Monday, 22 April 2019

TLFG: 23-28 April 2019

After three weeks where I've been incredibly pushed for time, this week has been a little quieter and TLFG is back to normal service with all its normal features restored.

The next few days will be amongst the most crucial of the season with Premier League and EFL teams preparing for their last two or three matches.

Below them, all leagues from the fifth to the 10th tiers will end on Saturday with the play-offs getting underway early next week.

There are also a few minor cup finals over the next few days to keep you going before a huge Sunday of women's football ends the week - Chelsea entertain Lyon in the Champions League semi-finals whilst Arsenal have the chance to win the FA Women's Super League at Brighton.

Over the last few weeks, I've been so pushed for time that I've had to delay mentioning a few things that readers have sent in.

One of the most important came from Nick S who made me aware of a charity sleep out taking place at Leyton Orient in aid of World Child Cancer. If you'd like to take part then follow this link for more details.

We're also lucky enough to have a video from our old friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who recently paid a visit to Clapton CFC - probably the biggest club anywhere in the English 12th tier.


On a personal note, my football week saw me take in two games.

First up on Tuesday I headed to Griffin Park to watch Brentford B take on Harrow Borough in the Middlesex Senior Cup Final. Boro acquitted themselves pretty well and at 1-0 down with eight minutes to go they still had a chance. Sadly those remaining minutes saw a collapse which resulted in them ultimately losing 4-0.

Despite the scoreline, it still provided a memorable night for the fans and players of the Evo-Stik League side. Once again I'd like to put on record how much I'd like to see other top London clubs put development sides into their local county cup competitions as they used to do in the past and how many northern clubs have always done. It gives the youngsters some competitive football against clubs who actually want to play them - unlike the Checkatrade Trophy.

On Friday I took my daughter to Loftus Road to see QPR play Blackburn Rovers, hoping that her status as good-luck charm would continue but it was not to be. The side that played were nowhere near as committed or as good as the one which thrashed Swansea last Saturday and they duly lost 2-1 - it could've been much more.

Harrow Borough's Joshua Andrew gets the chance to impress at Griffin Park
QPR suffered another defeat at Derby on Monday but thankfully, Rotherham lost again meaning Rangers are now mathematically safe from relegation with two games to go - phew!

Meanwhile, Harrow Borough bounced back from their cup final disappointment with a 9-1 thrashing of a hapless Staines Town side who were relegated weeks ago. With one final match at Salisbury on Saturday, the Boro could still finish as high as seventh which is way beyond what I was expecting at the start of the campaign so congratulations to everyone involved.

In other personal news I completed my 50th different parkrun at Valentines park in Ilford on Saturday but earlier in the week I missed out on a promotion at work so it's been a bit of a rollercoaster few days.

Lastly this week, many thanks to Peter S from the Netherlands who donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund this week. I really really appreciate it and thanks also for your kind words.

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 some crucial games in the Premier League and EFL and the final games in many of 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
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.

Tuesday 23 April

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion @745pm - with their new stadium now well and truly broken in Spurs play host to a game of huge significance at either end of the table. With their title challenge well and truly over, it's now all about securing a top-four finish and a place in the Champions League. With Liverpool and Manchester City having secured their places already, only two more remain and four of the country's biggest teams are fighting hard to get them. If Tottenham slip up here, then Arsenal and Manchester United both have the chance to capitalise on Wednesday. Brighton are in desperate need of the points to avoid the drop. It will be incredibly tough for them to get anything here but they picked up a point at Wolves on Saturday so can't be written off. Tickets are only available to members
Watford v Southampton @745pm - the Hornets have had a fantastic season and will move up to seventh if they beat the struggling Saints. Although Southampton will start as underdogs, they are a bit of a bogey side for Watford and have only lost one of their last 11 games against them. The sides produced a 1-1 draw when they last met in November. Tickets are available to non-members

