On Tuesday night, weather permitting, Celtic will again try to host Ashton United after the washout that was Easter Monday. Ashton are currently fourth in the league on sixty-five points fifteen places and eleven points ahead of Celtic having played three games more. There will be a match centre and Twitter feed for this game.
Ashton have had a solid season, rising into the top five during an impressive twelve game unbeaten run from the end of October to the end of January, incidentally starting and ending the run with a draw over Shaw Lane. Their form has dipped of late, with three wins in their last ten, and their last six away matches seeing one win and one draw and four defeats. Their most recent away game was at Rushall, when they lost 4-2, with their last away win being over Stourbridge a fortnight ago. Their record for their last ten away games is lost three, won three and drawn four.
Ashton's top scorer this season is Matthew Chadwick, with sixteen, though Ashton have had eighteen different people on the score sheet this season, netting seventy goals, the third best attack in the league behind Altrincham and Grantham. They have been scoring at a rate of 1.8 goals per game over all and 1.9 goals per game on the road, they have only failed to score in three games away from home this season (and only once at home). They have conceded fifty-one goals this season, twenty-nine of them away from home. Ashton have kept four clean sheets away from Hurst Cross, whilst keeping six at Hurst Cross.
Over the years, we've met Ashton numerous times, but in the last thirty years, Ashton have been to Bower Fold six times. Their most recent visit was back in 2004 when they were in the Conference North. Celtic won that match 2-1, with goals from Phil Eastwood and Andy Heywood. Ashton's only win in those six visits was the year before, in the President's Cup, when they won 4-3 thanks to a Ross Clegg own goal that made it two apiece and put the game into extra time. In those six visits, Celtic have won four, Ashton one and there was a 1-1 draw back in 2003.
Ashton's last match was 1-1 home draw with Mickleover Sports. In that match, Ashton lined up as:
1. Dave Carnell
2. Dominic Smalley
3. Ryan Markhosini
4. Lewis Baines
5. Aaron Chalmers
6. Nicky Platt
7. Mark Lees
8. John Pritchard
9. Nic Evangelinos
10. Daniel Mooney
11. Jack Dyche
Celtic's last match was the 3-1 home defeat to Grantham, in that match, Celtic lined up as:
1. Aidan Winterbottom
2. Jack Taylor
3. Harrison Holgate
4. Danny Morton
5. Luke Ashworth
6. Ross Killock
7. Jake Charles
8. Alex Honeyball
9. Liam Dickinson
10. Matty Wolfenden
11. Connor Hughes
Ashton's Nic Evangelinos was stretchered off against Mickleover with concussion and will have to be evaluated ahead of the match, as will former Celt, Aaron Chalmers who may also be missing after pulling a hamstring. Marhosini and Dyche were both sent off in that match, but will still be eligible to play. Celtic may well be without Greg Wilkinson (thigh), Liam Dickinson (knee) and Harrison Holgate (calf), whilst there could be a debut for emergency loan goalkeeper George Sykes-Kenworthy.
Derbies are notoriously strongly contested affairs, with Celtic's paper-thin squad already stretched, we cannot afford injuries, but we are top of the form league, and more than capable of winning this match. As an example of how false Celtic's position is, should we be able to win our three games in hand on them, and beat them on Easter Monday, we would be above them. With Ashton playing on Monday, and Celtic having a rest, this is a good chance for Celtic to make up three points on Ashton. We can only rise one place with a win (and drop a possible three with a loss!), but we are closing the gap on the top half of the table.
Other games on Easter Monday:
Altrincham (77pts 1st) v Marine (42pts 21st)
Barwell (53pts 10th) v Coalville Town (43pts 20th)
Buxton (51pts 14th) v Matlock Town (42pts 22nd)
Farsley Celtic (61pts 5th) v Whitby Town (45pts 18th)
Grantham Town (67pts 3rd) v Shaw Lane (60pts 7th)
Hednesford Town (54pts 8th) v Rushall Olympic (52pts 12th)
Mickleover Sports (49pts 16th) v Halesowen Town (38pts 23rd)
Stourbridge (51pts 13th) v Stafford Rangers (53pts 11th)
Sutton Coldfield Town (29pts 24th) v Nantwich Town (50pts 15th)
Warrington Town (71pts 2nd) v Witton Albion (60pts 6th)
Workington (53pts 9th) v Lancaster City (49pts 17th)
|Home win||Halesowen Town||3-0||Sat 10th Mar|
|Away win||Lancaster City||0-3||Tue 13th Feb|
|Home defeat||Buxton||1-4||Mon 28th Aug|
|Away defeat||Rushall Olympic||4-2||Tue 27th Mar|
|Home score||Altrincham||3-3||Sat 24th Feb|
|Away score||Mickleover FC||2-5||Sat 7th Oct|