Sunday, 25 March 2018

TLFG: 26 March - 8 April 2018

Greetings one and all and welcome to TLFG's Easter Special.

Usually I like to make a bit of an effort at this time of year as it is, alongside Christmas and New Year, the best time to watch football in London as there is so much on.

Normally I just add Easter Monday on so you get an extra day for your money but I've gone the whole hog this time and produced a guide to hopefully see you through the next two weeks.

All in all I think there is somewhere in the region of 220 games taking place with 99 of those between Good Friday and Easter Monday alone - including a possible groundhop triple on 2 April but more on that below.

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Encompassing the back end of the international break, the next two weeks include a real smorgasbord of action with top level World Cup warm-up games, the return of the Premier League and Championship and several minor cup finals. That's not to mention all the crucial league games, many of them derbies, as we approach the end of the current season.

Given the lengthy fixture backlog of many non-league clubs, it is possible that even more games could be arranged over the next few days so let me know if I miss any.

So how has your international break been so far?

I saw pictures on Facebook that showed several of you went to my recommended game at Wealdstone on Saturday.

Sadly for the Stones, they were second best to visitors Brackley Town who recorded a 3-0 aggregate win to earn a place in the FA Trophy at Wembley.

Tickets are on sale now for what is a great day out at Wembley
On the brightside, the good news is that they'll face another London club when they get there after Bromley recorded a nervy 4-3 aggregate win over Gateshead. Many congratulations to them. 

The FA Trophy forms part of Non-League Finals Day (20 May) which sees it and the final of the FA Vase played back-to-back in what is a great day out for £25 a ticket. If you get a group of nine or more friends together you get a very generous 50% discount meaning tickets are only £12.50 which is what I'm doing this year. Give it a go, tickets are on sale now.

In other news affecting our local clubs, there were managerial changes at Charlton Athletic and Barnet this week.

The Addicks brought in former player Lee Bowyer who immediately oversaw a fine win over Plymouth whilst the Bees gave Martin Allen his fifth go in the hotseat but his first game ended in defeat at Luton.

In the National League, Sutton United beat Chester to go top whilst Leyton Orient drew a crowd of nearly 6,000 to see their 3-0 win over Woking thanks in large part to their £5 ticket promotion.

Earlier in the week Dagenham & Redbridge welcomed a side from West Ham United for a fundraising friendly and, true to his word, David Moyes fielded pretty much the strongest team available to him and consequently they ran out 3-1 winners  - every credit to the Hammers for helping at what is a troubled time.

The National League South title race has been tight all season and looks like going to the wire with only four points separating the top three - local sides Dartford and Hampton & Richmond Borough are among that group with Welling United also pushing hard for a play-off place.

Despite being thrown out of their ground and all the other turmoil facing Dulwich Hamlet, the players, fans and officials are staying strong and are still top of the Bostik League after winning comfortably at Needham Market whilst the highly resourced Billericay Town floundered again.

It's 'Fans United' day at Dulwich Hamlet and there could be a cheap ticket for you - find out more
The Hamlet's next league game at their new, hopefully temporary, Imperial Fields home falls on Good Friday and they're holding a 'Fans United' day where season-ticket holders and members of any club in the world will be offered half-price admission (£5) and are being encouraged to wear their own colours in what I guess is purely a celebration of what it is to be a football fan. So if you're without a game, dig out your most obscure football top and get yourself down there.

Typically I'm working late on Friday and everyday throughout the Easter weekend so I'll get to see absolutely nothing until the week after.

Thankfully because of all my work with Prostate Cancer UK on Non-League Day, I've been offered a couple of tickets by the charity (who also work with the EFL) for the EFL Trophy Final, also at Wembley, on 8 April.

This year it features Lincoln City and Shrewsbury Town so, although I have no affinity to either, you can't knock a free day out at the national stadium.

The Conifa World Football Cup is coming told London - find out more

Regular readers will know that the Conifa World Football Cup is coming to London in a couple of months time.