Combined Counties League Division 1
Tooting Bec v Frimley Green @745pm - there's a huge game in the 10th tier where a win for the visitors will see them claim the CCL Division 1 title. Anything less will see them finish as runners-up. The hosts could finish as high as third but that won't be enough to get them promoted

Middlesex County League Premier Division
St Panteleimon v CB Hounslow United Reserves @745pm - despite being an 11th-tier side, the hosts drew some attention from this blog earlier in this season after some fine performances in the FA Vase. With the cup run over, St Panteleimon continued to impress in the league and now only need to draw this match to claim the MCFL title. Most of their home games have been at North Greenford United this season but this one is being played at Hendon's ground

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Wednesday 24 April

Hertfordshire Senior Cup Final
Boreham Wood v St Albans City @745pm - the Wood host Wednesday's final against their local rivals and will start as strong favourites. They are the reigning champions and have made four of the last five finals so it would appear to be a big priority for them. With Boreham Wood having already secured their National League status, St Albans are still involved in a tight promotion race leading me to think City might have their eye on bigger things. Tickets are £12 and unusually for a county cup final, rival supporters will be segregated which tells you something about the rivalry between the two clubs (this match has been added since the blog's publication on Sunday)

London Senior Trophy Final
Bridon Ropes v Erith & Belvedere @745pm - two of the top teams in the SCEFL Division 1 meet for a juicy bit of county silverware at Champion Hill, home of Dulwich Hamlet (not Fisher's ground as originally advertised). With Bridon Ropes now out of the title race and E&B still firmly in it, the former may well be more focused on winning this

Middlesex Intermediate Cup Final
PFC Victoria London v Pitshanger Dynamo @745pm - the sides who are likely to finish second and third behind St Panteleimon in the MCFL meet at Hendon for the chance to win a nice bit of consolation silverware
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Friday 26 April

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Leicester City @7pm - the Gunners' U23 side bring their season to a close with a match against the Foxes at the Emirates Stadium. On paper they should win and could finish as high as second in the PL2 table if results go their way. Tickets are only £4 and will be on sale to non-members from 11am on Wednesday until 3pm on matchday - you must purchase in advance and no tickets will be on sale on the night
Fulham v Norwich City @7pm - if the high society of Islington isn't for you, then you could head to leafy south-west London where the Cottagers take on their Canaries counterparts at the club's Motspur Park training ground. Tickets are £3 and are available on the gate
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Saturday 27 April

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United @1230pm - a packed day of top-flight action gets underway in the capital with this derby game up in N17. With the Hammers' season effectively over, it's all about whether or not Spurs can hold on to their place in the top four. Their old rivals from the east side of town will no doubt be more than happy to trip them up. Tickets are only available to members
Fulham v Cardiff City @3pm - in terms of importance, this match at the bottom could decide whether or not the Bluebirds join the Cottagers back in the Championship next season. With the hosts already down, Cardiff are three points adrift of safety with three games to go so defeat and positive results for Brighton and Southampton could all but finish them off. Tickets are available to non-members
Watford v Wolverhampton Wanderers @3pm - below the battle for European places there's also quite an intense fight to see who will finish seventh. These two are among a group of four who are all well capable of doing it. Apart from anything else, this will also be a chance for Wolves to avenge their recent painful FA Cup semi-final defeat where the Hornets came from nowhere to win in extra-time. At the time of writing, tickets appear to be sold out
Crystal Palace v Everton @3pm - in the day's other game, Palace entertain another side who are going for seventh. With their fantastic win at Arsenal securing their place in the top flight for another season, the pressure is well and truly off for Roy Hodgson's side. Not so the Toffees who will be aiming to follow their 4-0 crushing of Manchester United with another three points here. Tickets are only available to members

