Monday 25 February 2019

TLFG: 25 February - 3 March 2019

I've been fortunate enough to have enjoyed a few days off this week which allowed me to gorge myself on not one but two games - almost unheard of for me!

On Tuesday I went to see an ailing QPR side take on a promotion chasing West Brom.

Things began badly with an early goal for the visitors and Rangers proceeded to get steadily worse from that point. However, a second goal didn't materialise and we somehow got level through Luke Freeman and could have even been ahead at half-time.

Another woeful error under no pressure by Joel Lynch lead to the Baggies retaking the lead against the run of play but again QPR fought back with substitute Tomer Hemed winning and converting a controversial penalty.

Steve McClaren's side looked capable of winning it at this point but with around 10 minutes to go and all subs used, play-maker Freeman limped off and we had to hang on with 10 men which we did until the last kick - Jake Livermore scoring from close range after earlier surviving a very strong red card appeal against him.

Ryan Moss goes in search of a fifth goal during Harrow Borough's emphatic win over Poole

It was heartbreaking for the players and extended their losing run to six games - it became seven on Saturday when they unsurprisingly lost at Middlesbrough and it could become eight when they welcome a talented Leeds side on Tuesday.

The run of fixtures has been tough - eight in February against most of the top clubs and a good Premier League side in the FA Cup - so hopefully things will calm down a bit in March and we'll get the three or four points we need to get us to the tally that usually sees teams stay up.

On Saturday I went to watch Harrow Borough take on Poole Town (Charlie Austin's former club) who had recently replaced the Boro in the play-off places.

Steve Baker's side were also going through a dodgy patch so I wasn't hugely confident.

The first half hour was close enough until a goalkeeping error gifted Frank Keita an opening goal.

After the break he grabbed another and Anthony O'Connor also netted a brace as Harrow ran out 4-0 winners in what became a pretty comfortable win.

Credit to Poole though whose heads never seemed to drop and kept going until the final whistle despite never seriously threatening.

For a much fuller report and some great photos visit 'The Grass Roots Tourist' blog - you might even see a cheeky photo of me.

Talking of photos, I switched to a new phone recently (Huawei P20), did a bit of basic research on camera shutter speeds and my pictures have improved hugely - they've even been used on Harrow's website after yesterday's game. What an honour!

Sticking with the subject of Harrow Borough, on Tuesday they defeated local rivals Hayes & Yeading United on penalties to make it to the Middlesex Senior Cup Final in April which this year will be played at Griffin Park against either Brentford B or Barnet. What a great opportunity for everyone involved with the club given the famous old ground will be shut at the end of next season.

It's been great to hear from quite a few of you this week with your comments, questions and updates.

Whether you've been to the Carabao Cup Final or Clapton CFC it's been great to learn about your travels and adventures watching the capital's clubs.

I also received an email from an amateur club in Catalonia who are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year and coming to London between the 5-7 April and are looking for a friendly as part of those celebrations. I've told them that finding an opponent over a weekend could be tricky but if your club are without a game and you'd be interested in hosting UE Sant Miquel then let me know.

I'm back to work this week so there won't be any live action for me.

Lastly this week, many thanks to Bryan and Cat D who donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund this week. I really really appreciate it.

To recap, I recently received the news that my Dad has lung cancer. This condition also claimed the lives of my Mum and grandfather so with me powerless to do anything medically to help him, I've decided to ask for all donations to this blog to go to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which you can contribute to through the fundraising page I've set up. 

Anyway, enough about me - enjoy your football and keep in touch.

The highlights of the next few days include action in the Premier League, EFL and loads of action in our local non-league competitions. There are also some eye-catching U23 matches too.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or the venue or kick-off time has changed - this is highly possible for some of the lower non-league clubs. 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 25 February

Premier League Cup
Charlton Athletic v Peterborough United @1pm - with this match kicking off at lunchtime, it's very easy to do a 'double' on Monday and see two games. This U23 game is being played at Greenwich Borough's ground in south-east London. This competition is coming towards the end of the group stage and sadly neither of these sides have any chance of making progress

National League South
Wealdstone v Billericay Town @745pm - the biggest game of the day takes place at Grosvenor Vale over in Ruislip where two of the top eight do battle. Both sides are in great form so it should be well worth a watch


Tuesday 26 February

Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United @745pm - QPR's hectic February schedule (eight games in the month) continues with a tough match against title-chasing Leeds. After a purple patch earlier in the season, things have gone badly wrong for Steve McClaren's team who have lost seven in a row in the league to go bottom of the division's form table. With three wins from five, Leeds are by no means invincible and Rangers did beat them in the FA Cup a few weeks ago but with morale presumably low, the hosts will probably be overjoyed to get a draw - tickets are available

