Sunday, 6 March 2016

TLFG: 7-13 March 2016

I'm pleased to say it's been a less hectic week so this is coming out a bit earlier than last week's piece.

There still seems to be a lot going on nonetheless. 

The big match of the week saw Spurs and Arsenal cancel each other out, allowing Leicester to move five points clear at the top of the Premier League. 

London team of the moment, though, are West Ham who won three games in a week to stay firmly in the hunt for a surprise Champions League place.

In the Championship it was a fairly forgettable week for most of our sides except struggling Charlton who managed to claim a precious derby win at Brentford to give their beleaguered fans some hope of avoiding the drop.

Millwall stayed on course for a play-off spot in League One after drawing with title contenders Wigan and then disposing of Blackpool in comfortable fashion on Saturday.

Tickets are now available
In the fourth tier, AFC Wimbledon jumped above Leyton Orient into the play-off places after holding fellow promotion hopefuls Accrington to a 0-0 draw. At the bottom, seemingly doomed Dagenham & Redbridge ground out a crucial 1-0 win over fellow strugglers York. They also picked up a point against Notts County in midweek but they are still seven points adrift with 12 games to go.

Of our local non-league clubs, Sutton United kept hold of second place in the National League South with a win at St Albans while Hampton & Richmond Borough thrashed Canvey Island to stay second in the Isthmian League Premier Division. Dulwich Hamlet picked up a point at Wingate & Finchley to stay in the play-off places but their title challenge seems to be fading.

In the eighth to 10th tiers, loads of our local teams are doing well so it looks like being a pretty decent year for London clubs.

I'm off to see QPR v Derby County on Tuesday and depending on work commitments (I won't find out until 36 hours before) and ticket availability, I might make it to the derby against Brentford. Failing that, there are potentially one or two non-league games I could make it to as well.

It's also been great this week to receive a few emails from readers asking for help and advice with planning their trips to London. Keep them coming.

Lastly, a quick mention for the charity match at Champion Hill between Dulwich Hamlet and FC Assyria - the game was supposed to happen last week but got rained off. They're having another go on Wednesday so pop along if you're free.

I think that's it from me, time to get ready for work.

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 100 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).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
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 - for the second week running, the top match was an easy pick. Two of the richest clubs on the planet meet for this delicately poised Champions League tie. The French side hold a slender 2-1 aggregate lead after winning the first leg in Paris. Although Chelsea have massively improved under Guus Hiddink, they are still some way off their best as demonstrated by their failure to beat Stoke at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. PSG are dominating Ligue 1, opening a 23-point lead, but they've suddenly gone winless in two to show some weakness. The bookies see them as favourites and they also knocked Chelsea out at the same stage last season. (Champions League, Wednesday 9 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

2. Arsenal v Watford - following their replay victory at Hull, the Gunners will play the Hornets in the next round of the FA Cup on Sunday afternoon. Normally you'd expect the hosts to win, especially since they've won every meeting between the clubs since 1988, but this year it could be different. Arsene Wenger's side are on paper a great one but they're going through a wobbly patch right now with the victory over Hull ending a five-game winless streak. Although down in midtable, Watford are more than a match for anyone this year and with very little pressure on them could very conceivably cause an upset. You'll need membership to sit with the Arsenal fans but getting some for the away end looks possible because Watford have been given a whopping 9,000 tickets. After Hornets members have had first pick, the rest will go on general sale at 4pm on Thursday. I'm tempted. (FA Cup Quarter-Final, Sunday 13 March, 130pm. Ticket info)

3. Queens Park Rangers v Brentford - after a wait of nearly 13 years, it was also very easy to pick the game of the week in the Football League. Usually separated by a division or two, this is the first season in a while that these two west London rivals have competed against each other at Loftus Road. It was the fixture that both sets of fans were looking out for back in June when the dates were published. The match at Griffin Park in October was duly picked up and shown live by Sky with the upstarts from Brentford edging to a 1-0 win over their bigger cousins from up the road. Things looked pretty rosy for the Bees around then with caretaker boss Lee Carsley doing a great job after the season had started so badly under Marinus Dijkhuizen. However, he was replaced by Dean Smith a month later and things have tailed off badly again. Although in no immediate danger of relegation, they have lost 10 of the 18 games since Smith took over. QPR have also switched managers since the last derby with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink coming in from Burton. He too has failed to carve out many wins but there have instead been plenty of draws. On paper Rangers should win but they have a hopeless record in derby matches in recent years and with the Brentford end sold out and likely to be very lively, the pressure is very much on them. There are a few tickets still available. (Championship, Saturday 12 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

