Sunday, 11 February 2018

TLFG: 12-18 February 2018

Greetings one and all. How has your week been?

I've been on a week of late shifts so my chances of seeing some live football were very slim indeed.

Instead my time has been taken up preparing for and hosting my five-year-old's birthday party (some regular readers may remember her being born) and getting in a training run for the Big Half in about three weeks time - it took me on an 18km route along the Thames to Brentford and back but saw me pick up yet another calf injury so I've been resting up for the last five days wondering whether or not I should train again before the race or how much.

On the football front more announcements were made regarding the Conifa World Football Cup which will be taking place here in London from 31 May-9 June.

Last week we discovered Sutton United would be one of the host venues but since then it has been revealed that Bromley and Enfield Town have been added to the list as well. 

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With north and south London well covered, hopefully we'll see some clubs in the east and west too - talks are said to have taken place with both QPR and Charlton but no announcements have yet been made.

The biggest event of the week from a London perspective must have been the North London Derby which Spurs won 1-0. Most Arsenal fans I know lost hope when the starting line-up was announced and their dreams of reaching the top four now look all but over.

With the match taking place at Wembley, the chances of getting a ticket greatly increased. Did you get one? How did it compare to a derby at White Hart Lane? How did the bigger venue and bigger crowd affect the intensity? I'd like to hear your views.

QPR and Poland midfielder Pawel Wszolek will be doing a live Q&A in Hammersmith
I've got a week off for half-term but will be up in Yorkshire for a midweek mini-break on Tuesday and Wednesday so I'm unlikely to catch any football then but there is a good chance on Saturday.

QPR v Bolton and Metropolitan Police v Harrow Borough are the two most obvious options for me. Tickets for the former should be easy to get hold of and relatively cheap on Twickets while I'm tempted to go to the latter as I've never been to Imber Court and really should tick it off my list.

Also this week if you're a QPR fan, Polish or ideally both then you might be interested in going to a live Q&A with Pawel Wszolek who plays for the R's and Poland. If you go you will also qualify to buy a ticket for QPR's forthcoming home match against Sunderland for only £5!

The event is taking place at 330pm on Tuesday 13 February at the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith and entry is free although you must reserve a place in advance. As someone who has been to the centre's cafe, I can vouch that they do great cakes! Thanks to TLFG reader Colin W for the tip off.

Lastly this week I'd like to give a big thank you to Wayne C from the USA and Christer S from Sweden who gave very generously to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund - it's very very much appreciated.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 70 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include some big games in the EFL and the next round of the FA Cup.

As always, 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 (orange 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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




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 12 February

Premier League
Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion @8pm - rocked by back-to-back defeats to Bournemouth and Watford, Antonio Conte and the Blues face another potential humiliation as the Baggies pay a visit to Stamford Bridge. Bottom of the league and with only three wins all season, Alan Pardew's side should be cannon fodder for a side of Chelsea's calibre but given their current form who knows???

Premier League Cup
There are two games in this U23 competition over the course of the day meaning you could comfortably attend both. Charlton Athletic open proceedings with a game against Stoke City at 2pm at Greenwich Borough's ground before Watford take on Blackburn Rovers at Wealdstone at 7pm. Please check all details with the respective clubs before you travel as they can change at short notice

Hertfordshire Senior Cup Semi-Final
Boreham Wood v Kings Langley @745pm - the best non-league option of the night is to be found at Meadow Park where five-times former champions Boreham Wood should start as strong favourites against a local rival who play two levels below them. It's unlikely the hosts will field a full-strength side and adult admission has been cut from £18 to £10 accordingly

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Tuesday 13 February

League One
Charlton Athletic v Bradford City @745pm - the match of the night takes place at The Valley where two of the biggest clubs in the division go head-to-head. Both former Premier League clubs are firmly in the hunt for a play-off place but Bradford's form has dropped off worryingly in recent weeks. The Addicks won the reverse fixture 1-0 and will feel hopeful of completing a double here

Middlesex Senior Cup Semi-Final
Wealdstone v Staines Town @745pm - with 11 wins from 21 appearances in the final, the Stones have an impressive history in this competition. Having seen off big rivals Hampton & Richmond in the previous round, they should fancy their chances against the Swans who play a level below and only just scraped past Uxbridge on penalties in the last round

Bostik League Premier Division
Hendon v Leiston @745pm - with only one win from six league games since the start of the year, 2018 hasn't been particularly kind to the Greens. However, they are still very much in touch with the top five and should return to it with a win here. Leiston are only a few points behind so it's likely to be a challenging game. Aside from anything else, Hendon are running a pre-Valentine's Day promotion of free entry for your partner so bring 'em along

Evo-Stik League East Division
Egham Town v Hayes & Yeading United @745pm - from a TLFG perspective the Sarnies have been the team to watch in this division over the last couple of years but having twice missed out in the play-offs, their chance to go up seems to have been missed. Stuck in the lower midtable doldrums, Egham won't be going anywhere this year. Hayes & Yeading, however, are strongly in contention for a top-five finish and could conceivably have an outside shot at the title. If they win here, it will be their ninth in 10 games

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Cockfosters v Hadley @745pm - there was a lot of talk about the North London Derby over the weekend - well this is another one. Little is riding on this in terms of the league but local bragging rights are up for grabs for these two clubs from either side of Barnet

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Harefield United v Southall @745pm - head down to Preston Park on Tuesday if you want to see local-side-in-exile Southall who arrive in Harefield as the division's top club. Playing their home games all the way out at Burnham clearly hasn't adversely affected the visitors who are having their best season for years

