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Match Preview :- Woking - Wednesday April 27th, 2005 (19:45:00)
Wednesday will see Celtic take part in the first National Final of the GLS Conference Cup (kick off 7:45pm). Mossley were the last team to get to a national final, but they didn?t win ? so Celtic could become the first Tameside team to lift a national cup. Wednesday?s visitors, Woking, will obviously have something to say about that, and will be fielding a strong team now that they are officially not in the play-offs.

The Conference National is now over and Woking finished eighth. They won eighteen games, and drew fourteen, leaving them with sixty-eight points, four behind the last play-off spot. Their last game of the season was away from home at Scarborough, and they lost 2-0. Their last win in the last eight games was at home to already relegated Leigh RMI. After a poor start to the season, they slowly started to climb the table eventually reaching third, but they could not sustain the push, and fell away at the end.

They score an average of 1.4 goals per game away from home, and concede 1.6. Two thirds of their goals come in the second half, with twelve being banged in just after the half time restart. Defensively, they are very consistent right up to the final whistle, when they have conceded nine late goals. Their top scorer is Justin Richards with seventeen league and cup goals (joint tenth in the Conference top goal scorers), though Chris Sharpling is their top scorer in the GLS with three goals.

Celtic have got to this stage after beating Bradford, Lancaster, Halifax, Worksop and Accrington, scoring twelve goals and five penalties along the way while conceding five goals and four penalties. Woking, on the other hand have had two less games. They have beaten Sutton, Havant and Waterlooville, Forest Green Rovers, and Stevenage scoring twelve goals and four penalties, whilst conceding only five. Very similar records, though we?ve had two extra games.

It?s been a long season for both teams, but while Celtic still have the prospect of Redditch on Saturday to complete their fixtures, Woking have now finished all of their fixtures. Hopefully, this will work in Celtic?s favour as Woking might be in the post-season glow, while Celtic are still in the thick of it. Also the recent Conference North status securing may spur the team on with growing confidence, knowing that they can take pleasure in the game without worrying about the impact on League performance.

Woking have a couple of fitness worries, but nothing serious, and lined up in their away defeat at Halifax as:
1. Shwan Jalal
2. Simon Jackson
3. Jon Boardman
4. Luke Oliver
5. Gary MacDonald
6. Karl Murray
7. Ian Selley
8. Steve Evans
9. Liam Cockerill
10. Jefferson Louis
11. Chris Sharpling

Celtic cannot play Paul Shepherd, Grant Black and Scott Willis due to their being cup-tied, and Danny Caldecott is suffering from a dislocated shoulder picked up at Altrincham during one of their more exuberant challenges that went unpunished. Scott Bonsall?s also been suffering and will undergo a fitness test. Celtic may well recall Ben Smith and Kevin Parr to the starting line-up. In our magnificent victory over Hucknall Town on Monday, Celtic lined up as:

1. Craig Dootson
2. Grant Black
3. Tony Whealing
4. Barrie Keeling
5. Paul Sykes
6. Paul Shepherd
7. Steve Smith
8. Scott Willis
9. Andy Parton
10. Aron Wilford
11. Nathan Wharton

There is no reason that Celtic cannot win this trophy. It would cap a season that has had more ups and downs than Blackpool Pleasure beach on holiday at Alton Towers.
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