Monday, 2 May 2016

TLFG: 3-8 May 2016

Greetings one and all, I hope you're well.

The last week has again seen a number of major issues settled as we approach the end of another season.

Leicester's fine draw at Manchester United on Sunday put them on the verge of winning the Premier League. To be stopped, Tottenham Hotspur have to win at Chelsea today (Monday) so it could all be over by the time you read this.

Arsenal edged to a 1-0 win over struggling Norwich to move up to third and can still theoretically finish above Spurs in second which would be the ultimate insult to their north London rivals given how this season has gone.

West Ham still have an outside chance of a Champions League place after winning comfortably at West Brom while at the other end, Crystal Palace still need a win to make absolutely sure of staying up.

The Championship comes to end this weekend and there's very little at stake for any of our local teams. If QPR fail to win at Burnley today (Monday) then Brentford will be crowned top London club in the division.

With Wigan and Burton claiming the two automatic promotion spots, Millwall made sure of a League One play-off place with their 3-0 win over Oldham on Saturday. In terms of this division, they play their geographically closest rivals Gillingham in their final game to decide whether they keep home advantage for those all important second legs. The Gills also need a win to make the top six themselves so it should be a cracker.

There's less than three weeks to go - have you got your tickets?
In League Two, AFC Wimbledon drew with Stevenage to earn the last play-off berth in League Two. With still one game to go their opponents in the 'post-season' are still unknown but will be one of either Accrington Stanley, Bristol Rovers or Oxford United.

Since having their relegation confirmed, Dagenham & Redbridge have gone on a winning streak with fine victories over Plymouth and Crawley which must make the fans wonder what might have been. Sadly it is too little too late and the Daggers will be in the National League next season.

Once here, they'll be able to enjoy derbies against Boreham Wood who won their crucial final game at Welling to stay up - a fine achievement by a club with the smallest crowds (avg. 544) in the division. 

The only major issue of note in the National League South for our local clubs was whether Dartford would make the play-offs. They faced a tricky trip to St Albans who were fighting hard to avoid relegation. It seems the hosts wanted it more and won 4-0 meaning the Darts missed out.

By and large, the Isthmian League play-offs proved a disappointment for TLFG clubs. With no representatives making the Division 1 South semi-finals, three of the four spots in Division 1 North were taken by our teams. However, it was Essex club Harlow Town who ultimately prevailed, beating AFC Hornchurch in the final. 

Our only hope of joy comes in the Premier Division final later today where Dulwich Hamlet travel to East Thurrock United. The Hamlet only just scraped into the play-offs because Enfield Town didn't win their final game and to me looked like underdogs against Bognor Regis in the semis. The Sussex club were on fire in the last few weeks of the season and had been scoring for fun. On Thursday, with the game goalless and well into injury time, Ashley Carew scored with a free-kick to send Gavin Rose's side through in dramatic fashion. 

East Thurrock are a tough and well organised side who should really have beaten Dulwich when they last met at Champion Hill back in February - only two injury time goals saved the hosts that day - and will be hard to beat on their own pitch. If Dulwich do win, it will be a shame to lose them from the Isthmian League but with average crowds approaching 1,400 they are arguably well ready for the next level in a way that their opponents with attendances of only 200 aren't. 

In the Southern League there was also play-off disappointment for Egham Town who did really well to finish third in the Division 1 Central before going out in the semis at home to St Ives. 

Edgware Town won the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 - a fine achievement in only their second season since re-forming. Dartford also beat Charlton to win the Kent Senior Cup and Chelsea's U18s beat Manchester City to win the FA Youth Cup.

With most non-league football now concluded, the week ahead sees a massive drop off in the amount of games that you can watch and as a result I've bulked it out with some 11th tier games from the Middlesex County, Herts Senior County, Essex Olympian, Kent County and Surrey Elite Intermediate Leagues which should give you the chance to experience some new teams and unusual venues.

The week ahead, as far as the Premier League is concerned, will really all revolve around whether Spurs can beat Chelsea today (Monday). If they do, then their game against Southampton could become huge. 

The biggest game in the Football League taking place locally is Charlton Athletic v Burnley. Although the Addicks are down, Burnley may well win the title if they come away with three points here.

The other two highlights for me are the London and Middlesex Senior Cup Finals at Metropolitan Police and Uxbridge's grounds respectively. I'm a big fan of these competitions and they often represent the best chance of silverware most non-league sides get during a season. 

There are also two big U21 games this week at Arsenal and Chelsea. Both teams will be playing at their main stadiums (i.e. the Emirates and Stamford Bridge) and tickets are on general sale which means non-members will have a rare chance to see a game there. Tickets are really cheap but you must buy them in advance - there won't be any sales on the night in either case.

Lastly, we've got another ground visit to enjoy reading from our friends at 'Two Men In Search...' who went to Rayners Lane to watch their Middlesex Charity Cup semi-final against Cockfosters. I shamefully have to admit to having grown up a few minutes drive away from the Tithe Farm, passed it many times but still have never been to a game there. With Harrow Borough and Wealdstone dominating non-league football in that part of London and for some reason playing in the Hellenic League, they are very much the forgotten club in the locale.

That's it from me. Let me know how you get on on your football travels and as always, enjoy it!

There are over 40 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).

Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday 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.

Tuesday 3 May
Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers @7pm - U21 Premier League Division 2 play-off semi-final at the Emirates, great chance to see a game at one of the big grounds for just £4 (must buy online by 3pm on the day)
London Senior Trophy Final @730pm - Glebe (10th tier) take on Tooting Bec (11th tier) for some silverware at Enfield Town's ground

Wednesday 4 May
Premier League International Cup Final @7pm - the U21 sides of PSV Eindhoven and Villarreal meet at Millwall where it's just £3 to get in
London Senior Cup Final @745pm - Tooting & Mitcham United play Hendon at Met Police's Imber Court in a repeat of last year's final which the Greens won 
Molesey v Camberley Town @745pm - a little further up the road, these two contest a Southern Combination Cup semi-final

Thursday 5 May
Broadfields United v Hillingdon Borough @745pm - a local derby in the Spartan South Midlands League being played at Harefield United's ground

Friday 6 May
Chelsea v Manchester United @705pm - the recently crowned U21 Premier League champions visit Stamford Bridge to play the Blues in their final game of the season (tickets must be bought by 4pm on match day)

Saturday 7 May 
Crystal Palace v Stoke City @3pm - a win for the hosts will see them avoid relegation from the Premier League
Charlton Athletic v Burnley @1230pm - the Addicks are already down but a win for the Clarets could see them finish top of the Championship
AFC Wimbledon v Newport County @3pm - the Dons go into their final game having already secured a League Two play-off place
Middlesex Senior Cup Final @3pm - Northwood start as underdogs against Enfield Town at Uxbridge's ground
Epsom Athletic v CB Hounslow United @3pm - depending on results earlier in the week, the visitors could wrap up the Combined Counties Division 1 title here

Sunday 8 May
Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton @130pm - if Spurs beat Chelsea on Monday, then they'll need to win this to keep their Premier League title hopes alive
Chelsea v Liverpool @2pm - FA Women's Super League 1 action 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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