Sunday, 10 March 2019

TLFG: 11-17 March 2019

Greetings one and all and welcome to this week's TLFG.

It's been another significant week of football in the capital so he's a round-up of what's been going on.

If we didn't already know it, the chance of a London club winning the Premier League has now pretty much fizzled out following Southampton's surprise win over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. The north London club stay third but are now 13 points behind Manchester City and are in danger of being caught by Manchester United when they play Arsenal on Sunday.

Talking of the Gunners, if they lose to United, it could become a week to forget following their Europa League loss at Rennes on Thursday.

It was a different story for Chelsea who comfortably beat Dynamo Kiev and they could also close the gap on the top four on Sunday if they beat Wolves at Stamford Bridge.

Sadly Crystal Palace, Watford and West Ham United all lost as did Fulham who now look dead certs for relegation.

In the Championship, Brentford moved up to 12th after an impressive win at Middlesbrough and must now have half an eye on the play-off places which are now only six points away. QPR managed to draw with Stoke whilst Millwall suffered a desperately disappointing defeat to fellow strugglers Bolton to stay just above the relegation zone.

It's back on 6 April for Dagenham & Redbridge's game against Barrow

It was a great day in League One for AFC Wimbledon and Charlton Athletic who both notched hugely important wins over Doncaster Rovers and Portsmouth respectively. The Dons are still marooned at the foot of the table and will probably go down but they're starting to pick up some points and escape is by no means impossible. The Addicks seem to have been fifith forever and should finish there or thereabouts to claim a play-off place again.

Leyton Orient won the big match against Wrexham to return to the top of the National League. They must now focus their efforts on their FA Trophy semi-final against AFC Telford United as they look to do the non-league double.

In the sixth tier, Welling United became our top local club after their 3-1 win at Wealdstone moved them up to third. They also made the London Senior Cup Final after beating Harrow Borough in the semi-finals on Tuesday.

In the lower levels of non-league Cray Wanderers, Harefield United, Hashtag United, Hayes & Yeading United, Sutton Common Rovers and Welling Town are all leading their respective divisions with other London sides poised to challenge for top spot in several others.

My football week saw me head to The Rogers Family Stadium to see the aforementioned cup tie between Harrow and Welling. The Wings were the better side and comfortably won 3-1 and should give Brentford B a good game in the final.

In other news, Spurs finally announced the details for the long-awaited opening of their new stadium. There will be a couple of test events featuring their U18s and a Legends side before they eventually host a league game in April. Demand for all of these is expected to be massive with a season ticket required just enter the initial ballot for the test events.

To mark your card for future weeks, it's great to see that Dagenham & Redbridge are once again holding their annual 'Daggers Against Racism Day' for their match against Barrow on 6 April. One of the best things about this event is the reduced ticket prices which can see adults gain entry for just £2.50 - I'd advise you to book now to avoid missing out.

Nominations and voting also opened this week for the 'Football Blogging Awards'.

This is something I've never got involved in and I'm not even sure which category this blog would fall into but I got an email from the organisers giving me the info so I might as well give it a go.



There are many fine blogs including other local writers like 'The Cold End' and 'Two Men In Search of The Beautiful Game' who have made a huge contribution over the last few years.

Lastly this week, many thanks to Moran M 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. 

As always - enjoy your football and have a great week.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include action in the Europa League, Premier League, EFL, FA Trophy, FA Vase and loads of action in our local non-league competitions 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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple 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 11 March

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Leyton Athletic @745pm - it's a pretty quiet day across the country but we do have this one match in the ESL. With both sides in the bottom four, there's not a huge amount going for this one but it is pretty easy to get to being just a short walk from Mile End Tube station

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Tuesday 12 March

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Peterborough United @745pm - the Dons have had a pretty good seven days with a draw at Shrewsbury and an unexpected 2-0 home win over Doncaster. The gap to safety is now back down to seven points which has no doubt got a few fans dreaming of staying up again. Posh are chasing a play-off place so this looks like a tough ask on paper but so did the match against Donny. Tickets are available to non-members
Charlton Athletic v Burton Albion @745pm - the Addicks extended their unbeaten run to 11 games with a valuable win over promotion rivals Portsmouth on Saturday evening. An automatic promotion spot looks beyond them at this stage but their grip on a play-off place is looking increasingly secure with 10 games to go. Burton are a solid midtable side who came down from the Championship last season and made it to this season's Carabao Cup semi-finals - they're no mugs and could well be capable of getting at least point. Tickets are available to non-members

National League
Sutton United v Braintree Town @745pm - there are a trio of fixtures in this division on Tuesday and none of them really stand out. At a push I'd go for this one as it features Sutton who are pushing for a play-off spot and Braintree who are bottom and trying against all odds to avoid the drop. The other matches are at Barnet and Bromley

