Sunday, 22 January 2012

TLFG: 23-29 January 2012

As this is a blog about London football in general I'm always conscious about talking too much about my personal favourites QPR but I'm afraid they're going to feature prominently again this time after making a lot more headlines.

The first week of the Mark Hughes era saw the former Chelsea player have to preside over three matches in just six days - a hectic start by anyone's standards. It began with a 1-0 loss at Newcastle, improved with a 1-0 win over MK Dons in the FA Cup and culminated in a crucial 3-1 triumph over fellow strugglers Wigan. The latter being achieved despite a very public attack being launched by captain Joey Barton against ex-boss Neil Warnock on Twitter in the run-up to the game.

The Yorkshireman was dismissed two weeks ago and is still held in very high esteem by Rangers fans so this was ill advised to say the least. As a fan, knowing how to react was quite tricky. The natural instinct was to want to defend Warnock and chastise Barton. However, Warnock has gone and Barton is still with us and can help us win games - booing him against Wigan would be very counter productive. Maybe Barton calculated this was the case and saw his chance to let rip. As it turned out there was hardly a murmur from the Rs supporters. His performance was reasonable but after one stray pass a friend of mine commented - 'If Barton passed footballs as well as he passed comment he'd be a fantastic player' which summed this up nicely I thought.

Wigan prepare to defend a corner prior to going 1-0 down at QPR
I went to both the MK Dons and Wigan matches this week but where did you end up? Let me know in the comments section below or on our Facebook page or via Twitter. Also if you've taken some photos at a match, feel free to share them on our Flickr page or via one of the social media channels above so TLFG can help promote them. Chris Hayes took some great pictures at the Wealdstone v Cray Wanderers match in the Ryman League so take a look. I'm also keen to promote other related blogs so if, for example, you've written about a visit to a match in the London area let me know so I can retweet it.

TLFG is getting an increasing amount of interest from readers based overseas so here's the latest news about tickets that are on general sale for some of the biggest matches coming up in the capital.

29 February - Netherlands 8pm, Wembley, international friendly

29 January - Aston Villa 4pm, FA Cup

Nothing currently available

1 February - West Bromwich Albion 8pm, Premier League
11 February - Stoke City 3pm, Premier League
3 March - Wolverhampton Wanderers 3pm, Premier League

4 February - Wolverhampton Wanderers 3pm, Premier League

Nothing currently available

Back to this week now and here are TLFG's latest match maps for your perusal:

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


WEEKEND MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures

Please let me know if there are any errors or omissions and always make sure you check with a club on the day whether a match is still taking place.

For the third week in a row there are 67 matches taking place over the next seven days in the London area. There are a lot of decent ones to choose from so whittling it down to 10 has been quite challenging. If you think I've missed one that should be mentioned or have a special event or offer at your club, post the details in the comments section below.

TLFG TOP 10

By scraping past MK Dons in Tuesday night's replay, QPR have managed to set up an FA Cup fourth round tie against their bitter west London rivals Chelsea. This match is usually highly charged but will be even more so this time following the racism allegations surrounding Blues captain John Terry after the two clubs met in the Premier League in October. A large security operation is expected to make sure things don't get out of hand. On paper Chelsea should win fairly comfortably but we thought that last time and QPR won 1-0. The early kick-off in this game should also enable those attending to do a 'double' and see another game at a local club later in the afternoon (e.g. Hendon play Hastings United at Wembley FC at 3pm and offer half-price admission of £5 to all Premier League and Football League season-ticket holders).

Thierry Henry scored that memorable comeback goal against Leeds in the last round and the Gunners will hope for more success in this FA Cup tie. They shouldn't have it all their own way here though as Villa have one of the best records of any away team at the Emirates having lost only once in five visits. On current form and league position you would expect Arsenal to progress but Villa won at Wolves on Saturday and will come into this with renewed confidence. Unusually for Arsenal home games, tickets for this are on general sale at the time of writing so act quickly if you want to get one.

