Sunday 25 March 2012

TLFG: 26 March - 1 April 2012

This time last week all the talk was about Fabrice Muamba and his collapse on the pitch at White Hart Lane. On Tuesday my football watching began with a trip to Church Road for the Ryman League Division One South match between Whyteleafe and Hythe Town.

What's the connection I hear you ask? Well this match had been re-arranged following another health-related incident this time involving the referee. Following a bee sting, an allergic reaction caused serious problems for Ashley Slaughter and treatment from Whyteleafe physio Gemma Clark saved the day.

As a result of this postponement the club decided to offer free entry to anyone who wanted to come along and threw in a basic programme for nothing too.

For those of you that have never heard of Whyteleafe, it's located right down at the southern fringe of the TLFG catchment area not far from Croydon. It's so far south it's almost in Sussex.

Relatively speaking you're in the country out here. On getting off the train I was instantly struck by the freshness of the air. It was a shame it was dark because the area appeared to be surrounded by wooded hills which must look pretty good in daylight.

The walk from the station is a short one but takes you up a small but steep lane which is poorly lit and soon loses its pavement so a reflective jacket would come in handy to avoid whatever traffic goes that way.

On passing some stables, and accompanying manure smell, you arrive at the ground which is pretty impressive for the level. A large grandstand behind one goal was to be my home for the evening and it was from here that I watched Hythe get off to a lively start.

Whyteleafe's Church Road ground
Despite the efforts of former Arsenal midfielder Ian Selley, Whyteleafe couldn't get control of the game but somehow held their far superior opponents until half-time. The second 45 minutes turned into a bit of a scrap - the visitors even looked like losing it in the closing stages as the Leafe upped their game but ultimately it ended goalless.

The next night I couldn't have been treated to a much more different game as QPR came from 2-0 down with 13 minutes to go to beat Liverpool 3-2. How the Reds didn't win this one is beyond me. Rangers barely got out of their half in the opening 20 minutes with corner after corner keeping them penned inside their own penalty area.

The forward play of Luis Suarez, Stewart Downing and Dirk Kuyt in the second half ensured that nothing much changed and when the Dutchman scored Liverpool's second with 18 minutes to go it was no more than they deserved.

What happened in the remaining minutes still has me pinching myself as the three goals that followed came almost out of thin air as one of the country's most famous teams imploded - not unlike AC Milan did in Istanbul in the 2005 Champions League final.

For me, the game seemed to swing on two crucial substitutions - Mark Hughes swapped captain Joey Barton for Jamie Mackie whilst Kenny Dalglish brought Andy Carroll on for Suarez.

With the Uruguayan striker out of the way, QPR's defence had more time to compose themselves and it was the two full-backs Taye Taiwo and Luke Young who got the assists for their second and third goals, the latter of which was scored by Mackie.

Sadly for QPR fans, the majority our big moments tend to feature one off great performances rather than title-winning exploits. With the 8-1 slaughter of Crewe in the Milk Cup in 1983, the 6-0 win over Chelsea in 1986 and the 4-1 triumph at Old Trafford against Manchester United in 1992 all firmly locked in my memory banks. I'm sure Wednesday night's game will join this pantheon and fully expect the commemorative DVD to come out soon.

If that's whetted your appetite for a bit of Premier League action here's what's on general sale for some of the bigger matches coming up in London over the next few weeks (click on the team name for more info):

2 June - Belgium 515pm, Wembley Stadium, international friendly

16 April - Wigan Athletic 8pm, Premier League

29 April - Queens Park Rangers 130pm, Premier League

21 April - Wigan Athletic 3pm, Premier League

11 April - Swansea City 8pm, Premier League

29 April - Blackburn Rovers 4pm, Premier League

In all there are 72 matches taking place across the London area this week. Aside from the normal league games there are fixtures in the FA Cup and a number in league and county cups many of which are at the semi-final or final stage. It is also one of those weeks when you can see a game every day with matches also scheduled for Thursday and Friday. Use the following maps to find out what's on and where:

Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Magenta pin - Friday fixtures

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.

If you're finding the options confusing, here's a list of a few games which I think are worth a special mention:


Fabrice Muamba collapsed during the original playing of this FA Cup quarter-final just over a week ago. The match was abandoned and re-arranged for Tuesday night. As was mentioned a couple of weeks back, the pedigree of both sides in this competition is impressive with 12 wins between them although it's been over two decades since the last one (Spurs in 1991). On paper the hosts should win against their relegation-threatened opponents but recent form would suggest otherwise - while Harry Redknapp's side have gone five without a win against Premier League opposition, the Trotters have won their last two. A Wembley semi-final against Chelsea awaits the winners. TICKET INFO

QUEENS PARK RANGERS v ARSENAL (Saturday 31 March, 3pm)
Wednesday night's win over Liverpool left many fans and pundits predicting a change in fortune for struggling QPR. Sadly the joy was shortlived as star striker Djibril Cisse got himself sent off for the second time in five starts as the west London club slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Sunderland on Saturday. The Gunners are the next to arrive in Shepherd's Bush at a time when they have suddenly become invincible. A few weeks ago Arsene Wenger's job appeared to be on the line but the French master has defied everyone, as usual, and conjured up a seven-game winning run which has seen them climb to third past their bitter rivals Tottenham. The last time these two met at Loftus Road was in an FA Cup tie in 2001 - Arsenal won 6-0 and QPR ended the season with relegation to what is now League One. The omens don't look good. Tickets: SOLD OUT

