Tuesday 7 April 2015

TLFG: 7-12 April 2015

Apologies for the late publication this week. I had my first Easter weekend off in years and took full advantage with a couple of live games and some other days out with the family.

How many games did you cram in? It was possible to see three on Monday alone if you'd got yourself well organised.

Personally I spent my time indulging in Isthmian League action as the race for the title and play-off places really hotted up.

On Saturday I took my two-year old daughter to her first ever proper fee-paying football match (i.e. not a kickabout in the park). It was also doubly challenging as I had to take her on public transport in her buggy on a route that was as far from step-free as it was almost possible to be.

The match I chose was the top of the table clash between Hendon and Maidstone United.

The Greens have been in the Isthmian League's top flight without being promoted or relegated since 1963 which I think is some kind of record.

In recent years they have led a nomadic existence since the loss of their Claremont Road home and their support and finances have suffered as a result.

Sam Murphy scores Hendon's winner at Earlsmead
Despite this they have somehow put themselves in a position where if they win their remaining games, the title will be theirs and their 52-year stay in the Isthmian League will be over.

Maidstone started the game as league leaders and being a much bigger club, with regular crowds in excess of 2,000, this was a real David v Goliath contest.

On the day, United's supporters outnumbered Hendon's by approximately three to one (att. 759) and things looked ominous when they took a deserved lead in the 15th minute. It was pretty much one-way traffic until shortly before the interval when the hosts drew level with a fine free-kick.

The second half saw Hendon come much more into it and they took the lead from the spot after a professional foul left Maidstone a goal and a man down.

The Kent club showed little sign of being affected by this disadvantage and created a number of chances to equalise but failed.

The result still left Hendon five points behind but with two games in hand, the title is theirs for the taking.

On Monday, for the second time this season, I headed south to Champion Hill to watch Dulwich Hamlet v Enfield Town.

The Hamlet have been among the leading pack all season but a sticky patch over the last month or so had left them fearing for their play-off place.

A team to have emerged from midtable at the last moment after a pretty average start to the campaign, Enfield were suddenly breathing down their necks only a point behind.

Despite their lower ranking, many would've fancied the in-form north Londoners to have won here to push Dulwich out of the way.

Maybe it was my presence as a lucky mascot but things started really positively for the hosts and they made it to half-time with a commanding 2-0 lead.

Brad Quinton's side didn't give up though and pulled one back during a second half which got increasingly desperate and dirty - a brawl led to one of the visitors being sent off at one point.

Like Maidstone, Enfield kept battling and the nerves around a busy Champion Hill (att. 1,204) were really jangling when the referee announced eight minutes of injury time.

Gavin Rose's side saw the game out though to give themselves a four-point cushion over the non play-off places which with three games to go should be just be enough.

Hendon and Dulwich go head-to-head this Saturday in another massively important game for both so I strongly recommend a visit to Earlsmead if you're looking for something to do. 

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.

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.

There are over 70 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).

Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Orange pin - Thursday fixtures
Claret pin - Friday 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. 


1. Queens Park Rangers v Chelsea - it's west London derby time again. This is the game which QPR fans always look out for in June when the fixtures are revealed. The Blues are without doubt the most hated team for fans of the W12 club and recent unsavoury incidents like that which saw John Terry in court following a verbal exchange with Anton Ferdinand show how heated these games can become. For most Chelsea fans, however, Rangers are becoming little more than an annoying cousin who needs to be put in his place once in a while. However, it doesn't always work out that way and over the last three years or so QPR have been one of the teams that have given them quite a bit of difficulty. Jose Mourinho's side come into this game without top scorer Diego Costa and Rangers put in their best performance of the season on Saturday at West Brom. Chelsea must avoid complacency at all cost otherwise they could come unstuck against what should be a highly motivated QPR. (Premier League, Sunday 12 April, 130pm. Ticket info)

2. Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa - this match will have a bearing on both ends of the table but is probably most notable for marking the return of former Spurs boss Tim Sherwood as Villa manager. Having been somewhat harshly removed from his position at White Hart Lane, he will undoubtedly have a point to prove. Having lost eight of their last 10 games, Villa also badly need the points to avoid the drop. Tottenham still have an outside chance of making the top four and have won their last six against the Birmingham club so should triumph here. (Premier League, Saturday 11 April, 3pm. Ticket info)