The tournament which runs from 31 May - 9 June is for teams representing 'nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories' which are not recognised by Fifa.

Competitors in the 16-team tournament include Ellan Vannin (aka the Isle of Man), Northern Cyprus, Panjab, Tamil Ealam and Tibet.

This week's main announcement was that Bracknell Town will host a number of games - personally I found this a bit disappointing as they're not a London club. However, the ground is modern and very close to the town centre and station - it will also hopefully generate a bit of extra interest in the Thames Valley area.


The remainder of the stadia to be used will hopefully be announced this week, including the important announcement about where the final will be played.

Full information about fixtures and tickets can be found here.

Well I think that's about it from me. Have a great Easter and enjoy your football - keep your emails and pictures coming.


THE WEEKS AHEAD
There are over 200 matches in the London area over the next 14 days. The highlights include some big international friendlies, the return of the Premier League and Championship, some cup finals and loads of local derbies.

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.

MATCH MAP 26-29 MARCH
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin



MATCH MAP 30 MARCH-2 APRIL
Friday fixtures - black pin
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin
Monday fixtures - yellow pin




MATCH MAP 3-6 APRIL
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



MATCH MAP 7-8 APRIL
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 26 March

National League South
Wealdstone v Eastbourne Borough @745pm - after the disappointment of their FA Trophy semi-final defeat on Saturday, the Stones are swiftly thrown back into action with this game against a side they should be able to beat. As a result of their great cup run, Bobby Wilkinson's side have some games in hand and an outside chance of making the play-offs but they'll have to put the weekend's result behind them or use it as tool to help them push on

Bostik League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Billericay Town @745pm - aside from a fine win in the Essex Senior Cup final, big-spending Billericay are falling apart at the seams in the league, losing five of their last six games. Saturday's hefty loss at Hendon left them eight points behind leaders Dulwich and although they still have five games in hand, you wonder where their next points are going to come from. Despite beating Tonbridge, Wingate's play-off hopes look a bit forlorn now but they've still had another fantastic season given their resources. When the sides last met in the league cup a couple of months ago, Billericay edged to a 1-0 win and it will probably be close again

Middlesex Charity Cup Quarter-Final
Enfield Borough v Hampton & Richmond Borough @745pm - rescheduled after the bad weather a couple of weeks ago, this is probably the biggest match in the Panthers' short history. On paper, Hampton from four levels above should outclass them considerably. However, the chances of them fielding a full-strength team during a final push for promotion in the league are slim

A bit further afield
The pick of the games just beyond the boundaries of London would appear to be the Bedfordshire Senior Cup Final. Luton Town take on Biggleswade Town in a match which is being played at the Hatters' Kenilworth Road ground - adult tickets are £8 on the gate
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Tuesday 27 March

International friendlies

England v Italy @8pm - there's a mini World Cup taking place in London on Tuesday night with this the standout game of those on offer. In most years, tickets for a prestigious game like this would have sold out pretty quickly but with support for the Three Lions becoming increasingly lacklustre and the mighty Azzurri failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 it's been a bit of a struggle. Gareth Southgate's side recorded a decent enough 1-0 win over the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Friday and will hope for another win here. Matches between the two are typically tight with the winning margin rarely more than one goal. However, the last time England beat them at Wembley it finished 2-0 way back in 1997
Colombia v Australia @8pm - if the game above doesn't appeal for whatever reason, then had to the banks of the Thames for this colourful looking fixture at Craven Cottage. Unlike the match above, both sides have qualified for this summer's tournament in Russia and will look to get a good result as their preparations get fully underway. The smart money must be on Los Cafeteros who can boast star players like Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez amongst their line-up and who also came back from 2-0 down to beat France 3-2 in Paris on Friday
Nigeria v Serbia @8pm - your other, probably cheapest option, is this interesting match-up between another couple of sides who are heading to Russia. Given the reputation of some of Serbia's fans I had to say that I raised an eyebrow when I heard about this. Given the match is being played at The Hive, within sight of Wembley and on the same Tube line - a lot of potential nutters (including those from England and Italy) could all be travelling in the same direction at the same time so the police will have to be watchful to say the least. As for the match itself, Nigeria come into it on the back of a fine win over Poland whilst Serbia also played on Friday but lost to Morocco which suggests the African side could well start as marginal favourites

