Saturday sees Celtic take a foray up the M6 to Lancaster to face a lot of old faces in Phil Wilson?s Lancaster City side (3pm kick-off). Lancaster are currently fifteenth in the league, a mere eleven points behind Celtic. There is a great deal at stake though, with Bradford playing at Runcorn, Celtic have a chance to get out of the relegation zone with a win, should Bradford also win.
Lancaster have lost their last two games, against Bradford and Nuneaton, without scoring a goal in either game. However, they did win their last home game, beating on form Kettering Town by a single goal from ex-Celt Steve Jones. Prior to this, they have had an away draw at Southport, and wins against Moor Green and Worksop Town. The last team to beat them at the Giant Axe was Worcester a month ago, with a 2-0 win.
Goal scoring has been Lancaster?s main problem recently, with only four goals in ten games. Their defence, though it has let in nine goals in the same period, is generally good with five clean sheets. Their lack of goals is somewhat surprising, given that in Peter Thompson (10) and Ryan Zico-Black (9), they have two of the league?s top strikers (joint sixth and joint ninth respectively).
Most of Lancaster?s conceding is done in the first half; indeed, the opening ten minutes have been profitable for Lancaster?s opposition, with seven goals in this period. They are also vulnerable around the hour mark. For goal scoring, it is the second half you have to see. With only eleven of their forty goals coming in the first half, they are certainly a second half team. The hour mark has seen them net nine goals, while the last ten minutes has seen them bag ten. At home, their average goals scored per game is 1.1, whilst they concede only 1.
They have taken six points off both Kettering and Moor Green this season, but with an earlier draw at Bower Fold, we will not be adding to that tally. Both Worcester and Bradford have taken all six points off Lancaster, proving that they can be beaten if the opposition has enough desire.
Given our unbeaten run of nine league games, and eleven cup and league games, there is no question that the desire is present in the squad. Add in the incentive of leaving the relegation zone ahead of the game against Runcorn, and there should be plenty of willingness to win.
Jamie Speare has been released to join Southport - but will still be playing for Lancaster until the 28th of March, when they face Ashton. How this will affect his performance is unknown; hopefully, it will be detrimental.
Against Nuneaton, Lancaster started with:
1. Jamie Speare
2. Martin Clarke
3. Andy Scott
4. Paul Sparrow
5. John McMahon
6. Steve Hollis
7. Gary Bauress (who got sent off)
8. Brian Mogan
9. Peter Thomson
10. Ryan Zico-Black
11. Tony Sullivan
Celtic lined up against Worcester, our last game, and our last win, as:
1. Craig Dootson
2. Grant Black
3. Danny Caldecott
4. Barrie Keeling
5. Paul Sykes
6. Paul Shepherd
7. Steve Smith
8. Scott Bonsall
9. Andy Parton
10. Aron Wilford
11. Chris Denham
With no injury or suspension worries, Celtic have everything in place for a fantastic victory to set them up for their game on Good Friday against Runcorn ? the Relegation crunch match. History is going to have to be overturned though, with only one Celtic win in Celtic?s last six years worth of meetings at the Giant Axe. The automated prediction is in our favour though ? predicting a 3-0 victory for Celtic!