Monday 16 April 2018

TLFG: 16-22 April 2018

Greetings one and all and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

With the season reaching its climax, titles are being clinched and issues of promotion and relegation are being settled.

We've probably all seen by now that Manchester City were crowned Premier League champions again on Sunday and barring any spectacular collapses, the top four clubs look pretty settled too.

Chelsea and Arsenal will still want to finish as high as possible and still have cups to win so the air of gloom coming from many of their supporters is a bit bemusing to the rest of us.

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At the other end, Crystal Palace and West Ham look like they're probably going to survive so all in all it looks like being a pretty positive one for London's top flight sides.

It's a huge week in the Championship with our four local sides playing each other in a couple of cracking derbies - both are close to selling out with Millwall v Fulham looking like an absolute cracker on Friday night.

In League One and League Two - Charlton, AFC Wimbledon and Barnet face a frantic finish as they scrap for every point in the battle for a play-off place or to avoid relegation.

There also looks set to be plenty of drama in the National League too where Sutton United and Boreham Wood should make the play-offs but Bromley and Dagenham & Redbridge have an outside chance too.

Dartford are involved in a thrilling fight to the finish with Havant & Waterlooville in the National League South title race whilst it was very pleasing to see AFC Hornchurch and Carshalton Athletic both confirm automatic promotion from the Bostik North and Bostik South on Saturday - many congratulations to them.

On Saturday I finished work earlier than expected and headed out to the suburbs with a colleague to watch Harrow Borough take on relegation threatend Tooting & Mitcham United in the Bostik Premier.

The Terrors won promotion last season and many thought they would comfortably hold their own but it hasn't proved to be the case and they've been down at the wrong end of the table for most of the season.

In recent weeks they've slipped to the very bottom but with only one team going down this year because of restructuring they've stayed within touching distance of safety.

Harrow (red) and Tooting do battle in the Bostik League
As a result of problems on the Central Line, I missed the first 15 minutes and heard Harrow score the opener as I approached the ground.

The rest of the half wasn't a classic with few good chances at either end.

With Harrow already safe in the division for another season, I was impressed with how disciplined and determined they were particularly in defence as they thwarted the growing number of Tooting attacks after the break.

Eventually an equaliser came and it was stunning, lashed into the top left corner from distance to spark wild celebrations from the travelling support, some of whom ended up on the pitch!

Two further fantastic chances fell to Tooting in the closing stages but a combination of brilliant goalkeeping and some spectacular last-ditch defending kept them out and it ended 1-1.

With their main relegation rivals Burgess Hill losing at Leiston, Tooting climbed off the bottom and now know a win in their next game against Harlow could be enough to keep them up.
The Conifa World Football Cup is coming told London - find out more

Since I last wrote, the build-up to the forthcoming CONIFA World Football Cup here in London, has continued.

The big news this week was that Enfield Town will host the final on 9 June.

A number of teams have also released their kit designs which are pretty decent and are on sale now providing, in some cases, funds for teams to travel to the event.

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.

Full information about fixtures and tickets can be found here.

You may have noticed that a friendly between CONIFA members Barawa and Yorkshire took place at Haringey Borough's ground on Sunday. Yorkshire only formed a team a few months ago and ended up winning 7-2.

We're also lucky enough this week to have another video piece from our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game'.

This time, our intrepid duo went to the wilds of north London to see Bostik League club Haringey Borough continue their promotion push against Mildenhall Town.

There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include some big games in the FA Cup, Premier League, EFL and National League and there also some important county cup matches too.

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.

Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin

Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin

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 16 April

Premier League
West Ham United v Stoke City @8pm - the week begins with a big game at the wrong end of the table. A win would take the Hammers to 37 points and pretty much see them secure their top-flight status for another season. The Potters have had a terrible season and have to get something out of the game but even if they do, it will surely only be delaying the inevitable

FA Youth Cup Semi-Final Second Leg
Arsenal v Blackpool @7pm - the Gunners' U18 side have a chance to shine on the Emirates pitch as they look to clinch a place in the final against Chelsea who powered past Birmingham City 7-0 on aggregate in their semi. This one is far more tightly poised with the sides battling out a 2-2 draw in the first leg. Tickets can be bought online up until 3pm - none will be on sale on the night so do not turn up without one

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Haringey Borough @745pm - the best non-league option sees promotion chasing Haringey travel to Essex looking for a win which will leave them just one point off the automatic promotion places

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Stansfeld v Punjab United @745pm - with two games to go, only one point separates leaders Punjab and their nearest challengers K Sports. Therefore, every game is crucial for the visitors right now


Tuesday 17 April

National League
Bromley v Dagenham & Redbridge @745pm - these London rivals were among the promotion pacesetters earlier in the season and they could be again. Currently six and seven points adrift respectively but with two games in hand each, one of them could make great strides towards the top seven with victory here

