Sunday, 12 March 2017

TLFG: 13-19 March 2017

Last week I left with you my choice of deciding whether I should go and watch QPR, Harrow Borough or Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday night.

The latter two were playing away from home and QPR were on my doorstep, they were also the most expensive option or so I thought.

After a bit of umming and ahhing I decided to investigate the QPR ticketing situation on re-sale site Twickets.

A lot has been made of re-sale sites recently with the government actually thinking of getting involved to make vastly overpriced tickets a thing of the past. Twickets are, however, different to the likes of Viagogo and StubHub as they only allow tickets to be sold for face value or less. For some reason, QPR are one of the only clubs in the country who have an official relationship with them and it was very much to my benefit.

With the R's in midtable and Tuesday night's opponents Barnsley hardly box office (no offence), there were a number of tickets available for well below face value so with walk-up prices at a staggering £37 I thought I'd give it a go. In the end I landed a seat in Ellerslie Road for £25 including fees. I then simply went to the box office who printed it out and gave it to me. Job done.

The view from my much-discounted seat at Loftus Road
The game itself was also pretty decent with chances aplenty at both ends. QPR opened a 2-0 lead midway through the second half but faded a bit, let in a goal and hung on doggedly through five minutes of injury time for well-needed 2-1 win. 

I can't really see why I'd buy through the box office again after an experience like that so I'll see what Twickets has to offer the next time I'm free for a game.

Oh and as for Harrow and Dulwich, they both lost - heavily in Harrow's case so it turned out to be the right decision in all respects.

In other news it was great to hear from TLFG reader Wayne who went to Brentford on Saturday to see their game against promotion chasing Huddersfield. Wayne - thanks a lot for the email telling me how it went and for the photos. Another reader Simon, a regular on the Facebook page, posted a picture from his visit to Colliers Wood United for the A3 derby against Raynes Park Vale - thanks to you too.

TLFG reader Wayne sent this picture from his trip to Brentford showing how close you can get to the action at Griffin Park
Lastly this week I'd like to give a special mention to all the QPR fans taking part in Tiger Feet Walk 8 on Saturday. This annual walk, which I helped set up in 2010, sees a group of supporters walk to a game to raise funds for the club's Down's syndrome football team - the QPR Tiger Cubs. Apparently we've raised more than £75,000 over the years which is pretty good going even I do say so myself. This year, they'll be walking from the club's training ground near Heathrow to Loftus Road for the match against Rotherham. It's not the most inspiring route so hopefully people will realise that and give generously. I'm working this year but might get out just in time to join them for the final mile or so.



THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Premier League, FA Cup, 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).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
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 13 March

FA Cup Quarter-Final
Chelsea v Manchester United @745pm - with Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur already through to the semi-finals, the cup will have one of the strongest last fours its ever had once this tie is resolved. Chelsea are 17 points clear of Jose Mourinho's side in the league but on current form there isn't much between them. Truly a huge game, the like of which will bring the glamour back to this great competition

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Manchester City @7pm - if you can't get a ticket for the above and don't want to watch it on TV, how about a live match at the Emirates Stadium instead? The U23 sides of these two meet at 7pm and tickets are only £4 but you must buy them online by 3pm on Monday
Fulham v West Bromwich Albion @7pm - if you've done the Emirates already or it's not handy, head down to the Cottagers' training ground in Motspur Park instead where it's only £3 and you can pay on arrival

London Senior Cup Third Round
Haringey Borough v Greenwich Borough @745pm - it's a battle of the boroughs in the county cup at Coles Park. These two play in the parallel northern and southern divisions of the Ryman League's second tier and are both chasing a play-off place in their respective competitions so it will be interesting to see who is stronger

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Tuesday 14 March

Championship

Brentford v Wolverhampton Wanderers @745pm - the Bees suffered their first defeat in five on Saturday against high-flying Huddersfield but they have the chance to put things right with this home game against Wolves. The former Premier League side have had a terrible season and were in the bottom three prior to their crucial win over bottom club Rotherham. Brentford should still have too much them and could move into the top half with victory
Fulham v Blackburn Rovers @745pm - the Cottagers pulled off one of the results of the weekend by winning 3-1 at Newcastle. They've now put a seven-game unbeaten run together and are just two points behind sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday, who they will leapfrog with victory against Rovers who, like Wolves are also threatened with relegation

