Sunday 24 March 2019

TLFG: 25-31 March 2019

Greetings one and all - how has the international break been for you?

Did you go to Wembley for England's resounding win over the Czech Republic? Did you try out some non-league football for the first time or just get more confused and/or frustrated by all the Brexit shenanigans?

It's been a great weekend for some of our local non-league sides with Leyton Orient and Cray Valley PM both making it to Wembley for the finals of the FA Trophy and FA Vase respectively.

Chertsey Town have just finished the first leg of their Vase semi-final and will be very optimistic about making it to the national stadium too after drawing their tough looking away leg against Northwich Victoria 1-1.

Tickets to see all of them take part in Non-League Finals Day on Sunday 19 May are already on sale and I can assure you that it's a great day out. It's £25 for adults but only £12.50 if you get a group of mates together which is what I'm doing - remember, that's the drama of two cup finals back-to-back for that great price.

The QPR Tiger Cubs have inspired many fans to walk miles and raise £££s since 2010
I've been entertaining some old friends from overseas over the last few days so haven't been to any games but I did learn that I've won a community award from QPR which will be presented to me on the pitch at half-time during the Bolton game on Saturday.

Back in 2010 I helped to set up what has become an annual supporters' fundraising walk on behalf of the QPR Tiger Cubs - a sports club for children with Down's syndrome. I'm not sure of the exact amount raised over the years but it's topped £100,000.

Most walks have started at Loftus Road and headed crosstown to a derby match with walks going to games at Crystal Palace, Watford, Tottenham, Arsenal, Charlton, West Ham and Fulham. The other years have seen us walk from QPR's training ground near Heathrow to a home game and we'll be doing that this year too.

With it being the 10th event, a real effort is being made to get people involved and donating with other walks being undertaken by fan groups abroad so hopefully we'll get a really decent amount.

In other news I'd like to give a mention to Essex Senior League club Barkingside who are celebrating their 120th anniversary with a friendly against Clapton CFC on Monday. They've had a tough year resultswise so a big crowd for this match would mean the world to them.

As mentioned a few weeks ago, nominations and voting are now open 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 so if you could put a vote my way I'd really appreciate it. NOMINATION VOTING CLOSES AT 2359 TONIGHT (SUNDAY 24 MARCH)

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. 

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

The highlights of the next few days include matches in the Premier League and EFL, an FA Vase semi-final and loads of games 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.

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 March

Professional Development League
The week gets underway with a couple of U23 games featuring Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace. Both south-east London clubs are hosting lunchtime games at their main stadiums so it's a great opportunity to visit The Valley and Selhurst Park on the cheap. Hull City and Sheffield United provide the opposition respectively

Barkingside v Clapton CFC @745pm - despite having a rough time in the Essex Senior League, the 'Side will still be doing their best to celebrate their 120th anniversary with this friendly. Although Clapton CFC play in the 12th tier, they draw crowds of several hundred (comparable to and better than many seventh-tier clubs) and have therefore been invited to take part in this historic occasion. A special programme and various other pieces of merchandise have been produced to mark the game so get yourself along to Cricklefield if you want to take part


Tuesday 26 March

National League
Leyton Orient v AFC Fylde @745pm - there is a busy programme of games in the National League on Tuesday night and this one immediately grabbed my attention. Not only does it see the league leaders host another member of the top five but the two clubs both made it through to the FA Trophy Final on Saturday so we'll get to take a look at both sides prior to their big Wembley match-up in May
Boreham Wood v Solihull Moors @745pm - if a trip for Brisbane Road isn't for you, the next best option in my opinion would be this match at Meadow Park. The Wood still aren't out of the fight to avoid the drop after suffering a woeful home defeat to fellow strugglers Aldershot on Saturday. Also in need of points are Solihull who are currently level on points with leaders Leyton Orient and are well in with a chance of the title