Championship
Millwall v Stoke City @130pm - Monday's results mean it's now a straight fight between Millwall and Rotherham for the last relegation place. The Lions are currently three points ahead with a game in hand so if they can win here against a midtable Stoke side going nowhere then they'll be pretty much home and dry as their goal difference is way better. Of their three remaining fixtures, this would appear to be the easiest so they've got to go for it. Tickets are available to non-members
Queens Park Rangers v Nottingham Forest @3pm - with the Easter weekend now out of the way, both these clubs' seasons are now over. QPR lost at Derby but the teams below them all lost too meaning relegation is now impossible whilst Forest are now seven points adrift of the play-offs with two games to go. With nothing at stake, the sides could really go for it and put on a bit of a show. With many players out of contract at the end of the season, QPR could well field a load of youngsters but you never know. Historically, Forest usually do pretty well in W12 and have won on two of their last three visits. Tickets are available to non-members

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Wycombe Wanderers @3pm - the Dons have been in the relegation zone pretty much all season and looked finished a while back. However, they've kept fighting and have stayed in touch with the rest of the pack. With the end of the season in sight they're just two points adrift with a game in hand on all of those around them. The three fixtures they have are not easy though - on Tuesday they travel to a sold out Kenilworth Road to play leaders Luton Town who still need points to win the title and then they welcome Wycombe for this one. Gareth Ainsworth's side aren't out of the relegation woods themselves yet so there's plenty at stake for what is also effectively a derby with Wycombe located just outside London. A few tickets are still available to non-members

National League
Leyton Orient v Braintree Town @1230pm - with all the relegation places filled and no-one from outside capable of breaking into the top seven, the final day of the National League is really all about deciding who will win the title. Currently three points clear and with a better, but overturnable, goal difference than Salford City and Solihull Moors - it's Leyton Orient's for the taking. They're also playing Braintree who are one of the four relegated sides whilst the other two have tricky away games to negotiate. After being in the depths of despair under very poor ownership only a couple of years ago, the O's have made a real go of it in non-league and are still on for the double as they are also in the FA Trophy Final at Wembley in May. Unsurprisingly tickets are sold out
Dagenham & Redbridge v Solihull Moors @1230pm - ironically local rivals Dagenham could play a part in deciding whether or not the O's win the title as they host one of their challengers at Victoria Road. The Daggers have avoided relegation so have little to play for but know that if they take anything off Solihull it will knock them out of the title race. Realistically only a major capitulation by themselves and Orient will make much difference but you never know. Tickets are available to non-members

National League South
Wealdstone v Hemel Hempstead Town @3pm - in the sixth tier we could be in for a real ding-dong at Grosvenor Vale where the Stones go into their final game knowing a win could squeeze them into the play-offs. Currently two points adrift, they need to take maximum points from this one and hope Billericay, St Albans and Dartford all slip up which is possible as they all have tough games. Hemel are usually among the promotion contenders themselves but have had a pretty mediocre season and should be beaten - they're also likely to bring quite a few with them as this is in derby territory too. Tickets are usually easy to get but with so much riding on this I could see it becoming all-ticket at some point in the next few days so buy online to avoid disappointment

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Hendon v Swindon Supermarine @3pm - after finding themselves just a penalty shoot-out away from a place in the National League South at the end of last season, it's been quite a comedown for fans of the Greens who approach their final game knowing that only a win will guarantee their place in the seventh tier for another year. With long-serving manager Gary McCann departing after that play-off defeat and taking several star players with him to Hampton & Richmond, it's become a season of struggle for Hendon and this match against midtable opposition is now arguably more important than that huge match against Dulwich Hamlet last May. If they do stay up, it's likely that fellow TLFG side Walton Casuals will go down instead as they face a tough trip to Wales to play Merthyr Town

Bostik League Premier Division
Carshalton Athletic v Bishop's Stortford @3pm - with Dorking Wanderers having already claimed the one automatic promotion spot and second placed Haringey Borough one of the four play-off spots, it's all about who will finish in the top five and claim the other three. Carshalton and Bishop's Stortford will come into this in fourth and fifth respectively but teams all the way down to eighth are still in with a chance so there's loads at stake. Also of note, if selected by Stortford, veteran striker Jamie Cureton (formerly of many EFL clubs) will make the 1,001st appearance of his career. Despite being 43 he's still the top scorer in the Bostik Premier this season

