Sunday 9 April 2017

TLFG: 10-17 April 2017

Greetings one and all and a big welcome to the Easter special of TLFG.

The coming weekend is one of the biggest in the English football calendar with loads of games crammed into four days, many of which are derbies and/or will have a huge bearing on promotion or relegation. As a result, I'm extending this week's piece through to Monday 17 April so that it's all covered and you can make your plans.

The most action-packed day is probably Monday 17th and the quietest will be Sunday with only one women's game taking place.

The week leading up to Easter is unsurprisingly quiet with Palace v Arsenal the highlight. The Ryman League Cup final on Wednesday at Carshalton's ground also looks good too.

The other good thing about Monday 17th, as has become tradition, is that a number of games in the Combined Counties League kick-off at 1130am meaning you can combine them with another later kick-off and enjoy a groundhop double. So, for example, you could watch the Bedfont derby down near Heathrow and then saunter off to watch Fulham or QPR at 3pm - there are lots of other combinations too.

In other news, it has come to my attention that Clapton could be in real danger of losing their ground. Now for most clubs that would be bad but for all of us it would be a double tragedy because the Old Spotted Dog is the oldest one in London and is part of the very history and fabric of football in this city. For the latest on what is happening please visit the Real Clapton website.

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From a personal point of view I'm working over all four days of the weekend but I am on early shifts so I might get to escape in time to see a game on Monday - fingers crossed.

There's almost certainly more I could put in at this point but I've got to be up for work at 330am and this blog has taken hours so I'll wrap it up here for now pending later edits through the week if anything interesting comes up.

Have a great week and let your friends know about this page. Cheers.

There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next week with games 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
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures

Black pin - Good Friday fixtures
Blue pin - Easter Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Easter Sunday fixtures
Grey pin - Easter Monday 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 10 April

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Arsenal @8pm - the week gets off to a great start with this intriguing match at Selhurst Park. Palace followed up their stunning win at Chelsea with a disappointing midweek defeat at Southampton which means they're still only three points above the relegation zone. Next up are the Gunners who made short work of West Ham on Wednesday as they continued their battle to get back into the top four. A physical Sam Allardyce side might prosper against this particular Arsenal outfit and a draw must be the Eagles' minimum requirement

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Middlesbrough @7pm - if you haven't yet had the chance to check out the Hammers' new home at the London Stadium then you have a great opportunity to do so on Monday when the club's U23 side play a game there. Tickets are only £5 but must be bought in advance, preferably online, so don't turn up at the stadium without one

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Eton Manor @745pm - the only non-league option is this east London derby at the Mile End Stadium. Sadly Eton Manor, who hail from the area around the Olympic Park, don't have a ground of their own any more and play outside London


Tuesday 11 April

London Senior Cup Semi-Final

Metropolitan Police v Haringey Borough @745pm - a place in one of our local county cup finals is up for grabs for these teams. Met Police play in the Ryman Premier, a division above Haringey so should start as favourites

Middlesex Senior Cup Semi-Final
Hanworth Villa v Hampton & Richmond Borough @745pm - we also have a last-four clash in the parallel Middlesex competition. This is a derby but one which Hampton should win with relative ease as they play three divisions above their hosts. Their ground has also been selected to host the final so there's an even bigger incentive to progress


Wednesday 12 April

Ryman League Cup Final
Billricay Town v Tonbridge Angels @745pm - there's a very significant piece of non-league silverware up for grabs at Carshalton Athletic's Colston Avenue ground on Wednesday as two of the Premier Division's play-off contenders go head-to-head. Given they both have their eyes firmly on gaining promotion, it will be interesting to see how seriously they take it. Remember, Billericay are the team spending big at the moment and include former Premier League players Paul Konchesky and Jamie O'Hara in their squad. I've not been able to find any information on ticket prices yet but it's usually the standard league-match price of £10 for adults


Thursday 13 April

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Hadley v Tring Athletic @730pm - the only reason this match is listed is because it is all that's on. Hadley have had a stinker of a season and Tring, in fifth, have little to play for other than a possible third-place finish. Still it's better than nothing!


