Monday 18 April 2022

TLFG: 19-24 April 2022

With the Easter programme of fixtures now behind us, the end of the season is nigh.

On Saturday, all leagues from the seventh to 10th tiers see their regular seasons conclude, which means it could be a pretty exciting week for some clubs.

A little disappointingly, quite a lot has already been decided but there are a handful of really important games which I've outlined in the 'Daily Digest' below.

Talking of Easter, how many games did you manage to cram in?

With all my other commitments, I got to Earlsmead for the Harrow Borough v Walton Casuals game as I mentioned last week.

A fine afternoon out with my girls at Harrow Borough

It was competitive but not a classic, with the Boro missing numerous gilt-edged chances in a 0-0 draw.

For me it was a landmark moment as it saw me attend a game with both my daughters for the first time.

When the three-year-old said she wanted to go home after 10 minutes I thought it was going to be a long afternoon.

Thankfully with the help of my eldest, we made it through fairly easily in the end, with a trip to the tea bar for chips and a Kit-Kat being the highlight.

A solid midtable finish is certain for Steve Baker's side and when you combine this with the team's memorable FA Cup run too, this season can go down as a success.

Whether he can keep the squad together remains to be seen but if the attacking talents of James Ewington and George Moore can be retained, then they'll have more than a fighting chance of holding their own again.

Given who's going up and down between the divisions, I'd be quite surprised if Harrow are in the same division next season.

At this level, all the clubs are divvied up between the parallel regional leagues at the start of the season on geographical basis.

Clubs on the edge of catchment areas often really suffer and Harrow have found themselves in that position since joining the Southern League in 2018.

Don't get me wrong, I've loved some of the away days and would be happy to see them stay where they are but regular trips to places like Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Wales don't come cheap and can be a real burden for a club of Harrow's size.

Personally I think Harrow will end up in the Southern League's Premier Division Central or they'll return to their old stomping ground in the Isthmian League - I'd prefer the former and all the new grounds it would bring.

Anyway I think that's about it from me. I'm working late shifts for the next seven days so I won't be seeing any football for a while.

Oh yes, before I go, there's a possible 'Groundhop Triple' on Saturday - check the digest below for details.

Whatever you get up to - enjoy! 

                                                             THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in the Premier League, EFL, most of our local non-league competitions and the Women's Super League 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 - turquoise 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.

Tuesday 19 April

Fulham v Preston North End @745pm - this could be the game that the Cottagers seal their return to the Premier League. It should've happened over the weekend but they suffered a shock defeat by strugglers Derby at Pride Park. With Nottingham Forest winning on Monday then they'll need to win here to go up. Unsurprisingly, it's sold out

Professional Development League
Charlton Athletic v Cardiff City @1pm - if you've never been to The Valley before, this U23 match provides you with a good chance to do it on the cheap. However, Charlton games are notorious for changing venue at short notice so check before you leave

CCL Premier North
Southall v Tadley Calleva @745pm - with Abbey Rangers only managing a draw at Ascot on Monday, the 'All will now finish as runners-up whatever happens here. This means at least a play-off spot and possibly automatic promotion

MCFL Premier
NW London v Larkspur Rovers @745pm - currently top, the hosts are looking increasingly likely to take the title. I say likely as a couple of teams below them have games in hand which complicates the table. One of those are Larkspur and they really need to win here to keep any hopes of finishing top alive


Wednesday 20 April

Premier League
Chelsea v Arsenal @745pm - postponed because of the Blues' participation in the Club World Cup, we've got this huge London derby to look forward to on Wednesday. The hosts have pretty much got a top-four finish confirmed but it's not the case for the Gunners who, with four defeats from five, keep wasting chances to join them. The slight bit of good news is that they've taken four points from their last two visits to Stamford Bridge. As I understand it, tickets are not available because of sanctions

Isthmian Premier
Cray Wanderers v East Thurrock United @745pm - there's a big relegation 'six-pointer' at Hayes Lane where two of the bottom four fight for three precious points. In this division, the bottom two go down automatically and the third bottom club go into a play-off for survival

CCL Division 1
London Lions v AFC Hayes @745pm - Hilltop drew with Enfield Borough on Monday, meaning the hosts will become champions if they win here

MCFL Premier
Pitshanger Dynamo v Brentham @745pm - this 11th-tier match has got a lot going for it. It's a local derby, Brentham are still in with a shot of the title and it's being played at Ealing Trailfinders rugby club (not the main stadium) which should get groundhoppers excited as it did when Piccadilly FC played there last year

Middlesex Junior Cup Final
AFC Spelthorne v Hayes & Hillingdon @745pm - the county cup finals are going to start coming thick and fast now. This one features a couple of 12th-tier teams and it's being played at North Greenford United

CCL Women's Cup Semi-Final
London Seaward v Ashford Town (Middlesex) @745pm - for fans of the women's game, this cup match at Wadham Lodge looks interesting. The hosts play a level above Ashford but they've upset higher-ranked clubs already this season and have just sealed the London & South East League title ahead of clubs like Fulham and Millwall

Thursday 21 April

London Underground League
South Western Railway v Waterloo & City Line @4pm - if youth football isn't for you then this match in the increasingly popular LU League could be. Played at the Market Road facility near Caledonian Road Tube, this Second Division derby game will see new club SWR seal promotion with a victory over their local rivals 


Friday 22 April

Suburban League
Bromley v Chippenham Town @730pm - it's all about youth and development football on Friday and I'd say this U23 game is the pick of what's on offer. Currently third and second, either will go top with a win in what is a very tight title race