4. Fulham v Burnley - the Cottagers have had a torrid time since relegation from the Premier League with both seasons outside the top flight proving to be a struggle. Down at the wrong end of the Championship for most of this campaign, things seem to be gradually improving under Slavisa Jokanovic. Recent derby wins over QPR and Charlton have lifted spirits but they are still only five points above the relegation zone. This week they have two tough and very important home games. On Saturday they play host to relegation rivals Bristol City but before that they entertain the Clarets who currently reside at the top of the table. Relegated from the Premier League last season, the Lancashire side have responded fantastically as you would probably expect. A well run club with a very level-headed manager in Sean Dyche, they have been the most consistent team going. Unbeaten in 12 in the league, their last defeat of any kind came at the Emirates where they narrowly lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup. The reverse fixture at Turfmoor in November saw a 3-1 for the hosts. (Championship, Tuesday 8 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

5. Charlton Athletic v MK Dons - the Championship gets a third game this week as there's not much on in League One and Two this week. This game at the Valley is a proverbial 'six-pointer' between two sides desperate not to return to the third tier. It's been four years since the Addicks were last down there but MK have only just come up. The visitors will start the game just above the bottom three having enjoyed a 2-0 win over QPR on Saturday in what is close to being a derby for the two sides. Things are looking much more grave for Charlton who, despite getting a great win at Brentford on Saturday, remain seven points adrift of safety. A crucial game for both. (Championship, Tuesday 8 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

6. Sutton United v Weston-Super-Mare as mentioned above, there's little on in the next few divisions so next we focus on the promotion race in the sixth tier. South London club Sutton are the form team in the National League South at the moment, recently climbing above Maidstone into second place. Unbeaten in the league since 7 November, it's looking really promising for the Gander Green Lane club. To gain automatic promotion, however, they need to finish top and leaders Ebbsfleet are a whopping 11 points clear. The good news is, Sutton have three games in hand so the title race is still alive. Down in the bottom three, WSM should provide an excellent opportunity to pick up another three points. (National League South, Saturday 12 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Wealdstone v Maidstone United the same afternoon over on the north-west side of town we have the 'Battle of the Stones'. Both sides have pretty illustrious pasts, having both been kings of the non-league scene in the '80s when their rivalry would've been at its peak. Maidstone made the jump up to the Football League at the end of that decade but folded soon after. The current side began in 1992 and they've gradually climbed the divisions to now find themselves on the verge of a return to the fifth tier. As mentioned above, they are currently third and will start as favourites against Wealdstone who are loitering around midtable. I'd expect it will produce one of the biggest crowds of the season at Grosvenor Vale. (National League South, Saturday 12 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. Northwood v Egham Town - in the eighth tier, Egham continued their promotion push with victory over Arlesey on Saturday. This week they have back-to-back derbies against Hanwell and Northwood. While Hanwell are struggling, the Woods are chasing a play-off place themselves and will be dangerous opponents. With four wins on the bounce and the knowledge they held the Sarnies to a draw at the Runnymede Stadium earlier in the season, they should come into this with some confidence. (Southern League Division 1 Central, Saturday 12 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

9. Corinthian Casuals v Hastings United - TLFG's focus on the Isthmian League has largely been held by the thrilling title race in the Premier Division but with relatively little happening in that in our area this week, we take a look at a couple of teams in Division 1 South. Alongside coastal rivals Worthing and Folkestone, Hastings are one of the biggest teams in the division and really should be in the top flight. With Folkestone running away with the title, it's looking like a play-off spot is the best the Arrows will be able to hope for. Currently fifth, the last play-off place, they are in with a good chance but it is tight. Corinthian Casuals, down in eighth, are London's main challengers and are only two points behind so will leapfrog them if they win here. The away game produced a 3-3 draw so more of the same would obviously be nice. (Isthmian League Division 1 South, Tuesday 8 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

10. Sutton Athletic v Glebe - lastly in the 10th tier, two title rivals meet in the Kent Invicta League. It's third versus first with Glebe five points ahead of their hosts but Sutton have a game in hand. A win for Sutton will therefore make the already tight battle even closer while defeat could effectively knock them out. Both sides also have midweek games so the picture could change before this takes place. (Kent Invicta League, Saturday 12 March, 3pm. Club info)


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.

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