National League
Barnet v Chesterfield @745pm - after their lengthy runs in the FA Cup and FA Trophy, the Bees have a number of league games to make up. Chesterfield got relegated from the EFL alongside Barnet last season and, despite a great start, have really struggled. However with three wins from five, their results have improved a lot in recent weeks and they're now out of the relegation zone but only just. The hosts, on the other hand, are just above them but really struggling to find a win. It's a highly important game for both and it really could go either way

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Hendon v Weymouth @745pm - with only one win in 15 games (all competitions) the Greens welcome third place Weymouth for another very tough match. In recent weeks Hendon have taken points off decent sides like Salisbury and Merthyr Town and they'll also no doubt be hoping the Dorset side's near 300-mile midweek round trip will take its toll on their players

Tooting & Mitcham United v Crystal Palace U23 @730pm - with the Eagles having seen their match against Watford postponed, fellow south Londoners T&MU have stepped in at short notice to make sure they get a game. Adult tickets are available on the gate for £5 - check all the details with the club before you travel as they can change at short notice

A bit further afield
If you're in the mood for a bit of U23 football with a European flavour, head north to Stevenage where Tottenham Hotspur take on Dinamo Zagreb at 7pm in the quarter-finals of the Premier League International Cup. Adult tickets are £5 and can be bought in advance 

Wednesday 27 February

Premier League
Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth @745pm - it's a big night of top-flight football in London on Wednesday with three games, sadly none of which you'll be able to get tickets for without serious expense (i.e. via the black market or hospitality). Arsenal comfortably beat Southampton on Saturday to climb back into the top four at Manchester United's expense. The Cherries are winless in three and have only beaten the Gunners once in their entire history so a home win looks almost certain
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur @8pm - the game of the night would appear to be this derby at Stamford Bridge. The Blues suffered defeat on penalties in Sunday's Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City so they'll either be really down coming into this or will be fired up and ready to erase the memory. All is not well between the manager and some of his players so the hosts will do well to beat a far happier Spurs squad who suffered a shock defeat at Burnley over the weekend. It's a tough one to call and I'll boringly go with a 1-1 draw
Crystal Palace v Manchester United @8pm - at first glance most would immediately expect an away win. United are in good form and way further up the table than their hosts, historically their head-to-head record is vastly superior and Palace are winless in 12 against them. However, Roy Hodgson's team are on a decent little run of form at the moment. Unbeaten in four in the league and through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, this side drew the reverse fixture at Old Trafford and are more than capable of causing an upset

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Cray Valley PM v AFC Croydon Athletic @745pm - the hosts sensationally made it through to the FA Vase semi-finals on Saturday which means they're now just two legs away from a Wembley cup final. As a result of this cup run they've got a few games to make up on those around them with a win here possibly lifting them up to third

Thurlow Nunn League Division 1 South
Lopes Tavares v Fire United @745pm - there's a 10th tier groundshare derby taking place at the Terence McMillan Stadium in Newham on Wednesday. Neither side are having a great season but with both having links to and fielding numerous players from Brazil it should be interesting


Thursday 28 February

Middlesex Senior Cup Semi-Final
Barnet v Brentford B @745pm - as far as I can tell, this is pretty much the only senior men's game going on anywhere in the country. For me it's of huge significance as the winners will play my beloved Harrow Borough in the final at Griffin Park in April. With Barnet having league games on Tuesday and Saturday, the chances of them playing anything other than a reserve or U23 side are remote but technically it is listed by the Middlesex FA as a first-team game for the hosts. Adult tickets are £4


Friday 1 March

Premier League 2 and Professional Development League
Friday has a great selection of U23 action which is staggered throughout the day meaning you'll easily be able to see two games. To make things even better, the matches featuring Charlton Athletic and QPR are being played at The Valley and Loftus Road respectively although you'll have to pick one as they both start at 2pm. Watford have a game against Millwall at Wingate & Finchley's ground at 3pm whilst Fulham entertain Newcastle at their training ground, which is open to the public, at 7pm. As always, check all the details before you travel

A bit further afield
If you're prepared to travel beyond the M25, the U23 game of the day sees Tottenham Hotspur make another trip up to Stevenage to play Chelsea. It kicks-off at 7pm and adult tickets are £5 which can be bought in advance


