Sunday 19 February 2017

TLFG: 20-26 February 2017

As someone who likes to champion the non-league game and FA cup competitions, it's been quite a week both locally and nationally.

The top story was definitely National League Lincoln City's shock 1-0 FA Cup win over Premier League Burnley at Turfmoor on Saturday. Elsewhere, Millwall claimed their third Premier League scalp of the season as they grabbed a late winner against Leicester City to also make the quarter-finals.

Of the big boys, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur made comfortable progress while Manchester City were held at Huddersfield.

But perhaps the biggest story of all could take place tomorrow when Sutton United, another National League side, look to cause one of the biggest upsets in FA Cup history when they host Arsenal live on TV (BBC One, 755pm). 

The ticket deal of the week is to be found at Charlton
It was also FA Vase quarter-final weekend where London's last remaining club Southall finally bowed out at home to highly rated Cleethorpes Town. It was a fantastic achievement by the 10th-tier club to make it to the last eight and hopefully they'll push on for promotion in the Spartan South Midlands League.

With the Sutton game out of the way, this Saturday sees the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy. We're fortunate in London to have two sides left in the competition and both Boreham Wood and Dulwich Hamlet have landed tough but very attractive home ties. As a result, my focus on the non-league games you can watch this weekend is largely dominated by these so I strongly recommend you get to one of them if you can.

Aside from all this, there's loads more great football to watch with matches every day this week including good options on Thursday, Friday and Sunday which we don't often have so fill your boots.

Buy tickets for Non-League Finals Day and you could win some for the FA Cup Final
I'll be at QPR v Wigan on Tuesday and will probably be at Dulwich v Macclesfield on Saturday. Barkingside v Clapton on Friday is also very tempting but getting permission to see three matches in a week is surely impossible??? Watch this space...

Lastly, given the FA Vase and Trophy chat above, don't forget that tickets for Non-League Finals Day at Wembley on Sunday 21 May are now on sale. It's only £25 for adults and £1 for kids to see the two finals played back-to-back. Also, if you buy before the end of February the you could win tickets for this season's FA Cup Final so don't delay!

There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Premier League, Europa League, EFL, FA Cup, FA Trophy and several minor league and county cup competitions.

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

Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange 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 20 February

FA Cup fifth round
Sutton United v Arsenal @755pm - simply writing this fixture seems odd but a non-league team from south London are taking on one of the biggest clubs in the country in a last 16 tie of the FA Cup. The U's have had to win five ties to get this far, beating Forest Green Rovers, Dartford, Cheltenham Town, AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United. The Gunners represent a big step up in class but how seriously will they take it? Under pressure manager Arsene Wenger must realise this is his only realistic chance of silverware this season and shouldn't take any chances with his team selection but he often does - anything less than victory will be disastrous

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Fulham @7pm - tickets for the match at Sutton are long gone but you should have better luck getting one for this U23 game at the London Stadium. Tickets are £5 for adults but must be booked in advance - annoyingly I can't find any cut off time on the West Ham website so book online as soon as you can if you're interested in visiting the Hammers' new home


Tuesday 21 February

Queens Park Rangers v Wigan Athletic @745pm - QPR picked up their first win in six games with a stunning 4-1 win at Birmingham City on Saturday. That result will hopefully push a few more wavering fans towards Loftus Road on Tuesday where tickets for this game against the struggling Latics should be in plentiful supply. Re-sale tickets are going for below face value on Twickets if you fancy a club-approved bargain

League One
Millwall v Chesterfield @745pm - from a London perspective, the Lions are the team of the moment in this division. Their fantastic victory over Premier League champions Leicester in the FA Cup on Saturday extended their unbeaten run to 13 matches in all competitions. A win over struggling Chesterfield on Tuesday could lift them to fifth
Charlton Athletic v Oxford United @745pm - elsewhere in the division we have this midtable clash. Both have games in hand which may give them an outside chance of making the play-offs but they both need to start winning regularly

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Bromley @745pm - the cheap tickets on offer as part of the Daggers' anti-racism day proved a big draw as they got their biggest crowd of the season on Saturday. However, lowly Guiseley ruined the party by notching an unlikely 2-1 win. With Lincoln creating FA Cup history elsewhere, John Still's side missed the chance to go joint top. On Tuesday they have another chance when they take on midtable Bromley in this derby

Middlesex Senior Cup semi-finals
Hendon v Wealdstone @745pm - we're down to the last four in one of our local county cups and we've got a couple of derbies to look forward to. The Greens and Stones used to play much closer together and be in the same division so these games had quite a bit of spice to them. With Wealdstone now back up in the National League South and Hendon ailing at the wrong end of the Ryman Premier, there should only be one winner...
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Hanworth Villa @745pm - on paper, the mismatch in this game is even bigger with three divisions separating the sides. Hampton, if playing a full strength team, should win at a canter but boss Rufus Brevett (he of former QPR and Fulham fame) has done really well at Hanworth this season and they come into the game on a great run of form

London Senior Cup second round
Redbridge v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - it used to be traditional that most of the capital's pro clubs entered sides in local county cup competitions but sadly it has become a rarity. Thankfully the Dons are still doing it to lend a bit of extra interest to this competition. Although they can play their full first team, it's more likely to be a development side but you could see one or two senior squad members if you're lucky

Ryman League Division 1 South
Greenwich Borough v Hythe Town @745pm - the tense battle for play-off places continues on Tuesday with this match between the sides currently in fourth and sixth. At this level, only the top side goes up automatically and the clubs in second to fifth play-off

