Sunday, 2 March 2014

TLFG: 3-9 March 2014

Hi there and welcome to TLFG.

How's your week been? Been to any games? 

I finally made it back to Loftus Road after about six weeks off. QPR had a February to forget, taking only one point from their four games to slip from second to fourth.

On Saturday they welcomed Leeds United who are, at least historically, one of the biggest clubs in the country. As recently as 2001/02 they finished fifth in the Premier League and the year before that they made it to the Champions League semi-finals where they lost to Valencia. They have of course also won the English league title three times, most recently in 1991/92.

Sadly financial mismanagement saw them plummet down to League One but they returned to the Championship in 2010 where they have remained ever since.

Leeds defend as QPR look to take a second-half lead
Saturday's game was pretty evenly matched with most of the significant action taking place in the first half. Referee Chris Foy awarded Leeds an early penalty which no-one in the ground seemed to appeal for so it came as quite a shock when he pointed to the spot. Thankfully justice was done when Rob Green saved Ross McCormack's penalty. 

The Scotsman made amends soon after though when his fine free-kick clipped the wall and flew into the net to put Leeds in front. 

Not much seemed to happen, certainly from a QPR point of view, until Jermaine Jenas equalised just before half-time. 

There were chances for both sides in the second half but this was far from a thriller and Harry Redknapp's side lost even more ground on the top two meaning the gap to second is now a whopping nine points. Is it time for the former Spurs boss to go? Many Rangers fans think so. 

In other news, Non-League Day will be taking place in Germany for the first time later this year.

Entitled 'Lokalrunde' (Local round), it will take place on Sunday 12 October. We haven't declared our date here yet but Saturday 11 October is a strong contender meaning we could have a bit of a non-league weekend going on.

Finally, over the next few months I really would like to give this blog a bit of a spruce up and at the very least get a unique logo designed. If you'd like to help me with this then please get in touch - I will pay although my design fund isn't huge.

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. You might also want to have a go at writing a 'Top Ten' one week. 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.

Each week at TLFG we attempt to compile a list of what's on general sale to non-members at London's Premier League clubs and for other notable matches (click on the team name for details).

Wednesday 5 March, 8pm - Denmark, international friendly, Wembley

Wednesday 5 March, 8pm - international friendly, Millwall

Nothing currently available

Nothing currently available

Tickets are only available to season-ticket holders, members and their guests

Saturday 15 March, 3pm - Newcastle United, Premier League
Sunday 30 March, 130pm - Everton, Premier League

Thursday 13 March, 805pm - Benfica, Europa League (on sale 7 Mar)
Sunday 23 March, 130pm - Southampton, Premier League
Monday 7 April, 8pm - Sunderland, Premier League (on sale 6 Mar)

Saturday 8 March, 3pm - Hull City, Premier League
Saturday 3 May, 3pm - Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League

We've got a bit of a Football League Super Saturday to look forward to on 15 March as Millwall host Charlton Athletic in the Championship and Leyton Orient take on Brentford in League One. Both are derbies, will be close to sell outs and almost certainly have a big bearing on things at either end of their respective divisions. The kick-offs are staggered too so it's possible that you could even go to both. If there are no engineering works on the Tube that weekend the journey from Leyton to South Bermondsey can be done in 37 minutes if you leave on the 1407 Central Line train and make your way to south-east London via Stratford and London Bridge. Tickets for the Millwall game go on general sale on Monday 17 February while the Leyton Orient ones are on sale now.

Millwall v Charlton Athletic - Saturday 15 March, 3pm, Championship 
Leyton Orient v Brentford - Saturday 15 March, 1215pm, League One

On Sunday 23 March at Wembley we have the FA Trophy final between Cambridge United and Gosport Borough. If you don't know, this is a knockout cup competition for teams in the top four levels of the non-league game (levels 5-8 nationally). Cambridge are currently second in the Conference Premier while Gosport are marooned at the bottom of the Conference South (the division below) so will be very much the underdogs. 

On Wednesday, at the same time England entertain Denmark, Australia take on Ecuador at Millwall's ground in another international friendly. There's a flat rate of £20 for adult tickets to watch these two World Cup bound nations go head-to-head.