Saturday 2 March

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal @1230pm  - there are some big games in London this week but this is definitely the biggest. The 'North London Derby' is always a huge occasion but one that has historically been dominated by the Gunners - they are 19 wins ahead in a rivalry which dates back to 1909. The sides have played twice at the Emirates already this season with Arsenal winning the league game and Spurs the Carabao Cup one. Normally tickets are like goldust but given it's at Wembley and there's a much bigger capacity, if you got yourself on the Tottenham ticket database before the 1 August 2018 then you'll be in with a chance of getting one when they go on restricted general sale on Monday (25 Feb) at 10am
West Ham United v Newcastle United @530pm - if you can't get one for the derby above then West Ham won't let you down. The Hammers have become one of the go-to clubs this season if you want to buy a Premier League ticket with pretty much every match having some availability for non-members. With the midtable hosts having little to play for even at this relatively early stage, the visit of a side with a reputation for 'parking the bus' away from home isn't a hugely appealing one so tickets are available in most areas of the stadium

Brentford v Queens Park Rangers @3pm - talking of derbies, there's another big one over in west London. With the hosts moving to a new stadium in time for the start of the 2020/21 season this will be the penultimate time these old rivals will play each other in a league game at Griffin Park. Things were looking pretty grim for the Bees a couple of months ago but they've turned things round well and thumped Hull City 5-1 on Saturday to pretty much end any lingering relegation fears they might have had. QPR, as mentioned above, are in terrible form and haven't won in TW8 since 2003. The match is virtually sold out with any remaining tickets available to members only
Millwall v Norwich City @3pm - although not a derby, this match at The Den is of far greater importance and will have significant ramifications at either end of the table. The Lions lost comfortably at home to Preston on Saturday to remain just above the relegation zone so any points they can get here will be gratefully received. However, Norwich are going for the title and need the win to stay top. Unlike the derby at Griffin Park, tickets are on general sale

National League
Sutton United v Hartlepool United @3pm - there are three games in the fifth tier on Saturday with this the biggest of those on offer. The U's lost on Saturday to extend their winless run to three games, falling out of the play-off places in the process. With average crowds of over 3,000, former EFL club Hartlepool are one of the biggest clubs in the division but, although only four places behind, have a big points deficit to make up and will almost certainly miss out on promotion this season

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Dartford @3pm - the biggest crowd in the sixth tier will come at Champion Hill where the Hamlet are routinely attracting between 2,500-3,000 fans through the turnstiles. It's also important at both ends of the table with Dulwich needing a few more points to make sure of avoiding the drop and the Darts looking to make sure of a play-off spot

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Harrow Borough v Taunton Town @3pm - the Boro kept in touch with the play-off places by trouncing a fine Poole Town side 4-0 on Saturday to remain the top scorers in the division. If they win their midweek game in hand, they will be right back in amongst it. Taunton won promotion last season and are five points clear at the top. The Somerset side thrashed Harrow 7-0 back in December in a controversial game which saw three of the visitors' players sent off in the first half. No doubt Steve Baker's side will want to improve on that

Bostik League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Tonbridge Angels @3pm  - there should be a healthy crowd at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium where two of the league's top six fight it out in what is a tight race for the play-offs. With around 10 games to go, most of the top 10 will feel they are still in with a chance

Bostik League South East Division
Phoenix Sports v Cray Wanderers @3pm - firmly lodged in midtable, the season is pretty much over for the hosts but they can play a small role in deciding who wins the title as they welcome current leaders Cray for this local derby. The impact they make on the title race could be minimal as Cray are way out in front but Horsham cut their lead by a point on Saturday so anything's possible - right?

Essex Senior League
Ilford v Barkingside @3pm - not a huge amount leaps out at me in the ninth tier but there is a groundshare derby at Cricklefield where the 'Side will look to get back off the bottom of the table, a position they slipped to after losing at Clapton on Saturday

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Bridon Ropes v Welling Town @3pm - for me the pick of the games in the 10th tier is this top-five clash near Charlton which probably qualifies it to be a derby too. The Boots have been top for most of the season but if the hosts win this and their games in hand then they won't be far behind

Sunday 3 March

Premier League
Watford v Leicester City @12pm - the Hornets' great season continued on Friday night with a 5-1 away win at Cardiff. The result moved them up to seventh which, given the 10-point gap between themselves and Chelsea in sixth, is as good as it's likely to get. Leicester suffered a surprisingly heavy 4-1 loss at home to Crystal Palace over the weekend which resulted in the East Midlands club sacking their manager on Sunday after picking up just one point from six games. A home win looks highly likely unless the Foxes appoint someone quickly and enjoy a new manager bounce. The last few tickets are available to non-members
Fulham v Chelsea @205pm - with Brentford and QPR fighting it out on Saturday, the other two west London clubs meet for another derby on Sunday. Of all the big club derbies in London, these two are in closest proximity to each other with their grounds just over a mile apart. The Cottagers are second from bottom and eight points adrift of safety but this Chelsea side are in trouble at the moment and could be vulnerable if former Blues boss Claudio Ranieri can really get his players up for it. If you have a previous purchasing history with Fulham then you might be able to secure one of the last tickets

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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