Friendly
Brentford B v Chelsea U23 @1pm - if you're in town for one of the matches above and have the whole day free then you might like to squeeze in another game at lunchtime. The Bees' second string comfortably saw off Manchester United's youngsters last week and expect to welcome another strong side from their local rivals on Tuesday. Sadly this game isn't being played at Griffin Park and will be at the club's training ground instead. However, it should still be open to the public and be free to watch although check all the details with the club before you travel

London Senior Cup Semi-Final
Tooting & Mitcham United v Cray Valley PM @745pm - the Terrors are in danger of getting relegated from the Bostik Premier but they've still managed to make it to the last four of this prestigious local competition. They play two levels above their opponents so should win but CVPM know a thing or two about upsetting the form book and are the current cup holders

Southern Counties East League
Beckenham Town v Sevenoaks Town @745pm - the Becks have had a fine season and are still in with an outside chance of the title. Currently third and seven points off the top, they welcome the leaders for what must surely be a make or break game

A bit further afield
Just beyond TLFG's southern boundary, there's a local derby taking place in the Bostik Premier which is well worthy of consideration as Dorking Wanderers host Leatherhead. This match was supposed to mark the grand opening of the hosts' new stadium but it's fallen behind schedule and will be played at the club's incredibly picturesque Westhumble ground in the shadow of Box Hill which you'll be able to see following the clocks going forward over the weekend. Given the huge occasion this was supposed to be, a lot of tickets were sold in advance and although some have been refunded many won't have been and a big crowd is still expected

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Wednesday 28 March

London Senior Cup Semi-Final

Dulwich Hamlet v Balham @745pm - for the second night running Imperial Fields will play host to an LSC semi as Tooting's new tenants Dulwich look to earn a place in the final possibly against their landlords. Balham, who only hail from up the road and are more local than the Hamlet, play two levels below Gavin Rose's side and will start as significant underdogs. However, Dulwich lost to eventual winners Cray Valley last year and might have their minds more on winning the league

Uefa Women's Champions League Quarter-Final Second Leg
Chelsea v Montpellier @705pm - after winning the away leg 2-0, a place in the last four looks like a strong certainty for the Blues. This match is being played at the ground they share with AFC Wimbledon in Norbiton and adult tickets are available for a very reasonable £6

A bit further afield
Billericay Town v Harrow Borough @745pm - many at Imperial Fields watching Dulwich will have an eye on the happenings in this game. As mentioned above, Billericay should win the league thanks to their strong squad and games in hand but they are struggling badly at the moment. Their large fixture backlog seems to be taking its toll on the players with matches coming every two or three days at the moment. Harrow are the sort of side who should be seen off with relative ease but anything's possible at the moment (UPDATE 28/03/18: this match is now being played at Aveley FC)

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Thursday 29 March

Professional Development League
Watford v Ipswich Town @1pm - the Hornets' U23 side welcome the Tractor Boys to the Watford training ground for this lunchtime game. If you are tempted by this then check all the details in advance as they can change at very short notice

Surrey Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Metropolitan Police v Leatherhead @745pm - this much-postponed game will hopefully finally get played on Thursday. With the Met having made it to the league cup final already and having little to play for in the league, you'd expect them to field a stronger side and win
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Friday 30 March