3. Charlton Athletic v Fulham - on Tuesday we've got a derby in the Championship. With the Addicks tucked snugly into midtable and with absolutely nothing to play for, this game is all about the Cottagers and whether they can pick up the points they need to keep them away from the bottom three. Dangling just above it, things look worse than they are as they have a seven-point cushion over Millwall just below them. With six games left they can be caught but a point here would be useful. The good news for the west Londoners is that they are unbeaten in seven against Charlton and triumphed 3-0 when they last met in October. (Championship, Tuesday 7 April, 745pm. Ticket info)

4. Millwall v Watford - the Lions looked finished recently but with Neil Harris now in charge, things have started to pick up. Now undefeated in three and with a derby win over Charlton, Millwall can potentially catch the teams immediately above them. It will take a Herculean effort to pull it off and with title chasing Watford the next to visit it's not getting off to an easy start. The Hornets have become a little inconsistent of late but are still only one point behind leaders Bournemouth and have a very good record against the Bermondsey side. This has real potential to entertain. (Championship, Saturday 11 April, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Barnet v FC Halifax Town - dropping down to Conference level, local side Barnet are still on course for the title and a return to the Football League. After a wobble which let Bristol Rovers and Grimsby Town into the race for top spot, the Bees kept hold of pole position with a 1-0 win at struggling Dartford on Monday. Halifax are unbeaten in nine and consequently also in with a chance of promotion. However, they've drawn eight of those games so are still only down in eighth. They've also done well against the Bees over the last couple of seasons so should be very dangerous opponents. (Conference National, Saturday 11 April, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Dartford v Nuneaton Town - this match represents a last throw of the dice for the Darts who will get relegated if they don't win. Even if they do, if Alfreton draw at Eastleigh it will all be over. Nuneaton are also up to their necks in it and will have to win to ensure they don't also drop down a level too. In short it's a fight to the death which could end up with both combatants snuffing it. The last match between them saw Dartford win 2-1 so they've got hope. (Conference National, Saturday 11 April, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Hendon v Dulwich Hamlet - the Greens had a great weekend as they enjoyed back-to-back wins over league leaders Maidstone and local rivals Wingate & Finchley. These results mean the title is theirs to win because of the games in hand they have. If they do end up winning, it should be one of the sports stories of the year. Averaging crowds of around 200, without their own ground and with meagre finances they are currently on a 16-game unbeaten run which has been crammed into just eight weeks! This match against fellow promotion rivals Dulwich will be their fourth in seven days, all of them against tough opponents. Hamlet, on the other hand, are a much bigger club who regularly pull in crowds of 1,000+ and have been in the leading pack all season. However, of late they've had a major wobble going on a five-game winless streak. They finally stopped this trend with a crucial win over Enfield on Monday but with this and other tough fixtures to come, they can't let up yet. Huge game for both. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 11 April, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. Phoenix Sports v Ashford United - the game of the weekend across all our local Step 5 leagues sees the top two in the Southern Counties East League lock horns for what could well be the title decider. Phoenix have been top for most of the season and appear to be a club going places. I watched them three years ago in the season they finished runners-up to Bly Spartans in the Kent Invicta League. A year later they won it and moved up to the SCEFL where they've added floodlights and other ground improvements which will see them almost certainly join the Isthmian League next season. On Saturday a win here will give them the title but anything else will surely just be delaying the inevitable given their 11-point lead. (Southern Counties East League, Saturday 11 April, 3pm. Club info)

9. Ilford v Barking - a bit further north across the Thames, this East End derby could decide who wins the Essex Senior League. Barking have pushed leaders Haringey Borough pretty hard this season but got firmly put in their place on Saturday as they were swept aside 4-0 at Coles Park. To be in with a chance of prolonging their title challenge they will have to win at Cricklefields and hope Boro lose. Given Haringey have a midweek game in hand at Basildon, Barking could find themselves eight points adrift coming into this game with only three to play so this really is their last chance. Ilford won't make it easy either - it is a derby and they won the reverse fixture 2-1. (Essex Senior League, Saturday 11 April, 3pm. Club info)

10. AFC Croydon Athletic v CB Hounslow United - like the previous game, the result of this match could see the title handed to someone else. The hosts have been there or thereabouts for a while now and I thought either they or Worcester Park would catch Farleigh but it hasn't happened. With two games to go, the Rams are second but six points adrift therefore a win is essential in this one. If Farleigh do implode in their final two games then Croydon's vastly superior goal difference could still see them come out on top so there could be a final twist. (Combined Counties League Division 1, Saturday 11 April, 3pm. Ticket 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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