Saturday 23 April

Premier League
Arsenal v Manchester United @1230pm - out of form and on a very tough run of games, this week may well come close to determining whether the Gunners finish in the top four. If they beat Chelsea and follow it up with another win over the Red Devils then things will look a lot different from how they do now. Arsenal's recent bad form has let the visitors right back into the race for the top four so the stakes are high for both. Tickets are not available to non-members
Brentford v Tottenham Hotspur @530pm - with four wins from their last five, the Bees' players and fans are having the time of their lives. Now up to the dizzying heights of 11th, it's now more about how high they can finish rather than whether they'll go down. Spurs looked like favourites to finish fourth until they lost at home to Brighton on Saturday. As a result, all the pressure will be on them during this derby. If selected, it will also be Christian Eriksen's first game against his old club. Tickets are not available to non-members

League One
Charlton Athletic v Shrewsbury Town @3pm - with the Addicks and the Shrews now both safe from relegation, there's not a huge amount riding on this which could actually produce a great game as the pressure will be off. Tickets are available

League Two
Leyton Orient v Northampton Town @3pm - like Charlton, the O's season is over too but a place in the top half is still on if they win their remaining games. It's not like that for the Cobblers though who can still make it into the automatic promotion places. Tickets are available

National League
Boreham Wood v Bromley @3pm - a crosstown derby between two clubs who still have their eyes on a play-off place should be well worth a watch. The last meeting between them in September produced a five-goal thriller which The Wood edged 3-2 so hopefully we'll get something similar
Dagenham & Redbridge v King's Lynn Town @3pm - a game of significance at either end of the table, the Daggers are the highest-ranked London club in this division and best placed to get into the play-offs. The visitors looked consigned to relegation a long time ago but a decent run of form has given them an outside chance of avoiding the drop. However, if they lose here and other results go against them, they could go down

National League South
Dartford v St Albans City @3pm - the Darts lost their crunch match against leaders Maidstone on Monday, putting them out of the title race. They have, however, confirmed a play-off place but will want to build momentum ahead of these all-important games. The Saints, on the other hand, are in the race for the last play-off spot which, even at this late stage, still has nine clubs vying for it

Isthmian League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Bognor Regis Town @3pm - the Isthmian League reaches its final round of regular-season games on Saturday. The title has been won by Worthing and all four play-off places have been claimed with one of them going to the Towners. With their superior goal difference, Bishop's Stortford are likely to finish second whilst Cheshunt can't finish higher than fifth. It's therefore a battle for third between Enfield and Hornchurch who are level on points. For the north London club to claim third and get home advantage in the play-offs, they simply have to better the Urchins' result against Wingate & Finchley as their goal difference is vastly inferior

Isthmian League South Central
Bedfont Sports v Bracknell Town @3pm - on paper, the biggest game of the day in the eighth tier is this clash of the top two. However, there's not a lot riding on it as Bracknell have already won the title and Bedfont have confirmed their play-off spot and home advantage in the semi-finals. The only thing at stake is whether they or Chertsey finish as runners-up. With marginally better goal difference, they just have to match the Curfews' result to end up in second

CCL Premier Division South
Beckenham Town v Camberley Town @3pm - with the Becks losing at Raynes Park and Walton & Hersham beating Fleet Town, the title will be decided by the outcome of this game. As it stands, W&H have completed their fixtures and lead by two points. Therefore nothing less than a win here will give Beckenham the honours. For the record, Camberley are 12th and have nothing to play for

SCEFL Division 1
Tooting Bec v Forest Hill Park @3pm - there's not a huge amount left to decide in the 10th tier but one thing that does need to be determined is who will claim the final play-off place in this division. The Bec currently sit just outside the top five but have possibly the best run-in they could have asked for - two games against an already relegated bottom two. If they beat Chessington & Hook on Tuesday, then fifth will be theirs to lose

Anagram Records Trophy Final
NW London v Sandridge Rovers @745pm - being played at Uxbridge's ground in the evening, this match gives you the chance to easily see two games in a day. It pits the current Middlesex County League leaders against a midtable side from the parallel Herts County League so the smart money would appear to be on NW London

MCFL Premier
Clapton CFC v Larkspur Rovers @3pm - a large crowd is also expected in Walthamstow where the Tons play what is likely to be their last match at 'The Stray Dog' ahead of returning to their spiritual home at 'The Old Spotted Dog' in Forest Gate next season. They're neck-and-neck with NW London in the title race so it's essential they win here. Given the small capacity, you must have a ticket in advance and alcohol will not be allowed pitchside so don't bring any
Sporting Hackney v Indian Gymkhana Club @1130am - I've highlighted this simply because of the early kick off which makes a rare 'Groundhop Triple' possible on Saturday. The match is being played at Barking's ground and can be combined with a vast array of 3pm games before the Anagram Final at 745pm


Sunday 24 April

Premier League
Chelsea v West Ham United @2pm - the Blues' run of big games continues with this important derby against a Hammers side chasing a European place. On Sunday, Chelsea sealed another FA Cup Final appearance by beating Crystal Palace and if they beat Arsenal on Wednesday then third will be pretty much be theirs. West Ham, on the other hand, could only manage a disappointing draw with Burnley at the weekend to slip to seventh. They've played more games than all those around them so they'll need to try and get something here or a further slip to eighth looms. Tickets are not available

FA Women's Super League
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea @230pm - as we move into the last few games of the season, Spurs can have a huge say in who wins the title as they have to play both of the top clubs. First up they take on current leaders Chelsea who are a point clear of Arsenal. With the Gunners playing at lowly Everton, they'll almost certainly be top on Sunday night if Spurs do them a favour here but how likely is that???

FA Women's Championship
Crystal Palace v Watford @2pm - with Liverpool having already won the title, the rest of the top six are all still in with a chance of finishing second. Palace are among that pack whilst Watford are second bottom and still looking for a win to keep them up

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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