Middlesex Senior Cup Final
Hendon v Staines Town @745pm - we've got an all-Bostik Premier clash for county honours at Uxbridge's Honeycroft ground on Tuesday night. On current form you'd have to marginally favour Hendon but both also have their minds on securing a play-off place so hopefully this won't be seen as too much of a distraction. The Greens have won the cup 14 times as opposed to only 11 wins for Staines but the Swans have been more successful in recent years with Hendon not having won it since 2004

Bostik League North Division
AFC Hornchurch v Mildenhall Town @745pm - the Urchins finally clinched a very well deserved promotion on Saturday. It's now all about them sealing the divisional title - a draw here against lower midtable Mildenhall will be enough


Wednesday 18 April

FA Women's Super League 1
Arsenal v Reading @730pm - the Gunners booked their place in the Women's FA Cup Final with a last-minute winner at Everton on Sunday. Next up is this league fixture against the Royals who are just above them in the table

A bit further afield
After two previous postponements, they're having another go at playing the Southern League Cup Final between Hitchin Town and Didcot Town. The match is being held at Hitchin's Top Field ground


Thursday 19 April

Professional Development League

Crystal Palace v Hull City @2pm - two of the best sides in the third tier of U23 football meet at Palace's training ground as the competition heads towards its play-off stage. Check all the details with the club before you travel, including whether or not the match will be open to the public

Bostik League Premier Division
Metropolitan Police v Staines Town @745pm - the Met have once again punched above their weight and earned another comfortable midtable finish - with three games to go, they have nothing left to play for. The same is not true for Staines who, with four matches remaining, can still make it into the top six

Middlesex Charity Cup Semi-Final
Spelthorne Sports v AFC Hayes @745pm - two CCL Premier Division rivals go head-to-head for a place in next month's final. They will meet the winner of the other tie between Hampton & Richmond Borough and Hanworth Villa


Friday 20 April

Millwall v Fulham @745pm - it's a blockbuster weekend of London derbies in the Championship and the TV companies have obligingly moved this one to Friday night so you could potentially see both. Aside from leaders Wolves, Millwall and Fulham are the two hottest teams in the division right now and consequently both are well on course to claiming a play-off spot. At the time of writing, tickets were pretty much sold out but check with the club in case they have any left

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Arsenal @7pm - if you can't get in at The Den then this U23 match at the London Stadium would seem like a fine alternative. Tickets are only £5 but you are strongly advised to book in advance as only a small section of the ground will be open

Bostik League North Division
AFC Hornchurch v Aveley @745pm - if the hosts don't get the point they need for the title against Mildenhall on Tuesday then they'll get another chance here


Saturday 21 April

FA Cup Semi-Final
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur @515pm - the biggest match of the week takes place at the supposedly neutral venue of Wembley Stadium but with Spurs playing their home games there they should have a bit of an advantage. Both sides had disappointing weekends and both have to play midweek away games ahead of this one so neither will be particularly rested. Apart from Arsenal, these two are the most successful teams in the history of the FA Cup but I still find it very sobering, as a child of the '80s, to get my head around the idea that Tottenham haven't won it for 27 years - they seemed to do it all the time when I was growing up!

Premier League
Watford v Crystal Palace @3pm - tickets for the match above will be very hard to get so try this London derby instead. The Hornets are pretty much safe for another season but Palace are fighting for their lives to avoid the drop so it should be a good game. At the time of writing there were literally a handful of tickets remaining so get in quick via Watford's website if you want to go

Brentford v Queens Park Rangers @3pm - I mentioned it was derby weekend in the Championship and this is the second of the two games. Friday's game at Millwall is the far more significant of the two in terms of league position but geographically and historically, this is more of a derby. If the Lions slip up against Fulham then Brentford will have a great chance to get into the play-offs themselves with victory here. QPR are the bigger club but have nothing to play for other than bragging rights which could free them up to enjoy their football and make them a more dangerous proposition than the table might suggest

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Oldham Athletic @3pm - the Dons gained an absolutely crucial 3-2 win at fellow strugglers Walsall on Saturday to leave themselves four points clear of the relegation zone with four games to go. Mathematically, any of the bottom 15 clubs could find themselves in League Two next season but realistically clubs like Wimbledon and 20th placed Oldham are among the most likely. This is an absolutely huge game for both clubs and some tickets are still available

League Two
Barnet v Newport County @3pm - the Bees have definitely improved following the return of manager Martin Allen but he will still have to work a miracle to keep them up. Five points adrift of safety with three games to go, they simply have to win every game. Prior to Saturday, Newport looked like a good team to play as they were in poor form but they then beat Swindon to give themselves an outside shot at making the play-offs so they should arrive with some motivation

National League
Bromley v Boreham Wood @3pm - these two pushed each other all the way in the National League South a couple of years ago and they both ultimately went up. As we head into the final weeks of this season, they both stand a big chance of making the play-offs again. The Ravens are a little way back but, as mentioned above, have games in hand that could make them a threat. It's still staggering to think that The Wood, with average crowds of 653, could be playing in the EFL next season but it's a very real possibility after their win over Chester on Saturday lifted them to fourth. The title is beyond them but a top three finish is quite possible
Leyton Orient v Wrexham @3pm - in terms of attendance, the biggest crowd of the day in the National League is likely to come at Brisbane Road where two of non-league's biggest clubs meet for a game which is of huge significance to the visitors. Currently clinging to the final play-off place and with the four clubs immediately below them all having games in hand, the Welsh club really need to win