Watching the big clubs' youth and reserve teams often provides pretty good value. On Friday night we've got an U21 Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool. The match takes place at Rush Green Stadium in Romford to the east of London. I'm not certain of admission prices for this yet but it won't be more than £5.

Saturday 29 March sees Isthmian League club Wingate & Finchley offering a 'Pay What You Want' scheme for their match against AFC Hornchurch. These initiatives often prove very popular and I'm keen to hear from any clubs, non-league or otherwise, if they want help promoting such events so please let me know.

Also way into the future, the annual football Varsity match between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge will be taking place at Craven Cottage on Sunday 6 April. It takes place on the same day as the more famous televised boat race which begins shortly after the match on the Thames which passes the ground. For £15 you'll get to see one of the oldest football fixtures in the world (this will be the 130th meeting) and then be able to watch the opening mile of the boat race from the vantage point of Craven Cottage's Riverside Terrace - your £15 also gets you some free food and drink!

If you know of any other deals I may have missed or your club is running a promotion let me know.

I often receive emails from readers asking how to get tickets for matches which have sold out. The only official way to do this is to go through a ticket re-sale site like StubHub or viagogo which are fully endorsed by the clubs involved. 

These sites work by letting season-ticket holders re-sell their unwanted tickets on a match-by-match basis and it is the ticket holder who sets the price. For a sold out match they will often be able to command a large premium but conversely you'll often be able to pick up tickets for less popular matches at a significant discount. 

I know some football supporters find these sites totally abhorrent and I understand their reasons but I guess it's better to have an official way of performing transactions like this rather than risk buying a counterfeit or even non-existent ticket from a less trustworthy or even criminal source.

Apart from the ticket deals mentioned above, if you're on a tight budget and still want to see some football then check out some non-league football.

The vast majority of the clubs TLFG covers play at this level and provide good entertainment week-in-week-out at great prices. The overwhelming amount of sides charge £10 or less to get in, with many no more than a fiver. 

Several also offer half-price admission for season-ticket holders and members of Premier League and Football League clubs all year round.

Non-league football is also a great way to get kids into watching the sport live with many clubs letting them in for free. 

Check your local club's website to see what they have to offer.

There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next week so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

However, with bad weather frequent at the moment, 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 in the following match map. If you've never used it 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 left side of the map page to make sure you get all the information.

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).

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

View London match map 3-9 March 2014 in a larger map

Next up is this week's TLFG match recommendations where I list a few games which I think could be worth a watch. There are often many more games that are worthy of a mention but I simply don't have the time or space to squeeze them all in so add your own in the comments section below.

1. England v Denmark - it's international friendly time again and although it's not a particularly glamorous looking game, it's a great way of getting a ticket to see a match at Wembley which should feature a few big name players. As we know, England pipped Ukraine to top spot in Group H to qualify for this summer's World Cup in Brazil. Sadly for Denmark, their record in finishing runners-up to Italy in Group B was the weakest of all second-placed teams so they didn't even make it to the play-offs. The last time these two met was three years ago in another friendly with England winning 2-1 in Copenhagen. (International friendly, Wednesday 5 March, 8pm. Ticket info)

2. Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - we've got a mouthwatering west versus north London derby at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. I think it's fair to say that very little love is lost between these two sides with both probably only disliking Arsenal more so there should be a decent atmosphere. At the current time both have plenty to play for in terms of the league. Chelsea are currently top and scrapping for every point in the hunt for their first title since 2009/10 while Spurs need every point they can get to try and keep their slim hopes of a top-four finish alive. Given that they haven't won here since 1990 (that's 26 visits in all competitions), the odds are firmly stacked against Tottenham in this one. (Premier League, Saturday 8 March, 530pm. Ticket info)

3. Arsenal v Everton - a little earlier the same day on the north side of town, there's a very interesting FA Cup quarter-final taking place. At the time of writing, both clubs are in the Premier League's top six but this competition is increasingly looking like the most realistic chance of silverware for either team this season so they should both really go for it. In recent years, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has tended to rest players a little too often in the FA Cup, sometimes with disastrous consequences so it would be almost negligent if he were to do it again. The Toffees have very little to lose and squad morale is probably higher as a result so I quite fancy them for a cupset. (FA Cup, Saturday 8 March, 1245pm. Ticket info)

