Monday, 11 April 2016

TLFG: 11-17 April 2016

After another action packed few days, the blog has taken a bit of a backseat and that's why it's arriving on Monday morning - apologies.

The week has again featured planning meetings ahead of Non-League Finals Day and also working with Goalshouter (GS) who have entered into a partnership with my Non-League Day organisation (different to the aforementioned event which belongs to the FA). I don't want to bore you with details of that right now but if your club could make do with a free annual subscription to Goalshouter then get in touch as soon as possible as we have a few available.

Being new to London, I took one of the GS team to the derby between QPR and Charlton on Saturday. 

Having finished work at Waterloo at 2pm, I managed to dash across to Shepherd's Bush in time to meet him, walk to the ground and buy a ticket on the gate.

It was alarming to be told there were only restricted view seats available as Loftus Road is famous for having some of the worst seats in this category anywhere in the country.

Our restricted view at Loftus Road on Saturday wasn't too bad
However, on taking up our positions in Block X of Ellerslie Road (where I once had a season ticket), I found the views were no worse than some so-called normal seats. With a fraction of the goal in front of the Loft slightly obscured by a pillar, the significantly cheaper ticket was looking well worth it and I would seriously consider buying it again. 

With QPR sitting snugly in 11th, this would be the first late-season game I'd attended in about six years where Rangers had absolutely nothing to play for. I'd become accustomed to watching tense matches which had decided title wins, play-off glory, that game which gave Manchester City the Premier League title in 2012 and kept us up and sadly some terrible performances which had led to a couple of abject relegations. It was a pleasure to just be able to sit in the stands and enjoy a game of football.

Unfortunately for the Addicks, the opposite was true. Second from bottom and well adrift of safety, a win was absolutely essential for a club which had struggled both on and off the pitch this season. With the fans desperate to get rid of their Belgian owner, who has run the club very badly in their opinion, I was interested to see how many would come.

In years gone by, the away end would have been largely full for a game between our sides but tickets were only sold in the top tier this time and there was still space available there. 

With the stage set, the game commenced and produced a reasonably entertaining spectacle. Although there were lulls in proceedings, the teams were pretty evenly matched and both created chances.

The opener fell to QPR in first half injury-time when Matt Phillips's speculative cross to the far post evaded everyone, confused goalkeeper Nick Pope (a man with time at Harrow Borough on his CV) and dropped inside the far post. There were a few furious appeals, presumably for off-side but the referee was unmoved.

On the subject of Matt Phillips - I personally really rate him but scores of QPR fans can't stand the man. Many around me were labelling him 'useless' midway through the game despite us leading through his goal. The man may not take every chance that comes his way (e.g. the sitter he missed to make it 2-0 in this one) but he is technically one of our best. He also has one of the most ferocious shots in the country which makes him a threat almost anywhere inside the opposition's half as Crystal Palace found out last year. His goals and performances this season alone, have saved us on several occasions and I think we'd be worse off without him. 

Back to Saturday and the second half was a much more open affair. With relegation looming, Charlton threw caution to the wind and attacked with more purpose. With an injury to James Perch forcing a reshuffle of QPR's back four, the left-side, now made up entirely of unproven youngsters, became vulnerable.

With a great chance coming back off the bar, it wasn't long before the visitors were level through Jordan Cousins' low effort.

The last half hour saw plenty of chances at both ends with Charlton looking the far more likely to score. With just minutes to go, Igor Vetokele found himself through on Alex Smithies but the Rangers keeper made a crucial block and it proved decisive as substitute Nasser El-Khayati bent a superb effort into the top corner with virtually the last kick of the game to win it for QPR.

The result left Charlton 10 points adrift with only five games to go. Relegation now looks certain and it's something I take no pleasure in. The Addicks were a well run local club, punching well above their weight in the Premier League for a long time but the last 10 years have been traumatic and the immediate future looks bleak. If you're a Charlton fan, good luck.