Championship
Millwall v Nottingham Forest @1pm - the football feast that is the Easter weekend gets underway on Good Friday with a couple of Championship games topping the bill. The first is this early kick-off which features the Lions who are on an outrageously excellent run. With one of the smallest budgets in the division, the Bermondsey club just can't stop winning and find themselves just four points adrift of the play-off places with eight games to go. After some poor results, Forest are also turning things round nicely under new boss Aitor Karanka and are unbeaten in five
Brentford v Sheffield United @3pm - in the other game we get to see two clubs just outside the play-off places go up against each other. The Bees looked to be building some serious momentum a few weeks ago but a run of only one win in five looks to have ended their hopes. The Blades were challenging for automatic promotion back in the autumn but will now be more than happy with a top-six finish. The Yorkshire club have also found Griffin Park to be quite a happy hunting ground with three wins from their last five visits

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Fleetwood Town @3pm - the Dons' inconsistent results mean they just can't get clear of the bottom four meaning this match against fellow strugglers Fleetwood is incredibly important to them. I say strugglers because of their current position but the Lancashire club have picked up considerably of late with their crucial win over Northampton on Saturday extending their unbeaten run to five games

League Two
Barnet v Crewe Alexandra @3pm - panic stations seem to have kicked in at The Hive where the Bees hierarchy sacked another manager this week and brought back Martin Allen for his FIFTH spell at the club. Sadly there was no bounce as the bottom club unsurprisingly lost at leaders Luton to end the day seven points adrift of safety at the foot of the table. Of the sides in lower midtable, Crewe are in the best form at the moment so it could be another tough afternoon for the north London club

National League
Boreham Wood v Barrow @3pm - Luke Garrard's side suffered a rare reverse on Saturday at fellow promotion contenders Aldershot. Although they have a six-point cushion over the chasing pack, the Wood will want to get back to winning ways as soon as possible. Barrow are just above the relegation zone so should be beaten
Bromley v Wrexham @3pm - it looks like being a season to remember for the Ravens. Having made it through to the FA Trophy final at Wembley with their aggregate win over Gateshead on Saturday, their attention now returns to the league where they also have a shot at promotion. With games in hand on all those above them, a place in the play-offs is not beyond them. A win against promotion rivals Wrexham will do them no harm at all

National League South
Dartford v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - with seven games to go, only four points separate the top three clubs. These two are currently in second and third so it's a match of huge significance. Both are in decent form with the Darts winning four of their last five and Hampton unbeaten in five so it could go either way
Welling United v Bath City @3pm - the Wings surged into the play-off places with a 4-1 win at Hungerford on Saturday. Bath appear to be going the other way at the moment and need to be seen off if they're to keep their place in the top seven

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Dorking Wanderers @3pm - much has been written about Dulwich's current battle with property developers and to highlight their struggle and that faced by many others, they are holding a 'Fans United' day at Imperial Fields as they take on Dorking Wanderers. This means that season-ticket holders and members of any club in the world are being encouraged to turn up, wearing their own colours, and will be able to get in for half price (£5). As well as showing your solidarity with the club, you should also get to see a decent game of football

Possible doubleheader
If you fancy seeing a couple of games on Friday, then there are early kick-offs at Epsom & Ewell (1130am) in the Combined Counties League and Lewisham Borough in the Southern Counties East League (12pm) which should finish early enough for you to be able to get to one of the later matches

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Saturday 31 March

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Liverpool @1230pm - after a couple of weeks off, the Premier League makes its return with this important game. Selhurst Park should be packed and the atmosphere fantastic for a match which sold out a long time ago. With Palace battling to avoid the drop and the Reds looking to pip Manchester United to the runners-up spot, there's plenty riding on it. Since Palace's return to the top flight in 2013, these games have always been good yielding 19 goals in just four games
Watford v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - two of the Premier League's biggest success stories meet at Vicarage Road seeking the win which will all but secure their place in the top division for another season. Promoted together in 2015, these two relatively small clubs have defied most of the pundits and look all set to book a fourth consecutive season at this level - a great achievement
West Ham United v Southampton @3pm - two far bigger clubs who should be enjoying a place in midtable, these two are scrapping to avoid the drop and could both easily go down. With the Hammers fans protesting on the pitch at their last match and Saints sacking their manager in recent weeks - it's a huge game and a worrying time for all concerned