Southern League Division 1 Central
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Royston Town @745pm - the Tangerines are having a pretty mediocre campaign but are in no danger of relegation. The main reason to watch this one is to take a look at visitors Royston who are top and looking for promotion. The last game between them shortly before Christmas produced eight goals (5-3 to Royston) so hopefully we'll get more of the same


Wednesday 22 February

Ryman League Division 1 South
Cray Wanderers v Tooting & Mitcham United @745pm - with eight league wins on the bounce, Tooting seem to be building a real head of steam as they look to return to the Ryman Premier. Sadly they can't shake off Dorking Wanderers who are second, just three points behind. On Wednesday they face a tricky trip to Bromley for this game against a side whose outside hopes of a play-off place could hinge on getting a decent result here


Thursday 23 February

Europa League
Tottenham Hotspur v Gent @805pm - with a place in the last 16 up for grabs, Spurs need to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit in front of another big crowd at Wembley where this match will be played


Friday 24 February

Premier League Cup
Fulham v Charlton Athletic @7pm - there's quite a decent selection of Friday night football this week. If you want to see some of the pros of the future then this U23 game at Fulham's training ground is the match for you. A TLFG reader went to a game here a while back and reported that the facilities for spectators were good with seats and refreshments available. It's usually £3 on the gate to get in so give it a go

Ryman League Division 1 North
Thurrock v Bowers & Pitsea @745pm - if you're looking for a game with a bit more riding on it then this Essex derby between sides fighting for a play-off place should tick a few boxes

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Clapton @745pm - alternatively if atmosphere is what you're after then, ironically, this ninth-tier game could well provide the most as the title-chasing Tons with their vocal ultras make the short journey to Seven Kings for this east London derby


Saturday 25 February

Premier League
Chelsea v Swansea City @3pm - the Blues seem to be walking to the title as the teams below them continue to slip up. Comfortably through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup as well, Chelsea will start this match as strong favourites. Although in the lower reaches all season, the Swans have won four of their last six under new manager Paul Clement as they've impressively hoisted themselves up to 15th in the table. It's also worth noting that Swansea are unbeaten in three against the Stamford Bridge club so any complacency will need to be nipped in the bud by Antonio Conte
Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough @3pm - Sam Allardyce's side face another crucial relegation six-pointer on Saturday as fellow strugglers Boro pay a visit. With only one league win in 11, the Eagles are in terrible shape and really must win here to stop their already shattered morale completely collapsing. Although only three points above their hosts, Middlesbrough are only in this position because they have become the draw specialists of the division (10 from 25) and are therefore quite tough to beat
Watford v West Ham United @530pm - in the day's late game we have a derby between two midtable clubs. The Hornets managed to arrest a worrying run of defeats and should now have enough to avoid the drop for another season. The Hammers were also in a bad way but have fought back brilliantly to break into the top 10. This match is, therefore, little more than a battle for places and bragging rights

Brentford v Rotherham United @3pm - although in the lower reaches of the table, the Bees look to be safe for another season which is no mean feat for one of the smallest clubs in the division. On Saturday they welcome the bottom club who are 15 points adrift of safety and seemingly doomed

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Walsall @3pm - up among the play-off contenders earlier in the season, avoiding the relegation places is now the priority for the Dons as a five-game winless run has left them only five points above the relegation places. Walsall still have an outside chance of a play-off place so they should start as marginal favourites
Charlton Athletic v Bury @3pm - the bargain of the day is to be found at The Valley where the Addicks are charging a flat price of just £5 for all tickets. It's just as well as the hosts have little to play for, being eight points from both the play-off and relegation places. Bury, on the other hand, are fighting to avoid relegation

League Two
Barnet v Cambridge United @3pm - with four points from two games this week, the Bees have kept themselves firmly in contention for a coveted top-seven place. Cambridge are only just behind them in the table so there's plenty to play for as the season moves towards its final quarter
Leyton Orient v Cheltenham Town @3pm - after the joy of a hugely surprising win at Plymouth on Tuesday, the O's crashed back down to earth with a home defeat to fellow strugglers Notts County on Saturday. The result left them in the bottom two and three points adrift of safety. Next up they welcome the Robins who are one of two catchable teams just above them. They must win this one!

FA Trophy Quarter-Finals
Boreham Wood v Lincoln City @3pm - with Wembley looming for the final eight teams, the stakes are rising. The Wood have, on paper, the toughest opponents left in the competition with the National League leaders and vanquishers of Burnley heading to Meadow Park. The Imps have never lost to Boreham Wood and are looking great at the moment but will their FA Cup heroics prove to be a distraction???
Dulwich Hamlet v Macclesfield Town @3pm - over at Champion Hill, the lowest ranked team remaining in the competition welcome former third-tier side Macclesfield for another massive game. The Hamlet knocked out National League side Braintree in the last round so shouldn't find the challenge of the Silkmen insurmountable. This game could well draw a close to sell-out crowd so you are advised to buy in advance


Sunday 26 February

EFL Cup Final
Manchester United v Southampton @430pm - the season's first bit of silverware is up for grabs at Wembley on Sunday. The Red Devils will be looking to win the cup for a fifth time and they'll start as strong favourites against an out-of-sorts Saints side who last made the final in 1979

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City @130pm - now 10 points off the pace in the Premier League, the title looks to have gone for third-placed Spurs but mathematically it's still very much on. A win against a tough Potters side won't be easy to get but is a necessity

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Cray Valley PM v Ashford United @3pm - the hosts welcome Ashford twice this week in the cup and league. Ashford are top at the time of writing while Cray are having a decent season back in sixth

FA Women's Super League 2
Millwall Lionesses v Sheffield Ladies @2pm - the women's game of the day takes place at Fisher's ground in Rotherhithe where Millwall play their first home match of the new season

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. 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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