Celtic are back to league action on Saturday when we travel down the M6 to Stafford Rangers for the Conference North fixture (kick off 3pm), looking to bounce back from their exit from the FA Cup. Stafford are currently sixteenth on twelve points, nine points and eleven places behind Celtic in the league table. Brian is running a coach to this game, and there will be a live match centre.
Stafford have won just once at home this season, beating Workington 2-0, with their other two wins coming on the road at Harrogate and Redditch. Their other three points have come from draws with Eastwood and Farsley at home, and Vauxhall away. At home they have lost to Corby Town, Solihull Moors and most recently Hinckley United who beat them 3-2 in their last match. In the FA Cup, Stafford were like ourselves, holding a lower league side (Coventry Sphinx) to a draw away, and then losing the replay on Tuesday night (3-2). The difference being, that they went out in the round before us, the second qualifying. Their biggest defeat of the season came when they visited Droylsden and lost 7-1.
Their top goal scorer this season is Nick Wellecomm, who has scored seven of their twenty-two goals this season, with his nearest rival, Bobby Wilson four goals behind on three. In total they have scored eleven times at home this season, exactly half of their total goals. Most of their goals have come in the first half, with nine coming in the middle period of the half, making this their most dangerous period. They have conceded thirteen of their twenty-nine goals at home, split almost half and half between the two halves. Their most vulnerable period is the opening twenty-five minutes, when they have conceded nine. On average they score 1.8 goals per game, whilst conceding 2.2 at home and 2.4 overall. They have kept one clean sheet (at home to Workington) and scored in all but two games, only failing to score in one game at home (to Corby Town).
Our last meeting was on Valentine?s Day last season, when we came away with a 1-0 win. That was our first win in Stafford in seven attempts, with Stafford winning the previous three matches there. We did the double over them last season, beating them at home also, with a 2-0 score line. The Automated Prediction Algorithm thinks that Celtic will get back on the winning streak with a 4-2 win, continuing a good vein of goal scoring.
Stafford will be without fullback Jermaine Johnson, who is serving a one match ban for a sending off in their FA Cup replay against Coventry Sphinx. In Stafford?s last match, the 3-2 defeat at home to Hinckley United, Stafford lined up as:
1. Will Lumley
2. Jermaine Johnson
3. Jon Patrick
4. Tom Thorley
5. Bobby Wilson
6. Andy Owens
7. Fabrice Kasiama
8. Levi Reid
9. Ben Mills
10. Nick Wellecomme
11. Luke Morgan
Celtic are almost back up to full strength, with Barrie Keeling the only absentee. In our last match, the 1-0 home defeat to FC United of Manchester that saw us exit the FA Cup, we lined up as:
1. Paul Phillips
2. Richard Battersby
3. Graeme Law
4. Steve Woods
5. Warren Peyton
6. John Hardiker
7. Dave Hankin
8. Keith Briggs
9. Joe O?Neill
10. Matty Barlow
11. Connor Jennings
Celtic are currently one point behind second placed Southport, and four behind first placed Droylsden (who have played a game more), whilst there are four teams within three points of us lower in the table, waiting for us to make a slip-up. A win could see us go second, whilst a defeat could see us drop to ninth.
Other games in the Conference North on Saturday:
AFC Telford United (16pts, 10th) v Southport (22pts, 2nd)
Blyth Spartans (15pts, 11th) v Hinckley United (20pts, 7th)
Droylsden (25pts, 1st) v Workington (13pts, 14th)
Gainsborough Trinity (11pts, 17th) v Solihull Moors (11pts, 18th)
Gloucester City (12pts, 15th) v Fleetwood Town (21pts, 4th)
Harrogate Town (11pts, 19th) v Alfreton Town (18pts, 9th)
Hyde United (15pts, 12th) v Corby Town (21pts, 6th)
Ilkeston Town (20pts, 8th) v Northwich Victoria (13pts, 13th)
Redditch United (10pts, 20th) v Farsley Celtic (6pts, 22nd)
Vauxhall Motors (9pts, 21st) v Eastwood Town (22pts, 3rd)