4. Brentford v Bradford City - all our local Championship sides are on the road this week which means the focus next shifts to League One and title contenders Brentford. The Bees have now gone on a winless run of two games after losing to Wolves and drawing with Carlisle. Big deal you might say but when there's a fight between three very evenly matched teams for just two automatic promotion spots, it could make all the difference. Going into the weekend there was only one point between them, now Brentford find themselves three points adrift after Wolves and Leyton Orient both won. They will need to stop the rot quickly if they are to keep touch and in Bradford they face a midtable team who are much closer to the relegation places than play-off places in terms of points so should be beaten. Failure here could see panic start to set in. (League One, Saturday 8 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. AFC Wimbledon v York City - both these sides narrowly missed relegation last season so this year's campaign, which sees them well clear of the relegation places, must be classed as a success. Mathematically it could get even more successful as the play-off spots are less than three wins away. That is still quite a significant gap but with 12 games to go it could be bridged. The visitors are in better form but the Dons have won their last four against them. (League Two, Saturday 8 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Barnet v Gateshead - I have to admit to having taken my eye off the ball somewhat when it comes to Barnet. They always seem to be hovering around the top 10 in the Conference with a chance of making the play-off places so it came as a bit of shock today when I noticed that they had jumped up to third after a fine five game winning run. Sadly they lost at home to Woking on Saturday but the teams immediately below them all failed to win so they got away with it. This Saturday they host Gateshead who are among the chasing pack so there's plenty to play for. (Conference Premier, Saturday 8 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Dartford v Chester - at the other end of the table we've got this crucial match which will be shown live on BT Sport on Friday night. I've made much of Dartford's phoenix like rise from the ashes over the last few weeks but the last seven days has seen them waste two great chances to really pull away from the bottom four as they have taken only one point from fellow strugglers Aldershot and Southport. Next up are Chester who are just three points ahead of them in the all important 20th position. After a bad run the Blues are enjoying a bit of a resurgence too with eight points from their last four games. It's going to be tough and gritty but it should provide a great start to a weekend of football watching. (Conference Premier, Friday 7 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

8. Bromley v Sutton United - the game of the week in the Conference South pits first against third in a south London derby at Hayes Lane. Bromley have been top for months but are now back within reach of second-placed Eastleigh who are starting to win their games in hand. With Bromley only taking four points from their last three games, it's got to a stage where their one time 11-point lead will be completely wiped out if their Hampshire rivals win their two remaining games in hand. Ending this slump is therefore crucial but in Sutton they face very tough opposition who beat them 1-0 back in October and want to make sure of a play-off spot themselves. Massive game! (Conference South, Tuesday 4 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

9. Carshalton Athletic v Wealdstone - the Stones had this weekend off and sat back and watched as everyone else in the top five lost. Although third and four points behind leaders Dulwich, the title is theirs for the taking as they have four games in hand on them and second placed Maidstone and have played less than everyone else in the top six. Buoyed by this and a recent derby win over Harrow, Gordon Bartlett's side face a tiring week with two important league matches against relegation threatend opposition and a Middlesex Senior Cup quarter-final against local rivals Harefield. I've gone for this game as it's an all-London affair and both teams need the points. Carshalton only avoided relegation last season after an administrative error saw Thurrock deducted points to go down in their place. It's fair to say that they haven't made the most of their second chance and being 12 points adrift of safety with 15 games to go, you could say they're as good as down already. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 8 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

10. Phoenix Sports v Whyteleafe - last up this week we've got this top four clash from the Southern Counties East League. After many weeks, Whyteleafe's consistency and fine eight-game winning run has finally seen them top the table. Their latest performance on Saturday was the pick of them all as they demolished Lordswood 7-0 away. Phoenix are a canny side and topped the league themselves earlier in the season. They also knocked the Leafe out of the League Cup but got drubbed 5-1 themselves when they last met in the league.  (Southern Counties East League, Saturday 8 March, 3pm. Club info)

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

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