Wednesday 27 March

Essex Senior League
Leyton Athletic v Walthamstow @745pm - it's groundshare derby time at Wadham Lodge where the two clubs involved have had very different seasons. With no other teams in sight, Leyton Athletic are locked in a fight with Barkingside to avoid finishing bottom whilst Walthamstow are up in fourth and still have an outside chance of winning the title

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Cray Valley PM v Bearsted @745pm - CVPM are celebrating their centenary season and what a season it has become. On Saturday they drew at Canterbury City to make it through to the FA Vase Final at Wembley in May. They are also very much in the race to win the SCEFL title and have games in hand on all their challengers. If they win this game against midtable Bearsted they could climb to third

Southern Counties East League First Division
Bridon Ropes v Erith & Belvedere @745pm - a short walk from The Valley you'll come across the Meridian Sports Club which plays host to this hugely important 10th-tier game on Wednesday night. Currently third and second respectively, both sides have games in hand on leaders Welling Town who could very easily be caught before the end of the season

Friday 29 March

U23 Development matches
The biggest game of the day is the Premier League 2 derby match between Arsenal and West Ham United at Boreham Wood. It kicks off at 7pm and entry is usually free but check this on the day. Earlier in the day at 3pm, Watford take on Cardiff City at Wingate & Finchley's ground meaning you could very easily get to enjoy a 'double' on Friday

A bit further afield
There are a couple of non-league options on Friday. Firstly there's some ninth-tier action as Woodford Town entertain Sawbridgeworth Town in the Essex Senior League up in Harlow. Secondly, I've included an 11th-tier match in the Southern Combination where you can watch the brilliantly titled Brighton Electricity host Worthing Town at Withdean Stadium - the home of Brighton & Hove Albion from 1999-2011


Saturday 30 March

Premier League
Fulham v Manchester City @1230pm - a busy day of top-flight action gets underway at lunchtime with a game of critical importance to both teams. Second from bottom and with the worst form in the Premier League, the Cottagers find themselves 13 points adrift of safety with just seven games to go. If they are to mount a miraculous comeback it's going to have to start here against the reigning league champions. Pep Guardiola's side are the exact opposite of Fulham right now being second from top and in the best form - it would be quite possibly the shock of the season if they were to lose here. Tickets have sold out
Crystal Palace v Huddersfield Town @3pm - relegation looks even more certain for the visiting Terriers who are bottom and 16 points from safety. Despite this, they are still putting in a shift and were very unlucky to lose a seven-goal thriller at West Ham last week. As a result, Palace cannot afford to be complacent. With their own relegation fight not yet over, Roy Hodgson's side will view anything less than a win as a significant setback. Tickets are available to non-members but only in the Huddersfield fans' section of the ground
West Ham United v Everton @530pm - with the prize of a seventh-place finish the best either of these sides can hope for, there's not a huge amount at stake (bar a couple of million quid in prize money). There's been a lot of negativity around West Ham over the last two or three years but they always seem to get it together on the pitch to finish quite comfortably - they haven't ended below 13th since 2011. The Toffees are another solid member of the English football aristocracy who haven't really done much for years but at the same time rarely struggle - they haven't finished below 11th since 2004. I can't see it being anything other than a draw. Tickets are available to non-members

Stadium Test Event
Tottenham Hotspur Legends v Inter Forever @530pm - the second test event at Tottenham's new ground sees some old favourites return to the White Hart Lane pitch. Tickets are not available to non-members

Queens Park Rangers v Bolton Wanderers @3pm - QPR can pretty much secure their place in the Championship for next season with a win here against struggling Bolton. Sadly, Wanderers are in trouble off the pitch as well with the proud old club told by a court on Friday that they would be given two weeks to settle a £1.2m tax bill or face going into administration. Rangers' record against relegation-threatened sides is not good as shown most recently by the loss to Rotherham. However, QPR are unbeaten in seven against Bolton which must be one of the best records they have against any club. Tickets are available to non-members. If you want to get a cheap ticket, there are a few on re-sale through the club's official partner Twickets - I often get my tickets this way and you pick them up from the box office as normal