National League South
Wealdstone v East Thurrock United @3pm - with no EFL action scheduled for London on Saturday, your next best option is this game in the sixth tier. As mentioned above, the Stones still have an outside chance of promotion and need to win this to have any chance

Bostik League Premier Division
Staines Town v Folkestone Invicta @3pm - most of Saturday's games are taking place in the seventh to 10th tiers with this match the best of the games in the Bostik Premier. Folkestone have emerged as title contenders in recent weeks while Staines, with a game in hand, have a strong claim for a place in the play-offs

Bostik League North Division
AFC Hornchurch v Potters Bar Town @3pm - the Urchins' title celebrations were delayed on Friday when they lost the top-of-the-table clash to Bowers & Pitsea in front of an impressive crowd of 410. Next up they host third placed PBT who should also provide a very stern test

Evo-Stik League East Division
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Uxbridge @3pm - with it being Easter weekend, many of the matches are derbies including this one between sides who play on either side of Heathrow airport. Apart from the derby nature of the game, there's not much else riding on it

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Hadley v Cockfosters @3pm - there are also a couple of derbies in the SSML Premier. If the hosts win this one, they'll be well on course to become the best London club in the division
Wembley v Edgware Town @3pm - two other near neighbours, who are not far behind Hadley, meet at Vale Farm

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Harefield United v Broadfields United @3pm - in the division below there's a groundshare derby. At the time of writing, tenants Broadfields are well placed to push for promotion
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Sunday 1 April

Premier League
Arsenal v Stoke City @130pm - the staging of Premier League football on Easter Sunday caused controversy when it first occurred in 2009 and it still seems a bit weird nearly 10 years on. With it also being the 1 April, all teams will be doing their best not to look like April Fools! Sadly, there's a lot of potential for it to occur here with an out of sorts Gunners side looking highly susceptible to an unexpected result. However, this Stoke team are poor and they haven't responded all that well to the new regime of Paul Lambert so an upset is extremely unlikely
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur @4pm - of far more interest is this big derby at Stamford Bridge which will go a long way to deciding which team finishes in the top four. With a five-point cushion over their rivals, I'm sure Spurs will be more than happy with a point

FA Women's Super League 1
Arsenal v Chelsea @1230pm - with tickets for the games above like gold dust, why not give women's football a try? Two of the country's top teams meet for this derby at lunchtime and adult tickets are only £6 if bought in advance

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Monday 2 April

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Norwich City @3pm - after watching the Canaries thrash QPR 4-0 at Carrow Road on the final day last season to just miss out on the play-offs, many expected the Norfolk club to push on and go one better but it hasn't happened and they've slid back into midtable obscurity just ahead of Rangers. Such a position is actually quite an achievement for Ian Holloway's side who narrowly avoided relegation that day and have looked ropey at times over the last few months. Although not mathematically safe, both sides should be able to look forward to playing each other again next season. Games between these two at Loftus Road are usually well contested with Norwich fans usually travelling in large numbers so it should be worth a watch even though not a huge amount rests on it

League One
Charlton Athletic v Rotherham United @3pm - although only a third-tier match, as a neutral you might get more out of a visit to The Valley. The Addicks had found themselves deep in the doldrums of late and so manager Karl Robinson made way in midweek. Former player Lee Bowyer was put in as caretaker and proceeded to preside over an impressive 2-0 win over in-form Plymouth to reignite Charlton's play-off push. Only two points off sixth, Rotherham are another one of the teams just above them so to win again would put them right back in contention

National League
Sutton United v Bromley @3pm - there are several games in the National League on Monday but if you're unsure where to go then head to this one as it has it all. Not only is it a south London derby but it also features the current leaders against one of the FA Trophy finalists who could also make the play-offs too. A big crowd of 2,500-3,000 should be expected for this one which could necessitate it becoming all ticket or segregated at the very least so check the club's website before you travel to make sure of the details

