Sunday, 13 March 2016

TLFG: 14-20 March 2016

Been very pushed for time this week (bought a flat on Friday) so at this stage it's little more than the match maps.

I fully intend to come back and flesh things out on Monday and Tuesday but the maps are there so you can see what's going on and make plans accordingly.

Check back later in the week for more - cheers.

UPDATE: 14/03/16 - despite the best efforts of an unwanted Windows 10 installation to sabotage my attempts to 'flesh things out', I've managed to add a Top 10 at the foot of the page.

Over the last week I managed to get to QPR's 2-0 win over Derby County and then savoured the 3-0 derby win over Brentford from home as work didn't finish in time for me to make kick-off.

It seems Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink might be starting to get through to his players, they just need to start turning up for away games.

Help our audacious attempt to get a non-league match to outsell an England game - tickets on sale now
The build up to Non-League Finals Day at Wembley on Sunday 22 May has continued this week. With the FA also confirming England will play Turkey in Manchester on the same day, I've decided to throw down the gauntlet to the non-league community and challenge them to outsell the national team.

It's a huge challenge but one that will make a powerful statement if it somehow comes to pass. Look out for #NonLeagueFinalsDay and #LetsFillWembley on Twitter and use them yourself to help spread the message if you feel so inclined.

We also got a step closer to finding out who will be playing on the day with Grimsby and FC Halifax recording first leg wins in the FA Trophy semi-finals while both FA Vase semis were left very finely balanced after two close games in that competition.

With a joint ticket for both finals costing £25 adults, £10 concessions and £1 kids - it's a pretty good value day out. The adult tickets halve in price to just £12.50 if you can bring a group of 12 or more. Remember, wristbands are being issued too so you can come and go from the stadium throughout the day.

Hope to see you there!


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 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 on the following match maps. If you've never used them 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 drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (white pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.

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
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures

Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures


1. Chelsea v West Ham United - although the Blues have improved significantly under Guus Hiddink, the last week or so has been hugely disappointing. A draw with Stoke at home was followed by defeats to PSG and Everton which saw them knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup in quick succession. With the league title also way out of reach, their only target now is try and get into Europe next season. Fourth place is still 11 points away, so even making the Europa League will be some achievement. If they are to get anywhere near then they'll need to beat the Hammers who are fifth and in the kind of form that makes them a real threat. With three wins on the trot in the league and a draw at Manchester United in the cup, they will arrive with a certain amount of confidence. A fine West-East derby looks very much on the cards. (Premier League, Saturday 19 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

2. Crystal Palace v Leicester City - the Eagles safely made it past Reading on Friday to secure a place in the FA Cup semi-finals against Watford. Quite how they've managed such a great cup run is something of a mystery when you consider they haven't won a league game since 19 December. If it wasn't for their great start to the season, then their 12-game winless run would surely have seen them mired in the bottom three. As it is they have a decent eight-point cushion between themselves and the real strugglers but they need to get a win or two or things could turn sour. Sadly it's not likely to get any easier as league leaders Leicester are next up. The Foxes stayed five points clear with a 1-0 win over Newcastle on Monday but it's getting to that point of the campaign where nerves could get the better of them. Although they are winning games, it's been by small margins. Could this be the time Palace start to turn things around? (Premier League, Saturday 19 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

3. Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund - if Spurs hadn't made such a mess of the first leg then I'd have made this game of the week as it pits the number two ranked teams from England and Germany against each other. With several players rested, the north London side lost 3-0 to pretty much concede the tie. Although they got back to winning ways at Aston Villa on Sunday, boss Mauricio Pochettino is unlikely to throw caution to the wind here as winning the domestic title is clearly a higher priority. For the record, Borussia are the only challengers to Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga crown this season and are unbeaten in nine. (Europa League, Thursday 17 March, 805pm. Ticket info)