Bostik League South Central
Egham Town v Bracknell Town @745pm - just 20 minutes apart by train, there is a hint of derby about this game which will have ramifications at either end of the table. Bottom and 12 points adrift of safety, the Sarnies look almost certain to go down but they do have the knack of pulling off the odd upset with the draw against runaway leaders Hayes & Yeading raising a few eyebrows last month. Bracknell are second and pretty much certain of a play-off place so will start as huge favourites

SCEFL Challenge Cup Semi-Final Second Leg
Fisher v Corinthian @745pm - after grinding out a 0-0 draw in last week's first leg, two of the league's title contenders meet for a place in the final. Including that game, the sides have met four times already this season with Fisher yet to win. The last time they met at St Paul's was in the FA Vase and it produced a thrilling 4-4 draw so hopefully we'll have some more of the same

A bit further afield
Reading v Leeds United @8pm - one of the biggest games of the night anywhere in the country is taking place just to the west of London where the Royals are now on a three-game unbeaten run that has finally seen them climb out of the bottom three. Saturday's priceless win in the six-pointer against Wigan saw them climb up to 19th but defeat here could see them slide back down into the relegation zone almost immediately given how tight it is down there. After their recent blip at QPR, Leeds have recovered well with back-to-back wins over promotion contenders West Brom and Bristol City and will go top with a win here. Tickets are available to non-members
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Wednesday 13 March

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Rotherham United @745pm - for the neutral this doesn't look like a thriller and it probably won't be but it's of reasonable importance to both clubs. QPR picked up a point from a dour 0-0 draw with Stoke on Saturday (despite having an extra man for 79 minutes) to move 10 points clear of the relegation zone. The Millers stayed in the bottom three after an unsurprising derby defeat at title chasing Sheffield United. QPR haven't lost at home to Rotherham since 1951 and a win here would almost certainly confirm their place in the second tier for next season. Tickets are available to non-members

Essex Senior League
Walthamstow v Stanway Rovers @745pm - the hosts won 2-1 at Stanway in the reverse fixture on Saturday and climbed up to fourth in the process. The top London club in this league by some distance, Ryan Maxwell's side have had a good year and although the title realistically looks beyond them (10 points adrift with seven games to go), they could conceivably finish as high as second

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Welling Town v Erith & Belvedere @745pm - there's a top-two clash at Bayliss Avenue which means it doesn't get much bigger than this as far as this division is concerned. The hosts have been top pretty much all season but the much more experienced Deres are back in contention and although still six points behind, have a considerable four games in hand. The stakes are massive for both!

FA Women's Championship
Charlton Athletic v Millwall Lionesses @745pm - although there are some more important games in the Women's Super League on Wednesday, this south-east London derby would seem to be the biggest occasion as the two clubs' players are being given the chance to shine on the hallowed turf of The Valley itself. With the England team recording their fantastic tournament victory in the SheBelieves Cup in the USA last week, the buzz around women's football is considerable at the moment and hopefully a decent crowd will turn out. Tickets are £6 for adults

A bit further afield
Army FA v Surrey @730pm - if you're looking for something a bit quirky and want to add an unusual ground to your list then head down to the Aldershot Military Stadium for this friendly. It's a chance to see the long established Army team (founded in 1888) take on the very new Surrey international football side. To top it all, it's free to get in
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Thursday 14 March

Europa League
Arsenal v Rennes @8pm - on paper this draw against a midtable French team looked like a great opportunity for the Gunners to progress to the quarter-finals but after losing the first leg 3-1, they face an uphill task. Manager Unai Emery has a fantastic record in the competition, winning it three years in a row whilst at Sevilla so if anyone can turn it round then it's him. It's also Arsenal's only chance of silverware this season but is that more important than a top-four finish?

FA Women's Super League
Arsenal v Bristol City @730pm - with tickets for the above not available to non-members, this is the only other game in the London area. Being played at Boreham Wood, the Gunners' women's team are very much in the race to become league champions. At the time of writing they're second, two points behind Manchester City but with two games in hand. Bristol City are in the top five themselves but they'll do well to avoid defeat

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Friday 15 March

Peter Butcher Memorial Trophy
Barkingside v Sporting Bengal United @745pm - two East End clubs meet for a bit of cup football at Cricklefield in the day's only game. The 'Side are always welcoming to new visitors so get yourself down there - Seven Kings is the nearest station

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Saturday 16 March

FA Cup Quarter-Final
Watford v Crystal Palace @1215pm  - the game of the day takes place at Vicarage Road where two of our local clubs do battle for a place in the semi-finals which these days are played at Wembley. Neither side have ever won the FA Cup but both have made the final - Palace as recently as 2016 after beating Watford in the semi-finals. The Hornets are favourites to win here - they have home advantage and have won both league matches between the sides this season. Unsurprisingly it's sold out