The FA Cup draw has thrown up another attractive derby at Vicarage Road on Friday night. All the form points to an away win - the Hornets are at the wrong end of the Championship having lost three of their last four, while Spurs are in with a shout of winning the Premier League. Add to this the fact that the hosts haven't beaten the club from N17 since a League Cup match in 1994 (they lost the tie on aggregate though) and the omens don't look good. However, this is what the FA Cup is all about and it's made for the TV cameras that will be showing it live on ESPN. 

This time last week the Lions were licking their wounds after being thrashed 6-0 at home by Birmingham City but they've responded superbly since then beating Dagenham & Redbridge 5-0 in the FA Cup and taking all three points from Oakwell after winning 3-1 at Barnsley - Darius Henderson scoring a hat-trick in both games and they'll need to be at their best if they're to win this FA Cup tie. The Saints have topped the Championship for months and will return there on Monday night if they beat Leicester. The Bermondsey club's record against the Hampshire outfit is also poor having gone almost 35 years since last beating them at home. Ticket prices for this have been reduced across the board with adults paying £18.

Perhaps not the most attractive match-up of the week and the Dons also seem to recognise this, cutting the ticket price for standing to just £10 for this League Two game (if bought in advance) and that's really the main reason I've gone for it. Neither side are setting the division on fire but I think this deal offers good value and I want you to know about it. I visited Kingsmeadow a couple of weeks ago to watch their tenants Kingstonian and it is one of my favourite smaller London grounds. Check this out if you're in town on Tuesday night and fancy taking in a game.

This FA Trophy tie should all be done and dusted by now but the pitch was deemed unplayable last week so it was moved to Tuesday. As mentioned last time, this match could see an upset with Blue Square Bet South side Hampton having had a poor season thus far and their latest defeat on Saturday against Dartford won't help with their confidence. The Rocks, from a level below, come in to this game on the back of a 12-game unbeaten run so will hope to take advantage and earn a place in the last 16.

At the eastern edge of TLFG's catchment area you'll find these two Blue Square Bet South clubs on either side of the Thames but quickly linked by the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge and a couple of road tunnels. This is, therefore, very much a derby. The last meeting back in October saw the Darts win 3-0 which was unsurprising given the current gulf in ability between the two - Dartford have won their last four to lie fourth in the table while the visitors haven't won in 10 and prop up the division. Princes Park is also one of the finest grounds in non-league football giving you another reason to choose this game on Saturday.

Not a million miles from Dartford, the Wings take on the Clarets in another big game in the Blue Square Bet South. With Woking seemingly running away with the title, it's up to the others to scrap for the four play-off places and these two currently sit second and third (that could change in midweek). There's only two points between them and their form over the last five games is pretty similar, although Chelmsford did surprisingly lose 1-0 at home to struggling Staines on Saturday. Too tight to call.

I gave the Greens a plug earlier and I believe they deserve another one for their derby match against the Stones in the Ryman League Premier Division. Hendon came flying out the blocks at the start of the season and topped the league in August. Things haven't gone quite so well for them since then but they are still firmly in the hunt for a play-off place. Wealdstone didn't start so smoothly but are making up for lost time and have gone 14 games without defeat in all competitions including their fine win over Barrow, two levels above them, in the FA Trophy last week. This should be quite a lively affair and don't forget if you're a season-ticket holder at a Premier League or Football League team you'll get in for just £5.

If a trip to Vale Farm isn't for you, maybe you could be tempted this Combined Counties League Cup tie at the Runnymede Stadium. This is a particularly intriguing encounter as it pits Division One leaders Guernsey against the Sarnies who are one of the better teams in the division above. The Green Lions are in only their first season of existence but are playing good football and are scoring, on average, over four goals a game. They are also well supported and many feel they could sweep through the divisions and be in the Blue Square Bet South (four divisions above) in no time. Egham provide an example of the opposition they'll face next season so it will be interesting to see how they fare.

If you're coming to London or have any questions about watching football here please don't hesitate to get in touch. TLFG can be contacted via the comments section below, Facebook, Twitter or by email.


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