Friday 14 April

Brentford v Derby County @3pm - the big weekend of football action gets underway in earnest on Friday afternoon. The Bees have been on a decent little run of late but came unstuck at Cardiff on Saturday. Although mathematically in with a chance of a play-off place, it's not really likely and as a result the pressure is well and truly off, allowing them to enjoy their football. Derby are one of the underachievers of the division, having missed out on promotion several times in recent seasons when it looked like a certainty. New boss Gary Rowett has made an instant impact and they've won three on the bounce but they are still seven points adrift of the top six so a win for the Rams is a must

League One
Millwall v Northampton Town @3pm - a draw with Gillingham was enough to edge the Lions above Southend into the play-off places on Saturday. Given how tight the battle for play-off places is, all of their last four games could turn into cup finals. The Cobblers are in lower midtable and present a great opportunity to snap up another vital three points

National League
Boreham Wood v Dagenham & Redbridge @3pm - there are three NL games in the capital on Friday with this the most notable in my opinion. Firstly it's a London derby and secondly it features the capital's current top two non-league clubs one of which is firmly in the hunt for promotion. The fact Boreham Wood are continuing to more than hold their own in the fifth tier surrounded by much bigger clubs is a great achievement and another midtable finish seems highly likely. Some iffy recent results for the Daggers look to have realistically knocked them out of the title race but a play-off spot is theirs to lose - a bad Easter weekend could see that happen.

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v London Bari @745pm - end the day with a bit more non-league action in Ilford where the 'Side host London Bari in a derby. Prices have been reduced to £5 for adults and it's also free for kids. There will also be a food collection for the homeless - a cause which the club have championed throughout the season


Saturday 15 April

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Bournemouth @1230pm - for the second Saturday running, Spurs open the batting with a lunchtime kick-off. The north London club are in cracking form at the moment, winning their last six league games and scoring 18 in the process. The Cherries are winless in three but took a point off Liverpool at Anfield last week so shouldn't be completely written off
Crystal Palace v Leicester City @3pm - the Eagles welcome reigning league champions Leicester to SE25 on Saturday as they look to shore up their place in the top flight. Until a few weeks ago this would've been a relegation six-pointer but five straight wins following the sacking of boss Claudio Ranieri has almost certainly saved them
Watford v Swansea City @3pm - the Swans enjoyed a new manager 'bounce' when Paul Clement first came in but that now seems to have worn off as a worrying run of five games without a win has put them right back in the bottom three. Although they got thrashed at Tottenham on Saturday, Watford are sitting very comfortably in the top 10 and should get to enjoy another season among England's elite next year

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Wealdstone @3pm - there's no EFL or National League action in the capital on Saturday so the next best option is this Middlesex derby in the NLS. Currently seventh and eighth in the table, they are two well matched sides whose seasons have effectively ended such is the gap to the top five. Hampton could conceivably still just about make the play-offs but the two above them would have to completely fall apart in their final four games. The Beveree is one of the most popular non-league grounds in London and is fine place to spend an afternoon if the weather is fine, there's also a great old fashioned tuck shop for kids of all ages

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Folkestone Invicta @3pm - the Towners forced their way into the top five on Saturday after enjoying a fine away win at promotion rivals Billericay. On Saturday they welcome Kent club Folkestone who are teetering just above the relegation places. Both sides are well supported so I'd like to think a crowd of 500+ will be present for this important game
Kingstonian v Leiston @3pm- like the game at Enfield, this match features sides scrapping for points at either end of the table. This time it's the hosts who are fighting the drop and Leiston looking to secure third place and home advantage in the play-offs. This is the penultimate game the K's will play at Kingsmeadow before moving to groundshare with Leatherhead next season - if they get relegated as well, their future looks bleak

Ryman League Division 1 North
AFC Hornchurch v Phoenix Sports @3pm  - with Brightlingsea already having won the title and with it the only automatic promotion place, these two are among the contenders to grab the second place via the play-offs. The Urchins have been among the top five for several months now and have guaranteed a spot but they still need to make sure of third and the home advantage it brings for the one-legged post-season games. Phoenix were the early leaders, fell away over the autumn but kept in touch and made it back into the top five recently. With two clubs just behind them, they can't afford many slip-ups in their final three games
Haringey Borough v Bowers & Pitsea @3pm - the two clubs chasing Phoenix for that fifth spot meet each other at Coles Park the same afternoon. Tied together three points behind, a win for either could put them in the top five as their goal differences are vastly superior to the south-east London club