4. Millwall v Sheffield United - the Lions kept themselves in the top five over the weekend with a draw at Swindon but it could've been so much better as they let a two-goal lead slip. Overall though, things are looking good as they're now unbeaten in five and very much in the hunt for a play-off place. The Blades, as one of League One's biggest clubs, are underachieving. It must be really tough supporting this particular Yorkshire club who have never really recovered from their highly controversial relegation from the Premier League in 2007. Since that disaster befell them, they've suffered one further relegation and four failed play-off attempts. This season they seem to have taken a step backwards and are down in 11th some six points off the top six. Despite this, they should still bring a large and vocal following so the atmosphere should be good if nothing else. (League One, Saturday 19 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Barnet v Oxford United - the Bees haven't created many headlines this season as they haven't done much of note. Floating around lower midtable, they've largely kept themselves out of trouble which is commendable for a club of their size. However, in recent weeks, Martin Allen's side have started to build up a head of steam, losing only twice in 10 games. Although still only in 15th, they are 20 points clear of the relegation zone but only nine points off the play-offs. Could an unthinkable run into the top seven be on the cards? If so, Oxford simply must be beaten. Second at the time of writing, the U's are having a good year and have also made it to the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final so will be formidable opponents. (League Two, Saturday 19 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Hampton & Richmond Borough v Billericay Town - much has been made of the twists and turns in the Isthmian League title race of late and for good reason as they keep on coming. Two weeks ago, Hampton lost to fellow contenders Tonbridge giving the advantage back to East Thurrock who had been held by Dulwich. Since then, Borough have won three on the bounce and opened a five-point lead at the top. Are they the team to finally break away and make sure of that one automatic promotion spot? While the aforementioned clubs were all fighting among themselves, Essex club Billericay have climbed back into the top five and although probably too far back to mount a meaningful title challenge, they've still got plenty to play for and can make it difficult for the others. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 19 March, 3pm. Club info)

7. Cray Wanderers v Thurrock - with leaders AFC Sudbury almost home and dry, the battle for the play-off places is really starting to hot up. While visitors Thurrock are second and in possession of a nice nine-point cushion over sixth place, Cray are looking more vulnerable in fourth. Both these sides are used to bigger and better things with Thurrock a sixth-tier side until as recently as 2012. To me, Cray's relegation from the Isthmian Premier in 2014 also came as a little bit of surprise. I'm hoping for some goals on Tuesday as they are the two highest scoring teams in the division with 170 goals from 76 games. One other notable fact - Cray Wanderers are the oldest team in TLFG's catchment area having been formed in 1860. (Isthmian League Division 1 North, Tuesday 15 March, 745pm. Club info)

8. Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Camberley Town - the game of the week in the Combined Counties League takes place just to the south of Heathrow Airport, not far from Terminal 4. Ashford have been in a two-horse race for the title with leaders Hartley Wintney for some time now. Although on level points, the Hampshire club have four games in hand courtesy of their decent run in the FA Vase. As a result, second is looking increasingly likely to be as good as it's going to get for Ashford. Only the top team have any real guarantee of promotion but to have any chance, then second must be kept hold of. Camberley finished second last year, just ahead of Ashford, and are up in fourth at the moment. They too have several games in hand so the top four could well get a lot tighter. (Combined Counties League Premier Division, Saturday 19 March, 3pm. Club info)

9. Sporting Bengal United v Clapton both are coasting along fairly nicely in midtable which although unexciting is a marked achievement for sides who have often struggled in recent years. I've gone for this as it's an East End derby and will probably produce one of the best atmospheres at any ninth-tier game in the country this weekend. The hosts play at the Mile End Stadium and were formed, unsurprisingly, by the members of the large local Bengali community. Although the team isn't restricted to Bengalis alone, the club's roots are evident. Clapton have created loads of headlines over the last couple years for the growing band of left-wing, anti-fascist ultras that follow the team around east London and Essex. I've been to two of their games this season and they just never stop singing. On the last occasion I went, they played Tower Hamlets (who groundshare with SBU) and took well over 300 fans to a Friday night away game - something many Football League clubs would struggle to do. Located at probably the most centrally located non-league ground in London, give this one a go if you're looking for something a little different. (Essex Senior League, Saturday 19 March, 3pm. Club info)

10. Rayners Lane v Penn & Tylers Green - the Lane are a bit of a forgotten club as this blog goes. By some quirk of geography, the club within a stone's throw of Harrow Borough have somehow ended up in the Hellenic League Division 1 East where they must be the most easterly club by some distance. Primarily for teams in the Thames Valley and Gloucestershire, it's really weird how they've ended up where they are. Despite this, they often seem to win the title. Although not quite there this year, they are still in fifth and in with a mathematical chance of honours. On Saturday they welcome the leaders so if they are going to challenge, this is the time to strike. (Hellenic League Division 1 East, Saturday 19 March, 3pm. Club info)

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.

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