League One
Charlton Athletic v Bradford City @3pm - the Addicks extended their unbeaten run to seven games with a draw at Bristol Rovers on Saturday. Now 11 points adrift of automatic promotion and 10 points ahead of seventh, a play-off place is pretty much guaranteed. Another former Premier League side, Bradford are one of the biggest clubs in this division but they've failed badly on the pitch this season and will almost certainly be relegated. Tickets are available to non-members

National League
Barnet v Leyton Orient @3pm - the match of the day at non-league level must be this London derby between clubs who are way more used to playing each other in the EFL. Now both in the fifth tier, the O's won the reverse fixture 3-1 back in September and should expect to win here as Barnet are nowhere near the title-chasing team the O's have become. However, Darren Currie's side are starting to build a decent unbeaten run and they could cause a few problems

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Billericay Town @3pm - the biggest crowd of the day in the sixth tier will come at Champion Hill where the teams who both came up from the Bostik League last season meet again. Billericay ended up as champions, with Dulwich coming up via the play-offs with quite a rivalry getting built in the process. The hosts have found the step up tough, sitting just above the relegation zone for most of the season whilst Billericay have spent most of it in the top six despite another year of off-field turbulence. However, it is Dulwich who are currently in better form and cheered on by the best part of 3,000 fans, they have an excellent chance of three points here

Bostik League Premier Division
Haringey Borough v Lewes @3pm - the hosts kept hold of second place with a fine 3-1 win over Enfield Town in the 'Other North London Derby' on Saturday in front of a very impressive crowd of 875. Lewes have an outside shot at the play-offs and also drew a crowd of over 800 on Saturday as they beat Kingstonian 3-0. Two teams in a bit of form with large fan bases should hopefully mean a fine afternoon out for all involved

Bostik League South East Division
VCD Athletic v Haywards Heath Town @3pm - despite being up in seventh, the Vickers are nine points adrift of the play-off places with eight games to go meaning their chances of making the post-season look slim. If they are to have any chance then they'll need to win this as Haywards Heath currently occupy the final play-off spot and are therefore the team that everyone's trying to catch

FA Vase Semi-Final Second Leg
Chertsey Town v Northwich Victoria @3pm - nevermind the games in the National League, for me the biggest non-league match of the weekend is this one at Alwyns Lane. After drawing 1-1 in Sunday's away leg up in Cheshire, Chertsey find themselves just 90 minutes from Wembley where Cray Valley PM await the winners. Northwich used to be one of the biggest non-league clubs in the country, making the FA Trophy final three times but off-field problems have seen them slide down the divisions in recent years. This match must be the biggest in Chertsey's history and the last I heard no tickets were being sold in advance so you should just be able to turn up and pay on the day

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Welling Town v Kennington @3pm - having been top pretty much all season, the Boots now look in danger of being caught at the last moment. Although still six points clear, the three teams below them all have games in hand. A lot will depend on the midweek game between Bridon Ropes and Erith & Belvedere but Kennington are fourth and still in with a chance themselves. If the visitors win this and their game in hand then they'll be just a point behind but if they lose then their title chances are all but over - the stakes are high for both

Sunday 31 March

Checkatrade Trophy Final
Portsmouth v Sunderland @230pm  - the organisers of this competition must be delighted that two former Premier League teams have made it to Wembley this year. Demand for tickets has been unprecedented and both sides have sold out meaning the event is likely to get its highest ever attendance. With the sides currently only a point apart in League One's top four it should be a cracker

FA Women's Super League
Chelsea v West Ham United @2pm - if you haven't got a ticket for the match above, your next best option is this women's game at Kingsmeadow. Chelsea enjoyed a fine Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain in midweek and should start as favourites for this derby

A bit further afield
Just beyond the M25 at Cheshunt FC, Tottenham Hotspur Ladies will be entertaining their counterparts from Manchester United in this second tier women's game

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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