WEST HAM UNITED v READING (Saturday 31 March, 3pm)
Arguably the most tense game of the week will take place at Upton Park on Saturday where two of the Championship's top three go head-to-head. With Southampton opening up a five-point lead at the top, a scrap has developed between these sides for the second and final automatic promotion place. The Hammers have spent most of the season in the top two but have dropped points here and there and have finally been caught by the Royals who have won 10 of their last 12. The gap between them is currently four points so if Reading do win, it will almost certainly consign West Ham to a place in the play-offs. TICKET INFO

It's derby day at the Valley on Saturday as League One leaders Charlton entertain the O's from north of the river. The Addicks have had a rocky time since their relegation from the Premier League in 2007 but finally look like taking a large step back in that direction. Under the leadership of Chris Powell, the south-east London club have been top of the division virtually all season and go into this one eight points clear of second placed Sheffield Wednesday. You might think that's a very healthy position to be in and you'd be right but it was even better not that long ago. With over 20 points still available to the chasing pack, three defeats in five have started to make them look catchable. A good result is also important for the visitors who are only four points above the relegation zone. On Saturday they narrowly lost 1-0 to Sheffield Wednesday so Charlton will need to banish any complacency. TICKET INFO

BARNET v TORQUAY UNITED (Friday 30 March, 745pm)
The main reason I've flagged this up is because it takes place on Friday night, something which doesn't happen all that often. It's also a League Two match of some significance. The Bees are still firmly in the fight to avoid relegation from the Football League. Two consecutive draws have kept their heads above water but a loss here could send them back into the bottom two. The Gulls on the other hand are pushing for automatic promotion and are second at the time of writing. They have played more games than their immediate rivals so a win here will be essential to keep them in with a chance of going up. TICKET INFO

There's more derby action in the Blue Square Bet South at the Beveree on Saturday. These two south-west London clubs both need the points to boost their campaigns at either end of the table. Hampton, threatened by relegation, arguably need the points more as Sutton look pretty certain to finish in the play-off positions. After a season of struggle, Mark Harper's team seem to be showing some signs of grit at the crucial point. They have only lost one of their last five, including a draw with leaders Woking and won at Weston-Super-Mare on Saturday. Victory against Sutton could see them climb out of the bottom three and see them still with games in hand. The U's have just finished a big week which saw them play two of their closest rivals. It began with a humiliating 6-1 reverse at Dartford before a 0-0 draw at Welling United brought back some semblance of pride. Expect a close one. All Premier and Football League season-ticket holders get in for half price. TICKET INFO

THE ALAN BOON (RYMAN) LEAGUE CUP FINAL (Wednesday 28 March, 745pm)
As we approach the end of the season, the cup finals start to come thick and fast. The Ryman League's league cup final takes place on Wednesday night at Staines Town's ground where Bury Town and East Thurrock United contest this relatively major piece of silverware. This year the cup has been named in honour of Alan Boon a former Staines chairman who died in August. The Swans were members of the Ryman League for many years before their promotion and it was here that Mr Boon made many friends and earned a lot of respect. According to the Staines twitter feed, admission is £8 for adults, £4 concessions and £2 for kids.

HENDON v CRAY WANDERERS (Tuesday 27 March, 745pm)
In the Ryman League Premier Division the winners go up automatically whilst the next four teams play-off for a second promotion place. At the time of writing Hendon are sixth and Cray are fifth just a point apart. The Greens dropped two points at home to Carshalton on Saturday while Wanderers surprisingly lost at home to lowly Leatherhead earlier today. The top four have opened a bit of a gap between these two and with Lewes and Kingstonian also only a win behind, the battle for fifth place is really hotting up. All Premier, Football and Scottish League season-ticket holders get in for half price. TICKET INFO

ENFIELD TOWN v HARLOW TOWN (Saturday 31 March, 3pm)
Since moving into the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium back in November things have gone pretty well for Enfield Town. Crowds regularly exceed 400, no mean feat at level eight of the national system, and results have seen them pretty much secure a play-off spot with the league title still a possibility. On Saturday they welcome another one of the division's promotion-chasing clubs. Although currently seventh, the Hawks could climb to fifth with a win here and with six games to go every point will be crucial. TICKET INFO

BEDFONT SPORTS v STAINES LAMMAS (Saturday 31 March, 3pm)
Having been thrashed 7-1 by Guernsey in the Combined Counties League Division One title decider on Saturday, Bedfont Sports will need to regroup for this local derby. It's not all bad for the Eagles though as they are guaranteed to finish second meaning promotion at the end of the season. Staines Lammas, who roughly speaking play at the other end of Heathrow's runway to their hosts, still have a mathematical chance of going up themselves although they're 10 points adrift of third with only five games to go. Bedfont took the honours by a goal to nil when they last met in December but with nothing other than pride to play for it could be Lammas's turn to shine. CLUB INFO

If you have any questions or need advice about watching football in London you can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via Facebook, Twitter or email.

1 comment:

  1. Womens London Senior Cup final at Harrow Borough FC, Thursday 29th March. 7.30 pm kick off. Tottenham Hotspur v Mauritius SA