Sunday 26 February 2017

TLFG: 27 February - 5 March 2017

Last Sunday I bravely stated that I might get to see three games this week. In the end I only went to one.

I had a ticket for QPR's win over Wigan on Tuesday but after my four-year-old had a really bad night on Monday, I was too exhausted to go to the match (I'd been awake for 40 hours by the time of kick-off) so had to give it a miss. My next possible outing was Barkingside v Clapton on Friday night but the friend I would've gone with couldn't make it, after a late shift change at work, so I ended up on Saturday at Champion Hill.

Despite not being a Dulwich Hamlet fan, I've got an incredibly soft spot for them and visit several times a season. After watching them defeat Braintree in the FA Trophy a couple of weeks ago, Saturday saw them welcome former Football League club Macclesfield Town for a quarter-final tie.

Playing two divisions below the Silkmen, Dulwich came into the match as the lowest-ranked team left in the competition and as such started as underdogs.

A packed Champion Hill enjoys Dulwich's FA Trophy tie against Macclesfield
With over 2,800 packing out the small stadium in south-east London, the match got off to a very bad start for the hosts with two well taken goals, one a howitzer of a free-kick from close to 35 yards, by former Plymouth midfielder Luke Summerfield putting Macclesfield 2-0 up inside 20 minutes. 

Thankfully Gavin Rose's side rallied, pulled one back through Quade Taylor and went in at the interval just a goal behind.

The second half was largely dominated by Dulwich but they couldn't find another breakthrough. It all looked over when the visitors had the ball in the net for a third time but it was ruled out for offside.

With the game into its final few minutes and an equaliser proving elusive, the regulars around me all seemed resigned to a valiant defeat. Then with three minutes to go, a defender's high clearance got held by the wind and fell nicely for the Dulwich midfield who set up the on-rushing Ashley Carew to calmly bend a shot into the corner from 20 yards to earn an unexpected but thoroughly deserved replay.

It's free entry for women and girls at Enfield Town on Saturday
This will take place on Tuesday up in Cheshire so if you fancy being part of this huge night see the club's website for more details about coach travel or get yourself on a train from Euston station.

With Lincoln City, Tranmere Rovers and York City winning the other quarter-finals, the victors will face an incredibly difficult opponent in the two-legged semi-finals which begin in two weeks time.

I'm heading on to late shifts this week so no games for me but before I sign off I'd like to give a special mention to Enfield Town who will be offering free entry to women and girls for their big Ryman League match against Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday to mark International Women's Day - a great gesture.

There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Premier League, EFL, National League 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
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 27 February

Ryman League Division 1 North
Aveley v Bury Town @745pm - both sides were strong contenders for a play-off place but they've slipped back towards midtable recently. It's not all over for either of them though and with a game or two in hand could still close the gap


Tuesday 22 February

League One
Millwall v Peterborough United @745pm - the Lions extended their unbeaten run to 15 games with a draw at Oldham on Saturday. The failure to win saw them remain just outside the play-off places but they cut the gap on Southend nonetheless. Posh are just below them in the table so this is an important one

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Maidstone United @745pm - the Daggers are the capital's highest ranked non-league club, challenging strongly for the National League title. After having the weekend off they welcome Kent club Maidstone who many thought could be challengers themselves. A former Football League club, the Stones went bust, reformed and over the last couple of years have enjoyed back-to-back promotions to get up from the Ryman League. It hasn't worked out for them and they're struggling but they're still attracting big crowds and should travel in decent numbers
Sutton United v Boreham Wood @745pm - if you were impressed by the U's recent FA Cup exploits then get down to Gander Green Lane for this derby against Boreham Wood. The cup run has left Sutton with a few games in hand which they need to win to make sure of their place in the division but The Wood have become a bogey team this season - they've met three times already and Sutton have yet to score

National League South
Welling United v Dartford @745pm - although in the division below, this derby is a much bigger deal than the one above and should draw a larger crowd. In recent years, the clubs were vying with each other for promotion but this year they are scrapping for points at either end of the table. The Wings, after a terrible start, have pulled clear of the bottom three but can't relax just yet after going three without a win. Dartford, on the other hand, are third and looking likely to claim a play-off place but they have suddenly gone two without victory themselves

Ryman League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Harrow Borough @745pm - two of the smaller clubs in the division, this won't draw a big crowd but there is a derby feel to this game. Despite their size, Wingate have defied the odds again and sensationally moved into the play-off places after winning at Leiston on Saturday. Harrow, however, are still not clear of the relegation dog fight and were pretty dismal during their defeat to bottom club Grays but they have games in hand and are a match for anyone in the division on their day