Lastly this week, we've got another piece from 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who recently paid a visit to Isthmian League leaders Hampton & Richmond Borough. The Beavers could win the title this week so give it a read. 


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 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).

Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures

Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures

In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 11 April
Brentford v Crewe Alexandra @1pm - U21 action at Griffin Park, chance to check out one of the capital's pro-club grounds and combine with another match later in the day
Charlton Athletic v Leeds United @1pm - U21 game at The Valley, also allowing you to do a 'double'
Millwall v Barnsley @2pm - U21 fixture at The Den but a little bit later
Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland @7pm - the pick of the day's U21 games takes place at White Hart Lane in the evening
Sutton United v Bishop's Stortford @745pm - a win for Sutton will put them top of the National League South
Kingstonian v Farnborough @745pm - significant game for both clubs in the Isthmian Premier as they fight for promotion and survival respectively

Tuesday 12 April
Essex Senior Cup Final @745pm - Concord Rangers look to win the cup for the third year running and will start as favourites against Heybridge Swifts in the match at Dagenham & Redbridge
Egham Town v Fleet Town @745pm - the Sarnies, currently top, continue their quest for the Southern League Division 1 Central title against a very beatable Fleet side
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Camberley Town @745pm - with the Combined Counties League title now probably beyond them, second play third in the CCL Cup semi-final
Clapton v Bowers & Pitsea @745pm - the Tons welcome FA Vase semi-finalists Bowers to the Old Spotted Dog as the visitors look to close the gap on leaders FC Romania in the Essex Senior League

Wednesday 13 April
West Ham United v Manchester United @7pm - a big night at the Boleyn Ground where the old stadium will host its last ever FA Cup tie which, for the record, is a quarter-final replay
Crystal Palace v Everton @8pm - a win for either will pretty much guarantee Premier League survival for another season

Thursday 14 April
Crystal Palace v Sheffield United @1230pm - U21 game at Selhurst Park which could be combined with one of the day's later kick-offs
Watford v Cardiff City @7pm - U21 match at Vicarage Road allowing you to visit two Premier League grounds in a day

Saturday 16 April 
Chelsea v Manchester City @530pm - two of the biggest clubs in the land meet at Stamford Bridge but with the Premier League title out of their reach, they're playing to secure a Europa League (unlikely) and Champions League spot respectively
Charlton Athletic v Derby County @3pm - a game of equal importance at either end of the Championship, sadly it's the Addicks who are fighting to avoid the drop
Leyton Orient v Dagenham & Redbridge @3pm - East London derby with both requiring wins at either ends of the table in the fourth tier
AFC Wimbledon v Crawley Town @3pm - the Dons continue their slightly surprising push for a play-off spot in League Two
Sutton United v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - massive game in the National League South as the top two meet at Gander Green Lane, they could come into this match with only goal difference separating them
Grays Athletic v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - depending on midweek results, Hampton could seal the Isthmian League title with a win here
Enfield Town v Needham Market @3pm - in the same division, this match sees two sides scrapping for points at either end of the division
Egham Town v AFC Rushden & Diamonds @3pm - a real David and Goliath clash in the eighth tier as Egham take on a re-born former League One side whose results have dropped off sharply in recent weeks, a win could leave the hosts on the verge of the Southern League Division 1 Central title
Abbey Rangers v Worcester Park @3pm - having only joined the Combined Counties League Division 1 this season, the hosts look set for an instant promotion

Sunday 17 April
Arsenal v Crystal Palace @4pm - a London derby at the Emirates where the Gunners will need points to make sure of their Champions League place, while Palace will hopefully have their top-flight status all but secured by this point
Kingstonian v Staines Town @3pm - there's a bonus bit of Isthmian League action at Kingsmeadow on Sunday with the K's still hopeful of nicking a play-off spot
Arsenal v Sunderland @2pm - Women's FA Cup semi-final at Boreham Wood
Chelsea v Manchester City @2pm - Women's FA Cup semi-final at Staines Town

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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