Sunday, 3 March 2019

TLFG: 4-10 March 2019

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

I'm going to keep my pre-amble brief this week as I've got to go to work (hurray I hear you cry).

One of the highlights of my week was a fine home win for QPR over Leeds United on Tuesday which ended a lengthy losing run and got us up to 42 points at long last. Normal service got resumed on Saturday, however, when we lost the derby at Brentford 3-0.

Talking of the Bees, their B team thrashed Barnet in the Middlesex Senior Cup to ensure they will host Harrow Borough in the final at Griffin Park in April - a huge occasion for my favourite non-league club.

After beating play-off rivals Poole Town last weekend, the Boro outdid themselves on Saturday by defeating league leaders Taunton Town 1-0 at Earlsmead to stay firmly in the race to go up.

If you live in the Harrow area and are yet to explore the world of non-league football, get yourself down to Boro who are fielding what I would argue are the best side in a generation.

Steve Baker's side have another cup semi-final on Tuesday so it could be a season to remember for the Reds.

After a few weeks on their travels, our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' have paid a visit to one of our local clubs.

North London club Hadley are pushing hard for the Spartan South Midlands League title - check out the video of their visit to the recent game against Wembley.


Lastly this week, many thanks to Christer S 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 WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include action in the Europa League, 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.

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 4 March

Premier League 2
The week gets underway with a selection of U23 matches with two at the elite PL2 level. Arsenal host Swansea City at Boreham Wood where it's usually free entry and West Ham United take on Blackburn Rovers at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground where there is usually a small entry fee - not more than £5

Professional Development League
With both of the games above taking place in the evening, you can easily combine them with one of the PDL U23 games which kick-off in the afternoon. What's more, the game at Watford is being played at Vicarage Road. Crystal Palace were set to play a match at Selhurst Park but this has now been switched to their training ground

Bostik League Premier Division
Carshalton Athletic v Harlow Town @745pm - the Robins have made a very solid return to seventh-tier football and a play-off place is still just about within their grasp. Harlow are battling relegation so it's an important game for both

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Tuesday 5 March

Friendly
Brentford B v Malmo XI @745pm - the Bees' second string have arranged another attractive friendly against European opposition. This is being played at Griffin Park and entry is free

Professional Development League
Millwall v Crewe Alexandra @2pm - if you've never been to The Den, this is your chance as the young Lions host their counterparts from Crewe in this U23 game

London Senior Cup Semi-Final
Harrow Borough v Welling United @745pm - having already qualified for the Middlesex Senior Cup Final against Brentford B, Harrow will also meet the Griffin Park club in the final of this competition if they can beat National League South side Welling here. On paper, the Wings should win but with a promotion battle on their hands they could conceivably rest one or two players

Bostik League Premier Division
AFC Hornchurch v Wingate & Finchley @745pm - the Urchins got promoted from the North Division last season and haven't quite managed to get clear of the relegation places. Wingate have been struggling for a while now but picked up a priceless away win at Kingstonian on Saturday to give them a fighting chance of staying up

Combined Counties League Premier Division
CB Hounslow United v Chertsey Town @745pm - the visitors created club history last weekend by making it to the semi-finals of the FA Vase meaning they are just two legs away from a Wembley final in May. As a result of this great cup run, Dave Anderson's side have a number of games in hand which if won will put them well clear at the top of the league. CB Hounslow are currently bottom so a return to the top looks very likely indeed for the Curfews

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Wednesday 6 March

Essex Senior League
Sporting Bengal United v Stansted @745pm - the pick of the day's games would appear to be this ninth-tier match at the Mile End Stadium where Sporting welcome the current league leaders for a game which could have a huge bearing on who wins the title

A bit further afield
There isn't a great amount of football in the capital on Wednesday so I've filled out the match map with a number of games taking place in the Home Counties with the most notable being the Evo-Stik League game between Hitchin Town and Tamworth at Top Field - a venue which is very popular with groundhoppers
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Thursday 7 March

Europa League
Chelsea v Dynamo Kiev @8pm - with the competition down to its last 16 teams, things are starting to get serious. The Blues won this competition in 2013 and are the bookies' favourites to win it this year too. The visitors, on the other hand, are 100-1 outsiders so should be seen off here without too much difficulty. Adult tickets for this are being sold at a flat rate of £25 and are on general sale now

Middlesex County League Premier Division
Pitshanger Dynamo v CB Hounslow United Reserves @745pm - if a trip to Stamford Bridge isn't for you then some 11th-tier action might be more to your liking. Pitshanger, from Ealing, have been chasing the MCFL title all season but are four points adrift of leaders St Panteleimon as we approach the final few games of the season. The visitors are also in the top five so should be tough opponents. Pitshanger play their home games at Bostik League club Hanwell Town so the facilities are better than most clubs at this level

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Friday 8 March

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Witham Town @745pm - the Millers' hopes of winning the divisional title would seem to now have ended but they're still in fourth and pretty much certain of a play-off spot. On Friday they welcome fellow Essex club Witham who have struggled this season and should be beaten

A bit further afield
If you're prepared to travel beyond the M25, the U23 game of the day sees Chelsea host Manchester City at Aldershot Town. It kicks-off at 7pm and adult tickets are £3.