Premier League
West Ham United v Huddersfield Town @3pm - with the Hammers past the all-important 38-point mark and Huddersfield 16 points adrift of safety at the bottom, there isn't a huge amount riding on this game. West Ham suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat at struggling Cardiff on Saturday to make sure they can't quite take their collective feet off the gas just yet but they should have too much for Huddersfield who have won only three times all season. A few tickets are still available to non-members

Championship
Brentford v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - the Bees' great run of results continued with a superb 2-1 away win at Middlesbrough on Saturday. The result lifted them to 12th, only six points away from the play-off places. In a division as crazy as the Championship, with 11 games to go anything is possible. West Brom have, generally speaking, had a pretty good season so there was shock around the country when news filtered through on Saturday evening that manager Darren Moore had been sacked. Although winless in three, they're still in fourth so it seemed like a very strange decision indeed. Games between these two have been few and far between in recent years - Brentford haven't played the Baggies at Griffin Park since 1998 when they won 3-0 in a cup game

FA Trophy Semi-Final First Leg
Leyton Orient v AFC Telford United @3pm - after winning their huge match against Wrexham to go top of the National League, the O's continue their push for the non-league double with another big game at Brisbane Road. Remember, the final of this competition is played at Wembley so both these clubs are just two legs away from a prestigious trip to the national stadium. Telford play a level below Orient so will start as underdogs but Brackley Town from the same division managed to win the competition last season so it can be done

National League South
Welling United v Woking @3pm - with away wins at Harrow Borough and Wealdstone over the last few days, it's been a great week for the Wings. Now up in third, this match against joint leaders Woking is even bigger than it was before. With only one team going up automatically both these sides should be well motivated to get the points

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Metropolitan Police v Kings Langley @3pm  - the Met kept up their improbable title push with a 4-2 win over Wimborne on Saturday. The Surrey club are only four points behind new leaders Weymouth who unseated long-term top dogs Taunton on Saturday. Kings Langley have been playing well for a while too and moved into the top six with a very impressive 2-1 win at Salisbury who are also amongst the leading pack. It's deliciously tight in this division, so this game could prove to be highly significant

Bostik League South Central Division
Uxbridge v Hanwell Town @3pm - there really isn't anything truly outstanding taking place in the eighth tier this week but this west London derby should be worth a watch. Neither side have a huge amount to play for which means the pressure's off and it could produce a decent game

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Walton & Hersham v Sutton Common Rovers @3pm -there's not a great selection of games in the ninth tier either but this match could prove to be important in the battle to see who ultimately claims the CCL title. SCR are top at the moment but Chertsey are only a point behind with five games in hand - in other words, this is a must win game for the visitors

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Meridian VP v Bridon Ropes @3pm - there might be other more important matches on in the 10th tier but this groundshare derby between two south-east London clubs very much in the shadow of Charlton Athletic is always worth a mention. The hosts have had a terrible season and are currently bottom so the smart money is on the 'visitors' who have an outside shot at the title
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Sunday 17 March

FA Cup Quarter-Final
Millwall v Brighton & Hove Albion @2pm - sitting just above the Championship relegation zone, the Lions are the lowest ranked team left in the competition. In Premier League strugglers Brighton at home, they've got one of the best draws possible. The game should prove a welcome distraction for both as they attempt to stave off the drop in their respective divisions. Both have made it to the final before but neither have won it. Given Millwall are at home and beat Everton in the fourth round, they've got a great chance to progress. Tickets have sold out

Premier League
Fulham v Liverpool @215pm - there's another big game at Craven Cottage where Fulham are entering the last-chance saloon when comes to staying up this season. After losing at Leicester on Saturday, Scott Parker's side are now 13 points adrift of safety with eight games to go. In reality you and I both know it's all over for them but if they were to win here who knows what effect it would have. Liverpool are still in the hunt for the title and, at the time of writing, a win here could put them top. Tickets have sold out

FA Vase Semi-Final, First Leg
Cray Valley PM v Canterbury City @3pm - your only other option on Sunday is this hugely important game for two ninth-tier clubs. Like Leyton Orient above, CVPM are now only two legs away from a Wembley final. The south-east London side have never been this far in the competition and getting to the last two would be a massive achievement in a competition recently dominated by clubs from the north east. The hosts are also going for the Southern Counties East League title so it could be a truly memorable season (it's also their centenary year). Canterbury are also in the SCEFL but are 26 points behind and lost 2-0 on their last visit to Badgers Sports Ground in January. Interestingly, Cray Valley have a forward line of Kevin Lisbie and Gavin Tomlin that is absolutely steeped in EFL experience so it's no wonder they're doing so well. Tickets are available on the gate with none on sale in advance so arrive early to beat the queues

A bit further afield
If you want to tick Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park off your list then you could do it while watching Reading host Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the women's FA Cup. The Royals play in the division above the Red Devils so should start as favourites but Casey Stoney's side have been impressive this year and will more than fancy their chances



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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