Ryman League Division 1 South
Carshalton Athletic v Lewes @3pm - it was quite a surprise when these sides ended up in this division after somewhat surprise relegations. Both clubs are arguably too big for this level and should be playing at a higher standard, a fact evidenced by their relatively large crowds. At the time of writing, they reside in sixth and seventh just outside the all-important play-off places and should both fight hard to win here

Southern League Division 1 Central
Egham Town v Hanwell Town @3pm - all of our local sides have had a pretty mediocre campaign except for the hosts who have come good at just the right time and are on course to make the play-offs for the second season running. Currently sixth and only two points behind AFC Dunstable, a good Easter weekend could make all the difference

Essex Senior League
Barking v Sporting Bengal United @3pm - many congratulations to the Blues who finally clinched the ESL title on Saturday at Burnham. They've been top for ages so it came as no surprise but they've been out of the fourth tier for a while so it's great to see them back. This will be their first home game since winning so hopefully the trophy will be paraded at the very least
Clapton v Ilford @3pm - if it's atmosphere you're after then you're probably better advised to head to Barking's near neighbours Clapton. Currently second in the league, they play this derby against other near neighbours Ilford who are a top five club themselves. Never out of the headlines for long, the Tons despite having their best season since the '80s could see the campaign end in tragedy as the future of their historic Old Spotted Dog ground (the oldest in London) is looking decidedly dodgy. If you haven't been before, then you really should and this could be one of your last opportunities

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Sun Sports v Oxhey Jets @3pm - it's Watford derby time on Saturday. The Hertfordshire town has the Premier League side of the same name and then these two eight divisions below. Playing to the north and south of the centre respectively, this is the big one!
Wembley v Edgware Town @3pm - there's also a north-west London derby at Vale Farm. Well on course for a top-four finish, the Lions have had a great year and will start as favourites against Edgware who are just about keeping their heads above water after promotion last year

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Forest Hill Park v Glebe @3pm - the visitors are finally back on top and with three games in hand on second placed Rusthall should claim the title. FHP are slap bang in the middle of the table so have little to play for

FA Women's Super League 2
London Bees v Millwall Lionesses @2pm - joint leaders London Bees welcome midtable Millwall for this derby in the second tier of women's football at The Hive, also home of men's team Barnet


Sunday 16 April

FA Women's Premier League Southern
West Ham United v Lewes @2pm - to my knowledge this is the only match taking place within the London area on Easter Sunday. West Ham's women's team play their games at Thurrock's ground near the Lakeside Shopping Centre on the far eastern side of town

Sporting alternative with a football link:
If women's football doesn't appeal then you could go to the county cricket match between Surrey and Lancashire at The Oval. This ground played host to the very first FA Cup final way back in 1872 so it's worth a visit if football history is your thing. Play begins at 11am and runs through until 6pm weather permitting. Tickets are £15 for adults if bought in advance, £20 on the day.


Monday 17 April

Fulham v Aston Villa @245pm - the Cottagers' win over Ipswich on Saturday helped them keep pace with the top six. A place and two points behind, a win over Aston Villa is a must. Steve Bruce's side are unbeaten in five and will be dangerous opponents
Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday @3pm - the Owls are just ahead of Fulham in the table so the R's could do their west London rivals a massive favour or put a big dent in their promotion ambitions depending on how they do here. Ian Holloway's side were the form team in the division until about 10 days ago but three defeats in quick succession have slapped them back down again. Wednesday pulled off a fine win over Newcastle on Saturday so should head to Loftus Road full of confidence

League One
Charlton Athletic v Gillingham @3pm - with the Gills coming from Kent just outside the borders of London this is pretty much a derby. Not only that but both sides badly need the points to avoid the drop. The Addicks are in better shape after their crucial and unexpected win over promotion chasing Southend on Saturday and should start as favourites
AFC Wimbledon v Peterborough United @3pm - over at Kingsmeadow two clubs whose seasons are effectively over (Posh have a mathematical chance of the play-offs) meet for what will hopefully be an entertaining game of football. The ground is small and likely to be close to capacity so there should be a reasonable atmosphere if nothing else