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Welling United @3pm - as mentioned above, these two London clubs are both in with a shout of promotion. It also pits one of the most miserly defences against one of the most prolific forward lines

Bostik League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Hendon @3pm - the biggest derby of the day in this division is this game between two north London rivals. Both clubs compete on relatively meagre resources but at the time of writing are both in the top nine. Depending on midweek results, a win for the Greens could see them go as a high as third

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Canvey Island @6pm - although this is a derby and Canvey are among those pushing to go up, the main reason I've listed it here is because of the late kick-off which allows you to combine it with another game. The one featuring Romford (at Thurrock) is closest but so are the games featuring Thamesmead Town (at Dartford), Kent Football United or possibly even Dagenham & Redbridge

Bostik League South Division
Cray Wanderers v Greenwich Borough @3pm - a derby between sides in the top five. With the top two going up automatically and only five points between those in second and fifth, there looks set to be an almighty scrap for places during the final few games of the season
Walton Casuals v Corinthian Casuals @3pm - another game between two of the top six where the hosts will be primarily looking to keep hold of their play-off spot. The visitors are up in second but have played more than most of those below them and will desperately want to hold on after losing last season's play-off final on penalties

Evo-Stik League East Division
Hayes & Yeading United v Hanwell Town @3pm - H&YU leapt into the automatic promotion spots on Saturday after crushing local rivals Uxbridge 4-0. Sadly they've played two or three more games than those above and below them so their position is arguably a slightly false one. Next up are another local outfit who they dispatched 4-1 in the re-arranged away game a couple of weeks ago

Possible groundhop triple 
One of the best things about Bank Holiday football in London is that you can always rely on the Combined Counties League to lay on a load of early kick-offs to allow for a bit of groundhopping. Every game in both divisions starts at 1130am meaning if you planned it correctly, you might be able to see three games in a day with the Aveley match in the Bostik League, mentioned above, right at the end. To do it you'd almost certainly need access to a car and begin your day at one of the most easterly games in the league or one right on the M25. This would lead me to recommend the games at either Farleigh Rovers, Epsom & Ewell or at a push Chertsey Town - you should then have at least 90 minutes to get round to the matches in Dartford and Thurrock featuring Thamesmead Town and Romford before continuing on to Aveley. UPDATE (01/04/18): because of the recent bad weather, two more Bostik League fixtures have been arranged for Easter Monday with Brentwood Town playing a match at Aveley at 1pm and Dorking Wanderers hosting a match at Whyteleafe at 745pm so you've got some extra groundhopping options or you could just spend all day at Aveley or Whyteleafe who are also playing home games that day

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Tuesday 3 April

Championship
Fulham v Leeds United @745pm - held over until Tuesday night for TV coverage, the high-flying Cottagers will look to close the gap on second placed Cardiff with a win over Leeds. The Yorkshire club, one of the giants of the division, have fallen short again this season and should lose given Fulham's current form

Friendly
Brentford B v Shanghai SIPG @1pm - one of the most intriguing fixtures of the period sees the Bees reserves welcome a squad from the team which finished second in the Chinese Super League last season. With the domestic league already underway in China, this will only be a development squad but it will be interesting to see the standard. As always with reserve and youth games, confirm all the details with the club before you travel

Essex Senior League
Clapton v Redbridge @745pm - looking to cement another top-six finish, the Tons welcome current leaders Redbridge for what should be a very tough game. Please be aware that the Clapton Ultras who make up the overwhelming share of the home support are still boycotting games at the Old Spotted Dog so don't expect much of an attendance for this one

Spartan South Midlands League
For some reason the organisers of this league have decided to play all the games that could have been scheduled for Easter Monday on Tuesday night meaning there's a full programme of fixtures, many of which are derbies. As a result, you should definitely think about going to the games at Cockfosters, Edgware Town, Broadfields United and Hillingdon Borough