League One
AFC Wimbledon v MK Dons @745pm - one of the matches of the week, this game has been several years in the making. If you don't know, the original Wimbledon FC were controversially moved by its owners to Milton Keynes back in 2003. A year later they changed their name to MK Dons and effectively became a different club and started afresh. AFC Wimbledon were founded by disgruntled fans who quite rightly disapproved of the move to Buckinghamshire and set about bringing them back up through the football pyramid. Starting off in the Combined Counties League, they've managed to make them a League One team again this year and will face their most hated opponent at home for the first time ever. The atmosphere is likely to be pretty intense and you'll find tickets very hard to come by
Charlton Athletic v Bradford City @745pm - elsewhere in the third tier, the Addicks will hope to extend their unbeaten run to three games after taking points off Scunthorpe and Walsall last week. The Bantams enjoyed a couple of seasons in the Premier League at the turn of the century and are a big club who have spent far too long in the lower tiers of the EFL for their own good. Still well in with a shout of automatic promotion, this could be a big year for them

National League
Sutton United v Forest Green Rovers @745pm - after their fantastic FA Cup run came to an end, Sutton have a few games in hand to play and this match against title-chasing FGR is up next. The visitors lost their big game against Dagenham on Saturday so will be keen to get back to winning ways here

Ryman League Premier Division
Harrow Borough v Havant & Waterlooville @745pm - the Boro have been blowing hot and cold in recent weeks with some great wins followed by some heavy defeats. While they were drawing 2-2 with Worthing on Saturday, Havant were thrashing AFC Sudbury 6-0 to go top of the table. Managed by former Manchester City and Crystal Palace striker Lee Bradbury, the Hawks are on course to bounce back into the National League South after relegation last season

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Wednesday 15 March

League Two
Barnet v Yeovil Town @8pm - the top match of the night doesn't have a huge amount riding on it. Both sides are firmly in midtable although you could argue the Bees still have an outside chance of the play-offs. However, with only one win in 10 their form suggests otherwise. If nothing else, it's a good chance to visit The Hive if you haven't been already

Essex Senior League
Wadham Lodge v Barking @745pm - the Blues travel to Walthamstow on Wednesday looking to extend their lead at the top to nine points. Wadham have had a slightly disappointing season and on paper Barking should win

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Southall v Baldock Town @745pm - the hosts have a very slim chance of winning promotion this year so they'll need to win here against Baldock who could still take the title themselves

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Thursday 16 March

London Senior Cup Quarter-Finals
Cray Valley PM v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - as I've mentioned on here before, it used to be commonplace for pro clubs to enter sides in county cup competitions and as a youngster I have memories of some big occasions at Harrow. That trend, particularly in London, has sadly died out amongst most of the big clubs so I doff my cap to clubs like Wimbledon who continue to do so. Although the Dons are only likely to field a development side, it's still a great opportunity for a ninth-tier club like CVPM to pit their wits against some pros

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Friday 17 March

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Ilford @745pm - Friday night football is becoming a bit of a thing in the ESL and I love it. It's a great chance for some of the smaller clubs on the east side of town to grab a bit of the limelight when there's little else on. I went to Tower Hamlets v Clapton last season which drew a big crowd and produced a cracking game. Rather than sit at home and watch EastEnders on TV, head down to Mile End and become one for the night!

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Saturday 18 March

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Watford @3pm - after weeks of waiting it seems the 'Big Sam effect' might finally be happening. With two wins on the bounce, Palace have moved out of the bottom three and their fans are daring to dream of survival once again. With only two victories in 10, Watford are just the kind of side they'll fancy their chances of beating too
West Ham United v Leicester City @3pm - the Hammers are in no real danger of doing anything this season now that a midtable finish would seem to have been secured. The 3-2 defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday shows they are still a bit suspect at the back which is something a resurgent Leicester could capitalise on so they need to be wary

Championship
Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers @3pm - with back-to-back home games against struggling Blackburn and Wolves, the Cottagers will be kicking themselves if they don't end the week in the top six. Games between these two are usually action packed with the last five producing a whopping 25 goals!
Queens Park Rangers v Rotherham United @3pm - revamped by the January transfer window, Ian Holloway's side have improved a lot of late. With genuine competition for places throughout the squad, they've produced some entertaining displays and were seen by many to have shaded the 0-0 draw at Leeds on Saturday. Rotherham. on the other hand. must be one of the most dismal teams to have ever played in this division - 21 points adrift of safety with only nine games to go, their season effectively ended weeks ago

League One
Millwall v Bury @3pm - the Lions suffered a humbling 6-0 defeat at Spurs in the FA Cup on Sunday which shows the gulf in class that can exist between the best clubs in the Premier League and their counterparts in League One. It was their first defeat in 18 games, which included victories over three Premier League clubs in the cup, so I hope it doesn't take the wind out of their sails too much. Winning promotion back to the Championship is far more important and Bury are down near the bottom and very beatable

