Sunday, 29 January 2012

TLFG: 30 January - 5 February 2012

It's not often that I get to watch two matches in the same day, especially ones featuring my two favourite clubs.

First and foremost I'm a QPR fan, as regular readers will know, but I also have an interest in non-league side Harrow Borough whose ground I grew up close to and I still try and watch them a few times a season when I can.

Saturday saw QPR paired with arch rivals Chelsea in the FA Cup and on police advice the game kicked off at noon. The build-up to this game had been even more hyped than normal thanks to the 'race incident' involving  Blues captian John Terry and QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. Nothing has been proven at the time of writing but fans of both sides had clearly made up their minds who to believe long before this match took place - someone even saw fit to send a 'malicious communication' to Ferdinand on the eve of the match to ratchet up tensions even more.

A strong police presence deters troublemakers at Loftus Road
With the Shepherd's Bush club urging fans of both sides to arrive early to get through a load of extra security checks, I left 45 minutes before kick-off to get into a ground less than 10 minutes walk from my flat. I was half expecting near apocalyptic scenes in the area (as happened last time Millwall came to town) but found things to be very calm with a large police presence probably playing a part in this. Twitter had been alive with reports of airport-style security but I found no evidence of this and only had to undergo a pat down before getting in - maybe it was different for away fans.

Once the game got under way, the atmosphere was as you would expect for a local derby but it wasn't particularly poisonous and things passed off fairly smoothly as far as I know. Chelsea were worthy of their 1-0 win, it was just a shame that such a dubious penalty settled it.

With game one in the bag, I got on the Central Line out to the western suburb of Northolt and made my way to Earlsmead the home of Ryman League side Harrow Borough. The visitors were Wingate & Finchley, supported by a number of my fellow Non-League Day organisers, and they'd already opened a 2-0 lead by the time I'd got there. The hosts improved after the break, pulled one back but then had a man sent off and conceded a third in injury time to lose 3-1.

Wingate & Finchley (yellow) on the attack at Harrow
If you're interested in coming to watch a match in London and want any help or advice then don't hesitate to get in touch via the comments section below, Facebook, Twitter or email. If you want to do it your own way, here's what tickets are currently on general sale for some of the biggest games that are coming up in the capital:

29 February - Netherlands 8pm, Wembley, international friendly

Nothing currently available

25 February - Bolton Wanderers 3pm, Premier League

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

4 February - Wolverhampton Wanderers 3pm, Premier League
25 February - Fulham 3pm, Premier League

17 March - Stoke City 3pm, Premier League (on sale 2 February)

Next up are this week's match maps:

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.

Subject to the result of Hampton & Richmond's FA Trophy replay on Tuesday, there are 75 matches taking place in the London area this week. With games every day except Thursday, there are excellent groundhopping opportunities to be had.

TLFG TOP 10

This game between two of the biggest clubs in the country doesn't really need any introduction and should be a corker. In recent years this would often end up being a Premier League title deciding match but this year that doesn't seem to be the case. The visitors are still very much in the hunt in second but the Blues are 13 points off the pace in fourth. With Champions League football a necessity for a club like Chelsea, they'll still need to win to keep the chasing pack at bay. 

If you can't get a ticket for the match above, you might like to try this game a short journey away at Loftus Road the day before. These clubs lie just two points apart at the wrong end of the table, making this a 'six-pointer'. Rangers come into this match in marginally better form having won two of their last four in all competitions whilst Wolves haven't won in 10 attempts since beating Sunderland at the start of December. However, they have recorded a number of draws against some good sides during that sequence meaning this should be close.

The rivalry between these two is among the bitterest in the country and always requires a large police operation. The last time they met at Upton Park in August 2009 the trouble before, during and after the game made the national news. The atmosphere is likely to be intense again with both sides needing the points to boost their campaigns at either end of the Championship table. If you haven't got a ticket purchasing history with the Hammers then you won't officially be able to get one for this. If you really want to see the Lions in action this week then you're probably better off going to their other far less fractious derby match against Watford on Tuesday.

If you fancy something a little less highly charged you could do worse than head to Wheatsheaf Park on Saturday. Like the game above, both these sides have plenty play for sitting as they do towards either end of the Blue Square Bet South table. On paper the Wings should win this but Staines have pulled off shock victories at high-flying Woking and Chelmsford City in recent weeks so may well fancy their chances of causing another upset here.

This FA Trophy tie has been postponed on two previous occasions and is the only second round tie yet to be completed. As mentioned in previous weeks, Hampton are open to a cup upset here having had a poor season so far in the Blue Square Bet South. The visitors, who play a level below in the Ryman League, finally saw their lengthy unbeaten run ended by Essex rivals and title chasing AFC Hornchurch on Saturday but only by a goal to nil. If Hampton win they'll be away to Northwich Victoria in the next round on Saturday but if they lose then they'll get back to league duty at home to Dover Athletic.

Another Ryman League side hoping to pull off an upset in the FA Trophy are Wealdstone who travel to Princes Park for this third round tie. Like East Thurrock they have also just surrendered a lengthy unbeaten run but will still feel confident having beaten Blue Square Bet Premier side Barrow in the last round. However, the Darts are in good form themselves having won their last six games leaving them firmly in contention for promotion from the Blue Square Bet South. A TLFG team hasn't made the final since 2000 when Kingstonian beat Kettering Town - could this be the year?

As regular readers know, if there's some Friday football going on then I like to promote it. This week we have some Ryman League Premier Division action at the splendidly named Imperial Fields. The Terrors have been very inconsistent recently and currently find themselves in the bottom four. The visitors meanwhile have confounded many with the good season they've had so far and if they win their games in hand will move back into the play-off places. I spent Non-League Day here and was thoroughly impressed by the facilities which must be among the best of any club at this level. It's also easy to get to being just a short walk from Mitcham tram stop. Tooting also offer discounted admission of £5 to season-ticket holders of any club other than themselves or their opponent, armed forces personnel and the unemployed.

With their grounds a little over 1.5 miles apart this is known by locals as the A3 derby. This match has been postponed at least twice over the last few weeks so it will be even more eagerly anticipated by those involved. If you can't afford or don't want to go and watch nearby Fulham on Wednesday night then this Combined Counties League Premier Division fixture could be for you.

Another game to be previously postponed is this Combined Counties League Cup match. It pits Egham Town, one of the Premier Division's better clubs, against Division One leaders Guernsey. The Channel Islands club are in the first season of their existence and have caught the eye with many fine performances. They currently sit seven points clear at the top of the table, scoring goals at a whopping average of four a game in the process. The Sarnies on the other hand have won five of their last six league games so should provide a good barometer of how well the Green Lions should do if they go up.

Last up this week we have a match in the Kent Invicta League. The hosts are currently fifth and will hope to climb the table with a win over the league leaders on their visit to south east London. Bly, not to be confused with Blue Square Bet North side Blyth Spartans, are one point ahead of TLFG side Bridon Ropes at the top of the table and come into this match on the back of a 0-0 draw against fourth placed Phoenix Sports. The hosts, however, got hammered 5-1 by Woodstock Park on Saturday and lost their previous meeting with Bly too. It looks like an away win but you never know.

If you think any other games are worth a special mention or your club are offering a ticket deal or promotion, post the details in the comments section below. 

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