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Wednesday 4 April

London Senior Cup Semi-Final
Dulwich Hamlet v Balham @730pm - this match was originally scheduled for last week but it got rained off. Without a ground of their own and Imperial Fields waterlogged, this match will be played on the 3G pitch at Carshalton Athletic. Balham play two levels below Gavin Rose's side and will start as significant underdogs. However, Dulwich lost to eventual winners Cray Valley, also from the ninth tier, last year and might have their minds more on winning the league

Bostik League Premier Division
Harrow Borough v Lowestoft Town @745pm - as a Harrow fan I would have to admit this is not the sexiest fixture going but it's the highest level game on offer. The Boro, despite fairly meagre crowds, continue to muddle through and should survive for another season. Lowestoft are a much bigger club and have often pushed for promotion in the past but in recent weeks the Suffolk club have declared a financial emergency and their on-field fortunes have also declined. Only five points above bottom spot, they could very conceivably get relegated

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Enfield Borough v London Lions @745pm - with only the top two going up, the Panthers could throw a considerable spanner in the works if they were to beat the Lions who are currently third

A bit further afield
Probably the most meaningful game of the night takes place in Hertfordshire where Hitchin Town host Didcot Town in the Southern League Cup final which has been re-arranged after an earlier postponement - adult tickets are £10 and available on the gate

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Thursday 5 April

Europa League Quarter-Final First Leg
Arsenal v CSKA Moscow @805pm - after making light work of AC Milan in the previous round, the Gunners are now second favourites to win the competition behind Atletico Madrid. Next up are CSKA who scraped past Lyon on away goals. The Russian side are currently third in their league and won the Uefa Cup in 2005 (I was there) so do have some European pedigree but Arsenal should still win

Middlesex Charity Cup Quarter-Final
AFC Hayes v Hayes & Yeading United @745pm - if the Emirates isn't an option for you, then the alternative is obvious - the Hayes derby! Until fairly recently, these clubs were light years apart in terms of league position but now only one division separates them. AFC will start as underdogs but with H&YU up to their necks in a big promotion battle I'd be very surprised if they didn't rest a few

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Friday 6 April

Professional Development League
Crystal Palace v Huddersfield Town @1pm - get your weekend of football watching underway with this U23 game at Selhurst Park. The Eagles' youngsters look all set to finish top of the 'South Group' whilst the Terriers are currently in midtable in the north

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Tower Hamlets @745pm - if you fancy a bit of Friday night football then get yourself over to Cricklefield for this east London derby

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Saturday 7 April

Premier League
Watford v Burnley @3pm - it was mentioned above how well the Hornets have done to survive at this level, well even more credit is probably due to the Clarets who are not only surviving but are way up in seventh, a position they seem to have occupied for months. Current form would suggest Burnley are favourites but this has got goalless draw written all over it

Championship
Brentford v Ipswich Town @3pm - locked together in midtable at the time of writing, this will probably be something of a dead rubber by the time it comes round. The sides have only met at Griffin Park three times this century with the sides managing a win apiece and a draw
Millwall v Bristol City @3pm - a far more interesting game could well be happening at the New Den on the other side of town where two sides sitting just outside the top six meet for what could be an absolutely crucial match

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Scunthorpe United @3pm - there's another very important game at Kingsmeadow too were teams fighting for points at opposite ends of the table go head-to-head

League Two
Barnet v Forest Green Rovers @3pm - we're rapidly heading towards last-chance saloon time for the Bees. If they fail to pick up any points over Easter then their already terrible prognosis will turn terminal. FGR made a terrible start to life in the fourth tier and still aren't out of the woods but their situation is much better than Barnet's

National League
Bromley v Gateshead @3pm - after seeing off Gateshead over two legs in the FA Trophy semi-finals, the Ravens play the club from the north-east for a third time in as many weeks as they look to grab a place in the top seven