National League South
Dartford v Bath City @3pm - the Darts extended their winning run to six games on Saturday to remain top. However, Havant & Waterlooville also won to stay second on goal difference and it's a difference of only one goal! With three games to go, neither can afford a slip up. Bath are a canny side who are still pushing for a play-off place so this could be extremely tricky

Bostik League Premier Division
Thurrock v Kingstonian @3pm - on paper this midtable clash isn't of huge interest but I've gone for it as it will be Thurrock's last home game before they sadly have to leave the league on financial grounds. With the club's benefactor having had some health issues, he has decided to stand down at the end of the season and no-one has been found to replace him. The club have resigned from the league and it's a credit to all involved that they've kept going and remained competitive in recent games
Tooting & Mitcham United v Harlow Town @3pm - with only one team going down, Saturday's results confirmed that only Tooting and Burgess Hill are now in the relegation reckoning. With only one point between them going into the final two games, the Terrors could stay up if they win this. Harlow have also been poor this season and only secured their place in the division with a win over Brightlingsea at the weekend

Bostik League North Division
Haringey Borough v Witham Town @3pm - with AFC Hornchurch already having claimed one of the two automatic promotion places on offer, any of the top six could still end up with the other. Haringey are the London club with the best chance and they should have too much for Witham who the Urchins thrashed on Saturday to go up

Bostik League South Division
Walton Casuals v Cray Wanderers @3pm - with the automatic promotion places already going to Lewes and Carshalton, these two are battling for play-off places and all important home advantage. Currently, Walton are just outside the top six and are the only team capable of breaking into it. Cray are third and with much better goal difference than everyone else, have effectively booked a place in the 'post-season' but they could still surrender home advantage if they lose their way in the last two games

Essex Senior League
Sporting Bengal United v Redbridge @12pm - the Motormen are the main London club challenging for honours in this division this year. Currently five points off top spot with four games remaining, it's going to be tough. Sporting Bengal have had to switch a few games recently and luckily for Redbridge they will be playing this 'away' game at their own ground. Note also the early kick-off which will allow you to combine it with another match in the area - the Ilford derby is probably walkable while Leyton Orient is a short ride away on the Central Line
Ilford v Barkingside @3pm - the aforementioned Ilford derby between two clubs who groundshare doesn't have a huge amount riding on it this year but a derby's a derby and it can be easily combined with the match above

Combined Counties League Division 1
Worcester Park v Bedfont & Feltham @3pm - depending on midweek results, the hosts will probably have the chance to win the title if they enjoy another victory here

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Holmesdale v Punjab United @3pm - if the visitors win in midweek, then they will just need to match K Sports' result against Erith & Belvedere to win the title. Even if they lose in midweek, a win here and defeat for K Sports will also see them finish top

Arthur Dunn Cup Final
Old Tonbridgians v Old Carthusians @3pm - lovers of amateur football and historians of the game will appreciate this match which is being played at Merchant Taylors' School near Watford. Named after one of the great amateur players of the game back in Victorian times, Dunn won the FA Cup and earned England caps before dying at the age of 41 shortly after proposing this competition to preserve the amateur roots of the game which he saw as being under threat from professionalism. At the time of writing, these two are second and third in the Arthurian League and have won the cup once each over the last two years so there's little to choose between them


Sunday 22 April

FA Cup Semi-Final
Chelsea v Southampton @3pm - Saturday's semi-final looks pretty evenly matched and tough to call but this one looks like a certain win for the Blues. Even though Chelsea have been far from their best this season, the Saints have been way off their recent standards and look almost certain to go down. To make matters worse for the Hampshire club, the two met on Saturday at St Mary's in the league with the London club coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 so their chances of making progress look bleak to say the least but this is the FA Cup and you never know what might happen. If you want to go, Southampton do have some tickets available to people with a previous purchasing history and this could open to general sale later in the week so keep checking their website for the latest

Premier League
Arsenal v West Ham United @130pm - you could see a far more entertaining contest at the Emirates where two clubs in need of the points at either end of the division do battle in this derby. Defeat to Newcastle this weekend has left the Gunners in grave danger of being leapfrogged by Burnley and ending the season in seventh. The Hammers probably need one more win to make sure of their place in the top flight and they could and probably should get that earlier in the week against Stoke

Uefa Women's Champions League Semi-Final First Leg
Chelsea v Wolfsburg @605pm - having beaten Manchester City on Sunday to reach the Women's FA Cup Final, the Blues face an even bigger match in Europe as they take on the two-time champions from Germany. It's been four years since Wolfsburg last won the Champions League but they were runners-up two years ago and are currently top of the Bundesliga so they should provide Chelsea, who have never been this far, with a very stern test

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.

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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