action is to be found at Fisher's ground in Rotherhithe where the Lionesses go in search of their first win 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.

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