National League South
Welling United v Havant & Waterlooville @3pm - local rivals Dartford are also at home on Saturday with most there having an eye on this big game just down the road. It's probably just too late for the Wings to mount a title challenge but a place in the play-offs is theirs for the taking and they'll deserve it if they can beat current leaders Havant who are going for back-to-back promotions

Bostik League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Billericay Town @3pm - the Towners are usually part of the play-off chasing pack but it hasn't happened for them this season and they're going to have to settle for midtable. I've mentioned Billericay in this blog already so you know why I've picked this game. Hopefully, thanks to the usually lively Enfield crowd, there'll be a decent atmosphere

Bostik League North Division
AFC Hornchurch v Heybridge Swifts @3pm - the Urchins have topped the division for a long time and the title looked pretty much done and dusted. However, Friday's reverse at Bowers & Pitsea cut their lead to seven points and with Easter fixtures against talented teams like Potters Bar and Heybridge, it could get much closer if they start to choke
Haringey Borough v Canvey Island @3pm - London's other hopefuls for promotion, Haringey face a very important game against fellow contenders from Essex

Bostik League South Division
Corinthian Casuals v Lewes @3pm - at the time of writing these clubs are the top two in the division so this could become a title decider depending how the other Easter fixtures work out
Walton Casuals v Carshalton Athletic @3pm - the Robins could come into this game in second if they play their cards right over the holiday period and Walton are looking good for a play-off place themselves

Evo-Stik League East Division
Northwood v AFC Rushden & Diamonds @3pm - the Woods are having a pretty forgettable season so this match is more about their opponents who are top at the time of writing and could have made huge strides towards the title when this kicks off. If you're new to the English game, Rushden & Diamonds used to be a third-tier team who went bust before a group of fans re-formed them at a much lower level with the hope of building them back up

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Sutton Common Rovers v Bedfont Sports @3pm - given leaders Westfield have a big lead and games in hand, this match will probably go a long way to deciding who finishes second as it features the two teams immediately below them

Essex Senior League
Wadham Lodge v Clapton @3pm - the liveliest atmosphere in the ninth tier will probably be found in Walthamstow where the Clapton Ultras will no doubt turn out in decent numbers for their first away game in London for some time

Combined Counties League Division 1
Worcester Park v Fleet Spurs @3pm - given several games have to be played by several teams between now and when this gets played, it's hard to suggest how significant this match will be. Worcester Park are currently seven points clear at the top and have games in hand on all below them so it might be possible for them to win the title here

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Rayners Lane v Southall @3pm - after switching from the Hellenic League, Rayners Lane have endured a fairly tough season but they've kept their heads above water and should avoid relegation. Southall, usually one of our local sides, have spent the season groundsharing at Burnham quite a way outside London. Despite this they've had a fantastic season and should be crowned as champions but they're not home and dry just yet

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Sunday 8 April

Premier League
Arsenal v Southampton @215pm - at this stage of the season it would seem sixth is the best that Arsene Wenger's side can achieve, anything less would be a disaster and with Burnley only five points behind it could theoretically happen. Southampton simply need to win as many games as they can to try and stay up - their last away victory in the league against Arsenal came in 1987
Chelsea v West Ham United @430pm - the Premier League day ends with this London derby at Stamford Bridge where the Hammers arguably need the points a lot more than Chelsea do as relegation is so costly. Fans of these two clubs don't get on so the atmosphere could be highly charged

EFL Trophy Final
Lincoln City v Shrewsbury Town @3pm - if you'd like to attend a Wembley cup final then you've got your chance with this match. Traditionally this was a competition for clubs in the third and fourth tiers of the English league but over the last couple of years a number of the country's top academy sides have also been added much to the chagrin of many. Thankfully none of them have made it to Wembley where one of League Two's better clubs will take on the leaders of League One. A decent crowd of 40,000-50,000 is usually guaranteed which, although good, means it doesn't sell out so tickets are usually available - they are sold directly by each club so pick a team and order from their website. If you're reading this at the last minute, contact Wembley to see if any will be on sale on the day



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