Bostik League South Central
Molesey v Northwood @3pm - in the eighth tier all the title winners and play-off contenders have been confirmed - it's just a case of deciding who will get home advantage in the post-season games. However, at the other end, Molesey have a chance to avoid the drop if they beat midtable Northwood here. They will also need Hertford Town and/or South Park to lose to be certain of staying up

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
London Tigers v Cockfosters @3pm - most of the promotion issues have also been settled throughout the ninth tier but there are still some relegation battles taking place. Arguably the biggest is this match - only two go down in this division and these are the current bottom two. If one of them wins they'll probably catch Stotfold who sit just above the drop zone and have a tough away game at Hadley. A draw will sink both of them so neither can afford to sit back 

Thurlow Nunn League Division 1 South
Hashtag United v Coggeshall United @3pm - the hosts have already wrapped up the league title and it's now up to them who finishes second. Coggeshall are currently second and to remain there and be in with a chance of promotion they have to match or better Halstead Town's result against Wormley Rovers

Surrey Elite Intermediate League Challenge Cup Final
Battersea Ironsides v NPL @3pm - two of the best named teams in the south-east do battle at Abbey Rangers' ground for a bit of 11th-tier silverware. Battersea narrowly missed out on the league title so will start as favourites against National Physical Laboratories (NPL) who finished down in tenth

Middlesex County League Division 1 Central & East
Clapton CFC v London Samurai @3pm - a highly dramatic 6-5 win over The Curve at the Stray Dog on Saturday kept the Tons in title contention. With two games to go, three teams can still win the division and two of them meet here. If leaders Stonewall win their game at Eastfield then the loser of this one will see their season effectively end. Although only a 12th-tier match, Clapton CFC regularly draw lively crowds of 500+ which some sixth-tier sides would be more than happy with. If you want entertainment then head to Wadham Lodge

Arthur Dunn Cup Final
Old Etonians v Old Carthusians @315pm - for those who are interested in football history and the roots of the game then this is definitely the match for you. Two of the oldest clubs, representing two of England's most famous public schools meet for the final of what is effectively the old boys cup. Both sides won the FA Cup back in the 19th century with Old Etonians making the final six times. When the professional clubs began to edge the amateur teams out of the competition, this cup was set up instead in 1903 in memory of the former England captain and Old Etonian Arthur Dunn. Since then, this competition has been dominated by Carthusians who have won it 28 times as opposed to Etonians who have won it just twice. The two are also currently second and first in the Arthurian League so Carthusians are very much on for the double. The match is being played at Merchant Taylors' School a short walk from Moor Park Tube station on the Metropolitan Line, admission is only a few quid and it all goes to charity and I'm told there are a couple of other games earlier in the day beginning at 10am

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Sunday 28 April

Women's Champions League Semi-Final Second Leg
Chelsea v Lyon @2pm - the Blues women find themselves just 90 minutes away from the most prestigious match in women's club football. To get there they will have to overturn a 2-1 deficit against the most successful club in the competition's history. Lyon have made seven of the last nine finals and won five of them. It looks like a tall order but they've got a chance and hopefully a decent crowd will turn out to watch them at the compact ground they share with AFC Wimbledon. Tickets are only £6 and there aren't a huge amount left so buy in advance if you do want to go

FA Women's Championship
Crystal Palace v Charlton Athletic @2pm - neither of these sides have anything left to play for so it's all about local bragging rights in this south-east London derby. I've included it here primarily because it's being played at Selhurst Park - men's games are usually very hard to get tickets for without membership but not so this match which is open to all. Tickets are £5 if bought in advance or £7.50 on the day

A bit further afield
Just beyond the edge of London in Merstham, you've got a chance to see the recently formed Surrey international side take on the Chagos Islands in a CONIFA-inspired friendly at 3pm. Whilst a few miles further south of that, Brighton & Hove Albion Women take on Arsenal at the Amex in a match which could see the Gunners clinch the FA Women's Super League title



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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