League Two
Leyton Orient v Hartlepool United @3pm - things are looking really terminal for the troubled O's. Saturday saw them suffer another comfortable defeat at Cambridge a result which leaves them 10 points adrift of safety with five games to go. If they are to do the unthinkable and stay up then Hartlepool are the side in 22nd who must be caught. If they do lose and Cheltenham in 21st win then relegation will be confirmed
Barnet v Wycombe Wanderers @3pm - the Bees have had nothing to play for for some time which is a great achievement given they are one of the smaller clubs in the division. A visit from near Londoners Wycombe is effectively a derby and Gareth Ainsworth's side are still very much in the hunt for a play-off place

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Sutton United @3pm - as mentioned above, the Daggers need all the points they can get to make sure of a play-off place and they could find it hard in this derby against FA Cup giantkillers Sutton who, at the time of writing, need the points to make sure they avoid relegation

National League South
Dartford v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - the Darts could well have confirmed a place in the play-offs by the time this one starts but they won't have secured third place which will help their chances in the play-offs. Depending on results earlier in the week, Hampton might still be in with a shot of joining them

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Grays Athletic @3pm - the hosts are currently the top London club in the division and will hope to easily see off a Grays side who are bottom and already down. Clubs all the way down to 10th are still well in with a chance of making the play-offs so the fact Dulwich are fourth is no guarantee of anything. The south Londoners are also developing a bit of a reputation as chokers having failed in the play-offs two years running and coming sixth the year before that
Harrow Borough v Hendon @3pm - not only is this a derby but this game could be highly important for both sides at the other end of the table. Harrow seemed home and dry a few weeks ago but a five game winless run has left them four points above the relegation zone with three games to go. They will have played two more games by the time they get to this one so a win in one would pretty much secure their future. The Greens, however, are languishing in the bottom three but are firmly in touch after their priceless win at Folkestone on Saturday. Harrow and Hendon are old, friendly, rivals and are the only two to have competed in this division without promotion or relegation since the '70s so it would be a real shame to lose either

Southern League Premier Division
Hayes & Yeading United v Kings Langley @3pm - after another season without a ground of their own, HYU are on course for another relegation. The last few years have witnessed a steady decline following the sale of their Church Road ground. I spent the first ever Non-League Day there back in 2010 when the west London club were in what is now the National League. Since selling their ground and failing to finish off their new one, they have been groundsharing all over the place, mainly at venues like Woking, Maidenhead and most recently Beaconsfield none of which are within the M25. Crowds and playing standards have gone downhill accordingly and now they face this massive six-pointer against fellow strugglers Kings Langley who are just above them in the table. The match is being played at Uxbridge and you wonder why they haven't played more games at local clubs like this during their nomadic years

Ryman League Division 1 North
Aveley v AFC Hornchurch @630pm - the hosts play their last ever game at Mill Field with this Essex derby against the promotion chasing Urchins
Thurrock v Romford @3pm - the hosts could well have confirmed their place in the play-offs by the time this groundshare derby kicks-off

Ryman League Division 1 South
Tooting & Mitcham United v Carshalton Athletic @3pm - depending on how other results go, Tooting may well come into this game as newly crowned divisional champions. If not, they could win it here. However, with local rivals Carshalton quite possibly still trying to earn a play-off place themselves, it could be a real battle for the three points

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Abbey Rangers v Chertsey Town @1pm - with Hartley Wintney having already won the title there's little else to play for in this division other than bragging rights and there'll be plenty of those up for grabs between these two very local rivals
Bedfont & Feltham v Bedfont Sports @1130am - other than groundsharers, these two clubs are about as close as it's possible to get with their two grounds almost touching each other. For plane enthusiasts this one's also good because the pitch is very close to Heathrow airport's runway

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Fisher v Crowbrough Athletic @3pm - the hosts' first season at their new home in Rotherhithe has been one to forget. Currently joint bottom, they badly need to win this to hoist themselves out of the relegation zone. Sadly Crowborough are the title favourites and will take some stopping

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Glebe v Kent Football United @3pm - the leaders take on third placed KFU. With only the top two going up, this is a big one

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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