Essex Senior League
Barking v FC Romania @745pm - the Blues will have had 10 days off by the time this game comes round but none of their challengers have taken advantage and they're still sitting pretty, seven points clear at the top. FC Romania are fourth but nine points behind and have played three games more so look unlikely to bridge the gap. The last time the sides played about six weeks ago, Barking won 5-2 so a home win looks highly likely again

U23 friendly
Brentford B v Crystal Palace U23 @1pm - you could begin the day with a trip to the Bees' training ground near Osterley Tube station for this friendly. Check with the club on the day to make sure the public will be admitted


Wednesday 1 March

Ryman League Division 1 South
Cray Wanderers v Corinthian Casuals @745pm - as members of the division's current top 10, both clubs still have realistic hopes of promotion. They fought out a 1-1 draw back in mid-January so it's likely to be tight again


Friday 3 March

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur @2pm - the U23 sides of these two great north London rivals meet at the Gunners' training ground at lunchtime. I'd be stunned if this was open to the public as games at this venue rarely are but there's nothing on Arsenal's website to suggest this is the case. If you are tempted by a trip to London Colney, please check before you travel to make sure you can get in


Saturday 4 March

Premier League
Watford v Southampton @3pm - there's only one Premier League game in town on Saturday and it's this midtable clash. The Hornets are coasting along nicely with only one defeat in six while the Saints are on a pretty dodgy run but they did win their last game and could come into this match as League Cup winners depending on how things go against Manchester United. There appear to be a few tickets left so act fast to secure one

Fulham v Preston North End @3pm - currently in seventh and eighth these two represent the best of the rest in the second tier. The Cottagers once again failed to take full advantage of the teams just above them losing by only drawing with Cardiff, meaning they're still five points adrift of that all-important sixth place. PNE enjoyed a 2-1 win over QPR to extend their unbeaten run to five games, making this a tough one to predict
Queens Park Rangers v Cardiff City @3pm - neither of these midtable sides will make the play-offs so this is more about the managers who are two of the biggest personalities in the English game. Ian Holloway and Neil Warnock are two of the most outspoken bosses in the country and are perhaps a little unorthodox  in their approaches. They are also both revered at Loftus Road having both led QPR to promotion during their careers

League One
Millwall v MK Dons @3pm - as mentioned above, Millwall could be 16 games unbeaten by the time this one comes round and in the top six. More interestingly is the transformation MK Dons have undergone since mid-December when new boss Robbie Neilson took over. The young Scottish manager has changed an ailing team into one that has only lost two of its last 10 league games as they've moved into midtable. The last meeting between the sides back in August produced a 2-2 draw

National League
Boreham Wood v Bromley @3pm - these two local clubs fought an exciting battle for the National League South title a couple of years ago which Bromley ultimately won. Thankfully for The Wood, they won the play-offs and went up too. They both consolidated at the higher level last season and are comfortably holding their own again this time round with only two points between them at the time of writing

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Havant & Waterlooville @3pm - the Towners looked well placed for another shot at the play-offs but five defeats in their last eight games has seen them fall to eighth. However, with none of the top teams showing any real consistency, they're still only four points off the pace. Havant are currently in second and have two games in hand on leaders Bognor which if won would put them four points clear so this is a big game for both. It's also free entry for women and girls to mark International Women's Day so there should be a decent crowd

Ryman League Division 1 North
AFC Hornchurch v Cheshunt @3pm - the Urchins are having a great season and by my calculations have only lost one of their last 23 league games. Despite this, they're still only in third as they have drawn many more games than the two above them. The visitors are also in the top five and held Hornchurch to a 2-2 draw earlier in the season

Ryman League Division 1 South
Carshalton Athletic v Greenwich Borough @3pm - with Tooting and Dorking Wanderers having seemingly turned the title contest into a two-horse race, it's all about the battle for third with these two the next in the table. The Robins won the reciprocal fixture 2-0 but with Greenwich in better form they should start as marginal favourites

Sunday 5 March

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton @130pm - if Spurs beat Stoke they could come into this game as second in the table. The Toffees are on a very tidy nine game unbeaten run which has lifted them to seventh at the time of writing. The match between the sides at Goodison Park in August ended in a 1-1 draw and I doubt there'll be much between the teams here

FA Women's Premier League Cup semi-final
Charlton Athletic v Blackburn Rovers @2pm - the FA WPL effectively forms the third tier of the women's game in this country with parallel Northern and Southern divisions. This match, being played in Thamesmead, pits the team who are currently third in the south against the leaders of the north so this should be a decent contest

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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