Sunday, 24 April 2016

TLFG: 25 April - 2 May 2016

This weekend looked like being significant and it didn't disappoint.

In the Premier League, Leicester took another massive stride towards the title after thrashing Swansea 4-0 meaning Tottenham simply must beat West Brom on Monday to stay in with a chance. Defeat would leave them eight points adrift with three games to go, a deficit which a team of seasoned winners would find hard to overcome let alone one which hasn't won the title for 55 years.

A disappointing 0-0 draw at Sunderland saw Arsenal slip to fourth and with the Foxes winning, their already slim chances of finishing top are now over.

The biggest success story of the weekend for our top flight clubs was Crystal Palace winning their FA Cup semi-final against Watford. They will now face Manchester United in a repeat of the 1990 final in just under four weeks.

In the Championship, the only news of note was not positive as Charlton Athletic finally lost their long struggle against relegation as Brighton beat them 2-1 at The Valley.

At only £25 adults, £10 concessions and £1 U16s it looks like a great value day out
They could well be swapping places with near neighbours Millwall who are now pretty much guaranteed a League One play-off place following their 3-1 win at Bury. That result still leaves them with a mathematical chance of an automatic promotion spot but they'll have to win their last two to even think about it.

With Dagenham & Redbridge already relegated, the main news to come out League Two was AFC Wimbledon winning the derby against Leyton Orient. The slender 1-0 win has given the Dons a very strong chance of making the play-offs while at the same time condemning the O's to finish in midtable.

In the National League, with Bromley having secured a very creditable midtable finish and Welling United sadly relegated, the focus is now very much on Boreham Wood and their fight to stay up. With two wins on the bounce, including a crucial win over fellow strugglers Guiseley on Saturday, the Wood have put their fate in their own hands. However, they are only one point clear of the bottom three and travel to Welling for a derby on the final day - it will be tense.

Congratulations are due to Sutton United who claimed the National League South crown with a 2-0 win over Chelmsford on Saturday. I'm staggered it's taken them so long given they haven't lost a league game since early November. They now return to the fifth tier for the first time since 2000.

Elsewhere in the division, Dartford can still make the play-offs if midweek results go their way and they beat St Albans City in their final game. St Albans are still fighting hard to avoid relegation and are in decent form so will be no pushovers.

Like Sutton, there was also title joy for Hampton & Richmond Borough in the Isthmian League Premier Division but they put their fans through it. They needed to draw with Enfield Town to finish top but their Middlesex rivals also needed a win to nick the final play-off berth from Dulwich Hamlet if the south Londoners slipped up at struggling Needham Market.

Elsewhere, second-placed Bognor Regis could steal top spot if they beat Hendon and achieved a four-goal swing in the process. They duly won 4-0 but an Enfield goal did not materialise and the title headed to the Beveree. Dulwich did come unstuck at Needham Market but had enough points to scrape over the line. They now face Bognor in Sussex on Thursday night in the one legged semi-final.

In the Isthmian League Division 1 North, three of the four play-off places went to local clubs with Thurrock, Cray Wanderers and AFC Hornchurch all making it. In the parallel Division 1 South, Corinthian Casuals were well on course for a play-off place until Friday when they controversially had three points deducted for fielding an ineligible player way back in January. They won their final game but so did the teams above them and they cruelly missed out.

Egham Town were one of the surprise packages of the Southern League Division 1 Central season and went into the final week as contenders for top spot. Sadly it didn't quite work out for them and they finished third - still a massive achievement for a club not long out of the Combined Counties League and averaging attendances of 102. They welcome St Ives Town on Tuesday for their one legged play-off semi-final.

In the ninth and tenth tier, there are still a few issues to be settled. A title win should be a formality for Edgware Town in the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1. Three local clubs can all win the Combined Counties League Division 1 title and should all get promoted - good luck to Abbey Rangers, Bedfont & Feltham and CB Hounslow United.

In other news I had planned to take in one of Saturday's big games but ended up babysitting. Not to be defeated I made my first trip to see my local non-league side.

