Celtic finally get back to league action on Saturday for the first time since the 8th of December when Hinckley United visit the Fold (Kick off 3pm). Hinckley are currently third in the Blue Square North table, sixteen points and five places ahead of Celtic having played five games more. There will be a Live Match Centre for this game.
Off the field problems at Hinckley has not stopped Dean Thomas from having a very good season so far with only four losses all season. Three of their losses have come away from home, their only home defeat at the hands of Hyde United early in the season. It was an indifferent start by Hinckley that saw them win just once in their opening six games, and drop to a season low of fourteenth. Since then, they have lost twice, and climbed into the play-off spots, with ten wins in sixteen games. Their away wins this season have come against bottom half teams, though they have earned draws at the top half teams. Only Eastwood, Blyth and Harrogate have beaten them on the road this season.
Their top goal scorer is Adam Webster, with eight goals, currently thirteenth in the goal scorers? league table. He has scored in every season of the Conference North. Hinckley are very solid in the first half, conceding just nine of their twenty-six goals. In addition, they are defensively stronger at home than away, conceding just eight goals at home compared to eighteen away. Though they concede more in the second half, they also score more, with just over half of their scoring done in this period. Their most dangerous period is just after the hour mark, when they have scored eleven of their thirty-seven goals. Their most vulnerable period is the last ten minutes, when eleven (nearly half) of their conceding is done. On average, they score 1.7 goals per game overall, with 1.4 per away game; concession wise, they concede an average of 1.2 goals per game overall, with 1.6 coming away.
Hinckley have a only lost twice at Bower Fold, and have drawn three times. Their last win here was in the first Blue Square season, almost exactly five years ago, when they beat us 2-0. Their last visit here last season saw them get thumped 7-1. The last meeting between the two sides was in Hinckley back in October, when Celtic drew 0-0 in Hinckley. In the form tale, they have taken sixty-two percent of the available points over the last ten games, with Celtic unbeaten in thirteen league games, and taking eighty-seven percent of the available points.
Adam Webster is currently receiving treatment for an ankle injury, whilst Chukki Eribenne is out with a damaged eye-socket and Richard Lavery is nursing a bad back, though they have no players out through suspension. In their last match, the 3-1 defeat away at Harrogate, Hinckley lined up as:
1. Chris MacKenzie
2. James Mace
3. Connor Franklin
4. Dan Dillon
5. Paul Lister
6. Lee Collins
7. Neil Cartwright
8. Andy Gooding
9. Matt West
10. Andy Hutchinson
11. Alex Taylor
Keith Briggs will be back in contention for Celtic on Saturday having served a one match suspension that has lasted since the 13th of December, making it a forty-one day one match suspension! Also back in contention is Barrie Keeling who has returned from his loan at Radcliffe and is raring to go. Matty Barlow and Connor Jennings sat out Saturday?s 2-1 defeat at home to Corby in the Trophy, and will be assessed ahead of the game on Saturday to see if they can take some part in the match. In that match, Celtic lined up as:
1. Dave Carnell
2. Graeme Law
3. Andy Smart
4. Steve Woods
5. Warren Peyton
6. John Hardiker
7. Dave Hankin
8. Richard Battersby
9. Joe O?Neill
10. Craig Hobson
11. Michael Carr
The automated prediction algorithm is suggesting a 3-2 win for Celtic, which could see us climb back into the play-off spots, and claw back some of the seventeen point lead that Fleetwood have on us in the table, though they have played a massive eight games more.
There should be a full fixture list for Saturday, with the weather set to stay kind. Other games on Saturday:
Corby Town (35pts 7th) v Solihull Moors (20pts 18th)
Droylsden (36pts 5th) v Gainsborough Trinity (18pts 19th)
Eastwood Town (40pts 4th) v Redditch United (24pts 16th)
Farsley Celtic (22pts 17th) v Northwich Victoria (25pts 12th)
Fleetwood Town (51pts 1st) v Blyth Spartans (24pts 13th)
Southport (48pts 2nd) v AFC Telford United (32pts 9th)
Stafford Rangers (27pts 11th) v Harrogate Town (16pts 21st)
Vauxhall Motors (13pts 22nd) v Alfreton Town (35pts 6th)
Workington (24pts 14th) v Gloucester City (24pts 15th)