Sunday, 8 March 2015

TLFG: 9-15 March 2015

After managing to do the 'parkrun/trip to football' double last weekend, I only went and pulled it off again this time too!

Not only this but I got my wife and daughter (in a buggy) plus a number of my wife's friends and kids to have a run/walk too as we tried out the new event in Cassiobury Park in Watford. It's an excellent largely flat course and potentially pretty quick so give it a go.

I then took some of the aforementioned kids with me to watch QPR v Spurs later in the afternoon back in Shepherd's Bush.

Like the match against Arsenal in midweek which I also went to, Rangers started well but didn't take their chances and ended up chasing a 2-0 deficit with 20-30 minutes to go.

In both QPR did fightback and get a goal but then failed to find the all-important equaliser and lose 2-1.

TLFG reader Gary paid a visit to the Boleyn Ground and sent in this picture

Given how well my beloved side competed against supposedly superior teams it was a shame they got nothing.

The Tottenham game also offered a great chance to compare the two English strikers who are currently scoring for fun and looking to break into the national side.

Despite being a Rangers supporter and huge fan of Charlie Austin, I genuinely believe Harry Kane is a better and more polished prospect.

Austin is rugged and all about power - perhaps too much at times as his shot which almost knocked the goal down when he slammed it against the bar from point-blank range demonstrated.

Kane appears more versatile, has greater mobility and seems like a more 'international' player. He also scored both of the visitors' goals.

Austin's highlight actually came from his defensive work where he tracked back to block an initial cross-shot and then recovered to stop the rebound on the goal line. It was a stunning bit of play that any top defender would've been proud of let alone one of the best centre-forwards in the country. This is a regular part of his game and shows what a great team player he is.

This week it was also good to hear from TLFG reader Gary from Cheshire who was down in London on business and joined some season-ticket holding friends for the West Ham v Chelsea derby game on Wednesday which the Blues won 1-0. He sent in some photos so thanks a lot Gary, much appreciated.

THE FA TROPHY FINAL

If you didn't already know, the Non-League Day team are trying to promote an important match which is coming up at Wembley.

If you missed it, we're trying to create a big non-league get-together at the country's national stadium on Sunday 29 March for the FA Trophy Final - effectively the non-league cup final.

It coincides with the next international break and with it being on the Sunday, aside from a match at Fleetwood Town up near Blackpool, there won't be any Premier League or Football League action alongside it. Also, there will be virtually nothing happening lower down the pyramid either so I heartily invite you to join us.

The record crowd since the competition began in 1969 is 53,262 which was achieved back in 2007 shortly after the 'new' Wembley opened and getting anywhere near that will be a huge challenge.

This year's final will see North Ferriby United play Wrexham.

Very well done to the aptly named Villagers from the Conference North. They come quite literally from a village near Hull with a population of only 3,893 (2011 Census) so filling Wembley might be tough.

I'm hoping the Dragons will bring a few though. They were a League One side not all that long ago so it will be a real David v Goliath contest which I'm looking forward to. 

Sadly the early-bird deadline for cheaper tickets has passed so tickets now cost:

Adults: £30
Senior citizens/Students: £20
U16s: £10

However, these prices drop significantly if you bring a group of 15 or more:

Adults: £15
Senior citizens/Students: £10
U16s: £5

Personally I think these are fair prices, given it's a Wembley cup final. If you're visiting London and want to see a game at one of the best and most famous football stadiums in the world then you won't get a much better chance than this. Hope to see you there.

GET INVOLVED
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.


LATEST TICKET NEWS
Please follow this link or click on the tab at the top of the page for all the information you need about how to get a ticket, what's currently available to non-members at London's biggest clubs and any other special offers or promotions which might be running.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

However, 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).

MATCH MAP
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Orange pin - Thursday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures



Next up is this week's TLFG match recommendations where I list a few games which I think could be worth a watch. If I miss one that you think should get a mention then add your own in the comments section below. 

TLFG TOP 10

1. Chelsea v Paris St Germain - it's not hard to see why this big cross channel Champions League tie tops the list this week. With the competition down to its last 16, two of the richest sides in the world meet at Stamford Bridge for the second leg of this tie. After drawing 1-1 in the French capital a couple of weeks ago, it's all to play for on Wednesday night. They also met in this last season where only away goals after a 3-3 aggregate score saw Chelsea progress. It could well come down to that again. (Champions League, Wednesday 11 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

2. Arsenal v West Ham United - elsewhere we've got some great derbies to look forward to too. The Gunners are really building momentum at the moment winning seven of their last eight league games to move up to third. This is in stark contrast to the Hammers who started the season superbly but have since slipped badly, picking up only one victory since Christmas.The north London club have won their last nine games in all competitions against the East End's finest and that run looks likely to be extended on Saturday. Home areas for this game are sold out but West Ham's website suggests tickets in their section might still be available. (Premier League, Saturday 14 March, 3pm. Home ticket info)