The Linford Christie Stadium plays host to some Middlesex County League football
Kensington Dragons play in the Middlesex County League, part of the 11th tier of English football. The day's opponents were AFC Wembley and an even game ensued at the Linford Christie Stadium - a multisport venue (i.e. there was a running track and athletics facilities) sandwiched between Hammersmith Hospital and Wormwood Scrubs.

With my three-year-old happily playing with some of the players' kids in the long jump sand pit, I was afforded plenty of time to watch the action.

To be fair, there wasn't much but the pitch was heavy and the grass long so passing was tough. The hosts eventually won 2-1 with a late goal. Sadly I missed it as I was retrieving a ball from an earlier wayward shot, something I did four or five times.

Overall, I'm a bit of a fan of this league as long-term readers will know. Over the next month, as most leagues finish, this one will keep going a bit longer and I'll add its games to the map.

For the eagle-eyed among you, this week's piece runs through until next Monday as we have another Bank Holiday with several big games taking place.

Lastly, our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' have paid a visit to Isthmian League club AFC Hornchurch - find out how they got on.

It's going to be another defining week - enjoy it! 


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 almost 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 25 April
Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion @8pm - Spurs' title challenge continues and they simply must win to keep in realistic contention
U21 Premier League Cup Final @7pm - West Ham's youngsters take on Hull City at one of the last ever games at the Boleyn Ground for the week's first piece of silverware
Waltham Forest v Bowers & Pitsea @745pm - a win for the visitors, who made the FA Vase semi-finals, will put them top of the Essex Senior League with one game to go

Tuesday 26 April
AFC Wimbledon v Portsmouth @745pm - a big game in League Two as both sides look to make sure of their play-off places
Kent Senior Cup Final @745pm - Dartford host Charlton Athletic in the second final of the week
Southern League Division 1 Central play-off semi-final @745pm - Egham Town host St Ives Town in this one legged winner takes all match

Wednesday 27 April
FA Youth Cup Final Second Leg @745pm - the U18 sides of Chelsea and Manchester City drew the first leg 1-1 meaning it's all to play for at Stamford Bridge 
Isthmian League Division 1 North play-off semi-final @745pm - Thurrock play host to local rivals AFC Hornchurch for a place in Sunday's final
Middlesex Premier Cup Final @745pm - Hillingdon Borough, former FA Trophy finalists, meet Woodford Town at Wealdstone

Thursday 28 April
London Tigers v London Colney @745pm - depending on results earlier in the week, London Colney might still have a very slim chance of winning the Spartan South Midlands League title 

Saturday 30 April 
Arsenal v Norwich City @530pm - an important game for clubs at opposite ends of the Premier League table
Brentford v Fulham @3pm - it's west London derby time in the Championship but apart from local bragging rights, there's little else to play for
Millwall doubleheader from 3pm - the men's side, still with an outside chance of automatic promotion from League One, entertain Oldham at a 3pm before the women's side play Yeovil at 630pm, one ticket will get you in for both
Dagenham & Redbridge v Crawley Town @3pm - with relegation confirmed, this will be the Daggers' last home game as a Football League club
Welling United v Boreham Wood @530pm - with the hosts already relegated from the National League, the Wood need to win this derby to make sure of avoiding the same fate
Abbey Rangers v Banstead Athletic @3pm - the hosts need to win to keep their chances of winning the Combined Counties League Division 1 title alive
Edgware Town v Arlesey Town Reserves @3pm - the Wares could secure the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 title on Tuesday night, if they don't then they almost certainly will here

Sunday 1 May
Isthmian League Division 1 North play-off final @3pm - finalists and venue to be decided
Arsenal v Birmingham City @2pm - FA Women's Super League 1 action at Boreham Wood

Monday 2 May
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur @8pm - a huge London derby with the Blues having the chance of thwarting Spurs' Premier League title hopes
The Legends: England v Germany @4pm - special 1966 commemorative match at West Ham's Boleyn Ground, it could be your last chance to visit before it closes
Middlesex Senior Charity Cup Final @3pm - Cockfosters and Hanworth Villa contest another piece of county silverware at Northwood FC
Southern Counties East League Cup Final @3pm - after a disappointing league campaign, Erith & Belvedere will hope to end the season on a high against Hollands & Blair

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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