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Wednesday 14 February

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Balham v Horley Town @745pm - with the top four sides so much better than everyone else, this midtable clash in the middle of February already has the look of a dead rubber about it even when you consider that the hosts have five or six games in hand on most of those above them. This match could play a crucial part in determining who finishes fifth which is pretty much the best either of these sides can hope for
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Friday 16 February

FA Cup Fifth Round
Chelsea v Hull City @8pm - with the FA Cup down to its last 16 teams things are starting to get serious. Out of contention in the league and also out of the EFL Cup, this is the Blues' one chance of domestic silverware this season so you'd hope they'd field a strong team to get the job done. Hull got relegated from the Premier League last season and have had a terrible time in the Championship with Saturday's win at Nottingham Forest lifting them out of the bottom three in what is a tight relegation fight between at least six clubs, five of which were in the Premier League at some point. The Tigers are also winless in 15 against Chelsea in all competitions and have to go way back to 1988 to find their last one. This match also represents your only chance of seeing a Premier League team in action this weekend as all our other local sides have been eliminated already or are playing away - thankfully tickets are on sale to non-members for a not unreasonable £30

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Saturday 17 February

Championship
Fulham v Aston Villa @3pm - the match of the day on Saturday should be this clash between two promotion contenders at Craven Cottage. With four wins and a draw and five wins on the bounce respectively, these two are also currently top of the division's form table so it should be a cracker. With Villa among the biggest sides in the country, let alone the division, a decent crowd is expected for what could be a thrilling showdown. A few tickets are still available to non-members but don't hang around
Queens Park Rangers v Bolton Wanderers @3pm - a couple of miles up the road in Shepherd's Bush we have a far less enticing fixture between two sides looking to make sure of avoiding the drop. QPR are eight points clear of the relegation zone so should be alright but the Trotters are much closer to the trap door and could end the day in the bottom three if they lose here. If you are keen to go to this, check the Twickets re-sale website (fully endorsed by QPR - you pick your ticket from the box office) which should see you be able pick up a ticket for below face value

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Bristol Rovers @3pm - after suffering morale-crushing defeats to fellow strugglers Bury and Northampton, hopes of a Dons renaissance are starting to fade. Next up are midtable Rovers who despite being down in 11th still have a chance of challenging for a place in the top six. The hosts managed to win the reverse fixture in Bristol back in November so this should give them some belief

League Two
Barnet v Accrington Stanley @3pm - the Bees fightback is on after the division's bottom club recorded a shock 1-0 win over high flying Notts County on Saturday. After an important game at Yeovil in midweek, Graham Westley's side return to The Hive to face the team currently in second. It's going to be another tough ask but who knows?

National League
Sutton United v Wrexham @3pm - with just eight points separating the top nine clubs, any game between teams in that group is going to be important. At the time of writing, Sutton are fifth and Wrexham third. With the U's averaging crowds of over 2,000 and Wrexham over double that, we could see a very large attendance indeed
Boreham Wood v Gateshead @3pm - in the division's other game, The Wood are still well in the hunt for honours themselves. With only one league defeat since the start of the year they should be confident of beating their north-eastern opponents but mindful of the fact that they were recently beaten by them in the FA Trophy

National League South
Wealdstone v Dartford @3pm - the Stones' long journey down to Cornwall to play Truro on Saturday saw them rewarded with an important victory which extended their winning run to three games and closed the gap on the play-off places to five points. Here they welcome the long term league leaders who seem to have been top forever despite another tight title race. Sadly for the Darts you feel that their tenure at the top could be coming to an end. With two defeats on the trot and the two below them both having games in hand, their current two-point lead looks pretty flimsy. In essence, they badly need to win here

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Enfield Town @3pm - the Hamlet had their game at Lowestoft postponed on Saturday meaning they missed the chance to return to the top after Billericay only managed to draw at Met Police. Their next home game is against the Towners who have been up among the play-off places with Dulwich in recent seasons but have failed to fire this time round and are way down in 18th. Despite this, their support has held up reasonably well and you'd like to think a crowd of at least 1,500 will be present

Bostik League South Division
Cray Wanderers v Carshalton Athletic @3pm - two former Premier Division sides do battle to get back up after several years away from the league's top flight. Cray beat Ramsgate on Saturday to go top and take full advantage of title rivals Lewes' postponement. Like some of those mentioned above, this division is also witnessing a very exciting title race with only six points between the top six clubs. Carshalton are part of that leading pack so this game has quite a bit riding on it

Combined Counties League Premier Division
CB Hounslow United v Hanworth Villa @3pm - in terms of the league this isn't a hugely important game but it is a derby and if you're a groundhopper it gives you a chance to check out the hosts' new ground which is receiving rave reviews

Essex Senior League
Wadham Lodge v Waltham Forest @3pm - the Walthamstow derby between two sides who groundshare. Neither side is having a great season but a derby's a derby so it should be worth a watch

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Beckenham Town v Tunbridge Wells @3pm - the Becks have made solid progress on the pitch this season and are challenging hard for the title, so much so that a hefty win in this game against relegation threatened opponents could put them top

Combined Counties League Division 1
Raynes Park Vale v Worcester Park @3pm - it's derby day in SW20 as RPV welcome near neighbours and title favourites Worcester Park. Although down in eighth, the hosts could conceivably begin a promotion push with a win here, especially when you consider the visitors can't be promoted because their ground isn't up to scratch

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Sunday 18 February

Women's FA Cup Fifth Round
Arsenal v Millwall Lionesses @2pm - there are several women's games on Sunday but this one is my top pick as it's a derby. The Gunners play a division above the Lionesses so should start as strong favourites
Chelsea v Doncaster Rovers Belles @2pm - in terms of quality then this might actually be a better watch as it pits the team who are second in the country against the team who are top of the division below


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 in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

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