League Two
Leyton Orient v Doncaster Rovers @3pm - after beating fellow strugglers Newport last week, the O's returned to losing ways with an emphatic 3-0 loss to Grimsby. The result leaves them six points adrift of safety as they prepare to welcome the leaders. Doncaster have scored more goals than Orient have conceded this season, which is saying something, and it's hard to see past them winning handsomely here

FA Youth Cup Semi-Final Second Leg
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur @515pm - the U18 sides of these two London rivals meet at Stamford Bridge for a place in the final. The Blues won the first leg 2-1 so will start as big favourites. Tickets are only £5 for adults and £3 for everyone else

National League South
Wealdstone v Chelmsford City @3pm - the Stones seemed to be fading away into midtable obscurity but six consecutive wins have put them back in contention for a shot at the play-offs. They are still seven points behind Poole but if they can beat fourth-placed Chelmsford the belief will definitely return, if it hasn't already

Ryman League Premier Division
Hendon v Needham Market @3pm - it was really hard to recommend a game in this division as they were all pretty similar. I've gone for this one as it features sides who have plenty to play for at either end of the table. Sadly it is the Greens who are fighting for their lives near the bottom and Needham who still have title aspirations

Ryman League Division 1 South
Corinthian Casuals v Hastings United @3pm - with so many local sides doing well in this division, most weeks will see a top-six clash taking place which is exactly what we have here. Casuals have enjoyed superb wins over Dorking Wanderers (second) and Greenwich Borough (third) in their last two games as they've made fourth place their own. With average crowds of 350, Hastings are one of the biggest clubs in this division so it's no surprise that they're up among the frontrunners too

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Epsom & Ewell v Hartley Wintney @3pm - the title race in this division has been almost as one-sided as that in Scottish Premiership with visitors Hartley Wintney on course to retain their title almost unopposed. Twenty-three points clear, at the time of writing, my crude calculations suggest there is a chance they could win the title here if they win and results in midweek and on the day go their way

Essex Senior League
Barking v Southend Manor @3pm - the Blues could come into this match nine points clear and with games in hand on all their rivals. If they can beat fourth placed Southend then it will send out another powerful message to their challengers that it might as well all be over

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Glebe v K Sports @3pm - it's second versus third down at Foxbury Avenue on Saturday. Glebe are seven points behind leaders Rusthall but have five games in hand so it would seem to be theirs for the taking

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Sunday 19 March

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton @215pm - Spurs eased into the FA Cup semi-finals on Sunday but lost star striker Harry Kane to injury and he will, barring a miracle, miss this one. The north Londoners demolished the Saints down in Hampshire just after Christmas and the smart money will be on them to repeat the feat

Women's FA Cup Fifth Round
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur @2pm - the tie of the round takes place at Boreham Wood's ground as these two old rivals meet in the women's game. It's a shame it's scheduled against a men's first-team game but that shows you what female and non-league teams are currently up against when trying to grab attention (how many noticed it was the semi-finals of the FA Trophy and FA Vase on Saturday when the FA Cup quarter-finals were going on???!!!)
Chelsea v Doncaster Rovers Belles @2pm - there is also a tie over at Staines Town where Chelsea, last season's runners-up in the league and cup, should have too much for six-times winners Doncaster whose best days are behind them

The Varsity Matches
Cambridge University v Oxford University - two of the oldest teams in the world do battle for bragging rights at The Hive, home of Barnet. This is the first time the women's and men's games have taken place on the same day at the same venue. The women's match kicks off at 1pm and the men's at 4pm. Tickets are £10


GET INVOLVED
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.

4 comments:

  1. James thanks for your great guide to the football in London each week. It certainly makes it easier to find out what's on especially with the non-league matches.

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    1. Thanks a lot Tony - much appreciated.

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  2. Thanks for the heads up about the Arsenal vs Man City reserve game. For £4 it was great value, and a good opportunity for tourists and locals alike to get into the Emirates to see a game at less than 10% of what they'd usually have to pay!

    We were rewarded with a great game, which ended up 3-3 with some good attacking from both sides. The crowd was a few thousand, but I missed the exact number, it was x thousand 9 hundred and something according to the announcer. Probably 1900 but could've been 2900!

    Thanks again for the notice about this game, and of course for the info about all the games every week, it's really appreciated.

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    1. Thanks a lot Huddo and thanks for taking the time to let me know how you got on at the game. As you might have seen, there's a game at Stamford Bridge this weekend which is only £5 to get in so another great chance to see one of the big stadiums on the cheap.

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