On Saturday, Celtic attempt to get back into their stride when Stafford Rangers come to the Fold for the Conference North match (kick off 3PM). Stafford are currently twelfth, five places and five points behind Celtic, despite having played a mammoth seven games more. There will be a live match centre for this game.
Stafford have won four of their last three games, beating Harrogate and Telford at home and Gainsborough away, though they did lose their last match at home to Southport. Prior to that little run of three games that lifted them six places up the table, they had been having quite a poor season with five wins in the previous twenty-three games. Stafford have not had a brilliant away record this season, beating Redditch, Harrogate and Ilkeston as well as Gainsborough away from home, with only Ilkeston being a ?top of the table? team.
Stafford?s top scorer this season has been Nick Wellecomm who has scored nine goals; the same as Joe O?Neill. It is not scoring which Stafford have a problem with, as they have scored in all bar three games, and all except one away game (the season opener against Hyde). Overall, they?ve scored forty-four goals, twenty-three of which were away. That?s an average of 1.6 goals per game (1.7 away), with their most dangerous period being the last twenty minutes of the first half, where they have scored twenty. It is defending that Stafford have struggled with this season, and they have the second worst defence in the league, just behind Vauxhall. Eighteen of their fifty-four conceded goals have come in the last fifteen minutes, and thirty-two of them away from home. They have not kept a clean sheet on the road this season, and have kept four overall.
Our previous meetings with Stafford have seen Stafford come out slightly on top. They have won three of their last six competitive visits to Bower Fold, with no draws. However, over the last three games, Celtic have gained the upper hand, and have won them all scoring five and conceding none in the process, including our last meeting, earlier at the season at Stafford, when we won 2-0. Stafford?s last win at Bower Fold was in November 2005, when they won 3-2.
Stafford have nobody suspended for the match, and have recently signed three new players, including loan signings Craig McAughtrie from Eastwood and Michael Burns from Carlisle. In their last match, the 2-1 defeat at home to Southport, Stafford lined up as:
1. Lee Evans
2. Andre Francis
3. Jon Patrick
4. Tom Thorley
5. Emmanuel Udoji
6. Craig McAughtrie
7. Levi Reid
8. Michael Burns
9. Nick Wellecomme
10. Warwick Alexander
11. Fabrice Kasiama
Matty Barlow?s suspension does not start until the 16th of February, but Michael Carr and John Hardiker will have to be assessed ahead of Saturday?s clash after picking up knocks. In our last match, the 1-0 home defeat to Blyth Spartans, 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. Keith Briggs
9. Joe O?Neill
10. Matty Barlow
11. Michael Carr
The automated prediction algorithm is suggesting a 2-2 draw for this match. Hopefully, Celtic can take the three points instead, and get their season back on track.
Other fixtures on Saturday:
Alfreton Town (40pts 5th) v Harrogate Town (16pts 21st)
Corby Town (35pts 8th) v Fleetwood Town (57pts 1st)
Droylsden (39pts 6th) v AFC Telford (35pts 9th)
Eastwood Town (44pts 4th) v Vauxhall Motors (15pts 22nd)
Farsley Celtic (28pts 14th) v Gloucester City (27pts 16th)
Gainsborough Trinity (18pts 20th) v Ilkeston Town (32pts 10th)
Hinckley United (44pts 3rd) v Northwich Victoria (28pts 13th)
Redditch United (27pts 17th) v Hyde United (19pts 19th)
Southport (54pts 2nd) v Blyth Spartans (30pts 11th)
Workington (28pts 15th) v Solihull Moors (23 pts 18th)