3. Crystal Palace v Queens Park Rangers - earlier in the day down in SE25 we have London derby number two as my beloved QPR take their relegation fight to the Eagles. These two are similar size clubs and it is therefore of great credit to the powers that be at Palace that they seem to be establishing themselves as a solid midtable Premier League side following their promotion in 2013. They comfortably avoided the drop last season and should do again this time round. Rangers, despite potentially much bigger finances, haven't come close to doing this in their three most recent seasons in the top flight and should try and emulate the Palace model. It ended 0-0 at Loftus Road in December and was a turgid affair but the teams have both improved since then. Tickets for Selhurst Park in the home sections require membership but some are still available on general sale in the away section so contact QPR. (Premier League, Saturday 14 March, 1245pm. Home ticket info)

4. Watford v Reading - in the Championship, two of QPR's other traditional rivals who also yo-yo between the top two divisions meet on Saturday. It's been eight years since the Hornets last competed at the top level but they've got a huge chance of getting back up this time. The division was already tight but after this weekend's results there are now four teams tied for top spot and Watford are one of them. Of that quartet, they are the ones in the best form so it's looking good. Since getting relegated with QPR two years ago, the Royals have struggled and are 18th at the time of writing. Although they will start as underdogs, the Berkshire club are unbeaten on their last three visits to this part of the world so could dig in and frustrate.  (Championship, Saturday 14 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Leyton Orient v Yeovil Town - the struggling O's looked to be mounting a bit of a fightback this time last week but unsurprising back-to-back defeats against promotion contenders Bristol City and Peterborough United have halted their advance. However, they have a huge match against fellow strugglers Yeovil to prepare for on Saturday. Four go down in this division and only three points separate the bottom five so winning this will be crucial for both. Orient can take confidence from the fact they won 3-0 at Huish Park in December, one of the best performances of their season. (League One, Saturday 14 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Dagenham & Redbridge v Southend United - the Daggers have had a great week, notching wins over fellow strugglers Hartlepool and Tranmere in the space of four days. These results have moved them nine points clear of the relegation zone and given them some breathing space. Next up they welcome the Shrimpers for an Essex derby. Phil Brown's side are fourth, just outside the automatic promotion places and will present a stiff test but Dagenham are undefeated in four against their county rivals so shouldn't be overawed.  (League Two, Saturday 14 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Boreham Wood v Whitehawk - the Conference South title race took another twist on Saturday as leaders Bromley lost to fellow Kent club Ebbsfleet while second placed Boreham Wood picked up a 1-0 win at Maidenhead to cut the gap to just a point. The Wood's next league match sees them welcome Whitehawk who still have title ambitions of their own with eight games to go. It's notable that both clubs are in the top four despite averaging crowds of below 300. The hosts are known to be well run financially while the Sussex outfit have an owner who has invested heavily. How either would survive in the Conference National against much bigger clubs, some who attract 10 times as many fans, is hard to imagine. (Conference South, Saturday 14 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. Hendon v Margate - on Wednesday night two of the Isthmian's top four meet in the semi-final of the league cup. Being two points ahead and on a great run of results, the visitors would've probably started as favourites but a 3-0 home defeat to Enfield Town on Saturday has made them look vulnerable. The Greens are unbeaten in seven and beat Margate 3-2 in the league game at Earlsmead back in October so they've got a great chance. If I was Hendon boss I'd really commit to winning this. Margate are a much bigger club and hence better equipped for promotion - this again could add to their vulnerability as their eyes could be on another prize. (Isthmian League Cup semi-final, Wednesday 11 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

9. Northwood v Uxbridge - I love it when clubs try to do something a bit special to get extra people in and this week it's Northwood who are going the extra mile. The Southern League club are holding a community day on Saturday and are running a 'Pay What You Can' promotion as well as a number of other supplementary events so please take them up on their offer as I may well do. The match itself should be a good one. It's a local derby and the teams are only a place in a part in the table. If you live in Northwood, Ruislip, Harrow or Watford then this could be a fine way to spend your afternoon. (Southern League Division 1 Central, Saturday 14 March, 3pm. Club info)

10. Molesey v Cove - at the time of writing, the Moles are fifth some 12 points adrift of Combined Counties League leaders Cove. Strangely though, this could almost act as title decider between the two clubs. As mentioned, Cove are well clear at the top but Molesey have six games in hand so could surpass them by some distance if they win them. The Hampshire club won the reverse fixture 2-1 in September and are in better form at the present time so are still very much the team to beat. (Combined Counties League Premier Division, Tuesday 10 March, 745pm. 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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