There's also an U18 international between England and Wales at Slough Town - tickets are £5 for adults.

If you want to see some senior football and don't mind putting in a few more miles then there are important EFL games at Norwich City and Coventry City. There are trains back to London after both games so it is possible to do by public transport

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Saturday 9 March

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Brighton & Hove Albion @1230pm  - there is only one Premier League game in London on Saturday and it's an important one between two huge rivals. Palace notched up another impressive away win at Burnley on Saturday to move eight points clear of the relegation zone. Although still five points short of the magic 38-point mark that usually keeps sides up, you'd think that threshold might be a bit lower this year. However, complacency is a terrible thing and Brighton are a side in need of points. The reverse fixture in December ended in a 3-1 win for the Albion but the Sussex club have only won once at Selhurst Park since 1985 so the smart money would seem to be on Roy Hodgson's side - unsurprisingly it is sold out

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Stoke City @3pm - both of these former Premier League sides have been pretty underwhelming this season. After the highs of beating Leeds in midweek, QPR returned to their losing ways in time for the derby at Brentford where they comprehensively lost 3-0. While this defeat was being suffered, Stoke managed to beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 to leapfrog the R's meaning this game should be pretty closely fought. Worryingly for Rangers, Stoke are unbeaten in five against QPR so they seem to be becoming a bit of a bogey team. Tickets are available to non-members

League One
Charlton Athletic v Portsmouth @530pm - the match of the day in the third tier is this late kick-off between two promotion contenders, both of whom were top-flight clubs not all that long ago. If you're a neutral who's managed to get a ticket for the Palace game above, then you can easily combine it with this one. More realistically, it can also be combined with the Bridon Ropes SCEFL match taking place a short walk away. Tickets are available to non-members
AFC Wimbledon v Doncaster Rovers @3pm - the Dons picked up a point at Shrewsbury on Saturday but are still bottom, nine points adrift of safety. Things aren't likely to get any easier here as Doncaster are a top-six club and gave Crystal Palace a good game in the last round of the FA Cup. Tickets are available to non-members

National League
Leyton Orient v Wrexham @1235pm - the two biggest clubs in non-league football meet for what should be a blockbuster clash at Brisbane Road. Welsh club Wrexham are currently top, five points ahead of third placed Orient. However, the hosts have two games in hand so it's desperately tight. Given that both clubs average crowds of over 5,000 there should be well in excess of that for this one. Tickets do seem to still be available to non-members and I would recommend buying in advance. The early kick-off means you should be able to combine it with a number of other games on that side of town

National League South
Wealdstone v Welling United @3pm - after playing Harrow on Tuesday, the Wings have to make another trip to this part of town on Saturday for a crucial match against a side who are fighting hard to join them in the play-off places

Bostik League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Dorking Wanderers @3pm  - my match of choice in the seventh tier is of great importance at both ends of the table. As mentioned above, Wingate are scrapping for every point they can get to stay up. The visitors, on the other hand, have become one of the surprise packages of the season and with an 11-point lead at the top look almost certain to win the league

Bostik League South East Division
Cray Wanderers v Horsham @3pm - in the eighth tier we have a top-two clash at Hayes Lane. The hosts have been top for a long time and their 13-point advantage over second placed Horsham will almost certainly be enough for them to go up. If it's not already over, this match could well be a title decider

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Oxhey Jets v Hadley @3pm - the visitors are in at least a three-way fight with Tring Athletic and Biggleswade FC for the title. This match at eighth place Oxhey should be a good test of their credentials

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Erith & Belvedere v Stansfeld @3pm - the Deres have had a tough few years which have seen them suffer two relegations to end up in the 10th tier. Although currently in fourth, they have five games in had on leaders Welling Town so could be worth keeping an eye on in the closing stages
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Sunday 10 March

Premier League
Chelsea v Wolverhampton Wanderers @205pm - few would have predicted that these two would be ranked sixth and seventh coming into this match but that's the reality after a year of underachievement by the Blues and a stellar performance by newly promoted Wolves. The West Midlands club haven't won at Stamford Bridge since 1979 and have suffered some pretty heavy defeats in the process - maybe this could be their year to end that run - tickets are sold out
Arsenal v Manchester United @430pm - the week comes to an end with its biggest match between two members of Premier League royalty. Ole Gunner Solskjaer has had a huge impact on Manchester United's fortunes since taking charge recently and they moved above Arsenal into the top four after beating Southampton on Saturday. They also beat the Gunners in the FA Cup at the Emirates a few weeks ago so will start as favourites for me - again, this is sold out


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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