Tuesday 8 May 2012

TLFG: 8-13 May 2012

It's been a busy couple of days so apologies for the slightly later publication time than normal.

After spending Saturday evening on the couch watching Chelsea edge past Liverpool in the FA Cup, I got back to the coalface with a visit to Loftus Road for QPR's crucial final home match against Stoke City.

With a trip to Manchester City on the last day of the season still to come, defeating the Potters would be essential to have a good chance of avoiding the drop.

In typical fashion, Tony Pulis's side were tough and very hard to break down. With news regularly fed to us by gloating Stoke fans that Bolton were going further and further ahead against West Brom, the mood in the stadium plummeted with sometimes only the players' voices breaking the gloomy silence.

However, the Baggies pulled one back and as QPR pushed the atmosphere grew again.

When Djibril Cisse knocked in the 89th-minute winner the place went wild and before the celebrations ended news came through that West Brom had equalised prolonging the joy still further.

There was still time for one last heart-in-mouth moment as the ball fell to former QPR favourite Peter Crouch in a dangerous position but thankfully he steered his effort just wide as the hosts survived.

QPR fans celebrate on the Loftus Road pitch after victory over Stoke
As soon as the final whistle went, the traditional end of season pitch invasion began but it was one fuelled by that extra elation of having seen our whole season pivot around one crucial minute at Loftus Road and the Reebok Stadium.

Whether it proves to be enough is still yet to be seen but if QPR lose at Manchester City they will still stay up if Bolton fail to win at Stoke. To say it's going to be a tense final day would be an understatement.

On Monday, I undertook an epic journey to the far east of London to see AFC Hornchurch take on Lowestoft Town in the Ryman League Premier Division play-off final.

After finishing second and third and level on points the sides had had to enter the play-offs where wins over Bury Town and Wealdstone respectively had seen them get this far.

Bridge Avenue is very easy to get to being just a short walk from Upminster Bridge tube station, it's also close to Upminster too if you come in on the C2C fast train.

I arrived about 20 minutes before kick-off and the stadium was already largely full down both sides of the pitch. It wasn't so busy behind the goals mainly because there's a running track around the outside which keeps you some way from the action.

Nestled close to the Urchins' equivalent of ultras in the east stand I took up my position for the rest of the afternoon.

The first half provided few chances and those that did largely went the way of the hosts. The second half saw more of the same but with Lowestoft creating the better chances with Lubomir Guentchev crashing a stunnig effort against the bar and another just over.

AFC Hornchurch celebrate promotion to the Blue Square Bet South
Extra-time proved to be a far more open affair as Leon McKenzie pounced to give Hornchurch the lead early on before Dean Sinclair levelled from the penalty spot just before half-time.

With time running out, a penalty shoot-out looked certain until Michael Spencer fired home Hornchurch's winner with just seconds to go to seal their place in the Blue Square Bet South.

It was a good day all round for east London clubs as news filtered through that West Ham had comfortably seen off Cardiff City to make the Championship play-off final at Wembley later in the month.

If you're coming to London here's what is currently on general sale for some of the bigger matches that are taking place (click on the event for more info):


SUNDAY 13 MAY, 3pm


SUNDAY 13 MAY, 3pm

With most leagues having finished for the season there's only one match map this week but to beef it up I've added games from the Middlesex County Football League, Essex Olympian League, Surrey Intermediate League and Herts County League who play at Step 7/Level 11 of the national system. There's also a couple of games from the amateur leagues and a match from the FA Women's Super League to keep you football addicts happy.

Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures

View London match map 8-13 May 2012 in a larger map

Given that some of the details/locations/kick-off times for the Level 11 and amateur clubs are a bit sketchy, make sure you check with them or their respective leagues before travelling that the games are still on and please let me know if I've got anything wrong or details have changed.

Here are my pick of the matches that are on this week. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments section below:

A win for Harry Redknapp's Spurs side in this London derby will see them secure fourth place in the Premier League and a place in next season's Champions League qualifiers. With Newcastle just a point behind and Chelsea also possibly within reach by Sunday, there will be no margin for error. Former Tottenham manager Martin Jol has created a decent Fulham side who will be no pushovers and a win could see them finish seventh so there is plenty to play for. TICKET INFO

How important this match turns out to be depends on how well Chelsea do at Liverpool in the Premier League tonight (Tuesday). A win at Anfield will keep them in sixth but will leave them only two points behind Spurs in fourth meaning they'll have the opportunity to pounce if their north London rivals and Newcastle slip up. What kind opposition they'll face on Sunday is hard to tell. Blackburn succumbed to relegation on Monday night after losing to Wigan so whether they'll really go for it knowing the pressure's off or not bother and allow the Blues to rack up a cricket score remains to be seen. Given the hosts' great form I'd expect the latter. TICKET INFO

FA TROPHY FINAL (Saturday 12 May, 3pm)
Unusually for a TLFG recommendation, there's no London interest in this match at all. It is, however, taking place at our hallowed national stadium and provides a great chance for you to see a showpiece event there. If you don't know, the FA Trophy is a knockout competition which is contested by teams in the top four divisions of non-league football (Levels 5-8 of the national system). On Saturday two clubs from opposite ends of the Blue Square Bet Premier (Level 5) go head-to-head in pursuit of glory. Welsh club Newport County, managed by former Spurs player Justin Edinburgh, finished just above the relegation places while York have booked their place in the play-off final so will be back at Wembley again shortly. The smart money therefore says York should be favourites but will they be tempted to save themselves for arguably the bigger game a week later? TICKET INFO

For those of you who like a good play-off game, head down to Princes Park on Sunday where these two meet in the Blue Square Bet South final. Dartford finished the season higher than Welling so have home advantage for this one off winner-takes-all game. If your geography's not up to much then you're probably not aware that these two south-east London clubs are also big local rivals whose grounds are only five miles apart. The atmosphere should be great so give it a go if you're in the area. TICKET INFO

SURREY SENIOR CUP FINAL (Tuesday 8 May, 730pm)
Blue Square Bet South champions Woking go after another bit of silverware on Tuesday night when they play Sutton United at AFC Wimbledon's ground. The U's come into the game having suffered an aggregate defeat to Welling in Sunday's play-off semi-final so how motivated they'll be is hard to predict. Both sides have big followings so there should be a decent crowd as they complete their seasons with this cup final. TICKET INFO

FA VASE FINAL (Sunday 13 May, 3pm)
Like the FA Trophy above, this game doesn't have any London interest either but again represents a good chance to go and see a match at Wembley. This competition is open mainly to clubs who play at levels nine and 10 of the national system. Both these sides come from the Northern League which is made up primarily of clubs from Newcastle and the north east of England. It should be a close game as they finished third and second respectively this season. TICKET INFO  

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


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