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Match Preview :- Hinckley United - Tuesday April 3rd, 2007 (19:45:00)
Tuesday night sees the return of Hinckley United with a 7:45pm kick off. Hinckley are looking to cement their spot in the play off places, where they currently sit in fifth. They are fourteen points and twelve places ahead of Celtic, despite having played a game less than ourselves.

Hinckley won their last game away at Alfreton Town to go into the play-off spots. Hinckley have had a fair few away games with other top of the table teams, losing to Harrogate at Droylsden, but beating Farsley and drawing with Workington. This has followed on from wins away at Hucknall and Leigh. Hinckley have a good away record of late, and have won six of the last ten, drawing one and losing two.

This is the fourth time we have met them this season, beating them twice at the Marston Stadium, once in the league and once in the FA Trophy. The Trophy match was a replay from Hinckley?s earlier visit to Bower Fold where they secured a 2-2 draw. Previous seasons have seen them never lose at Bower Fold, winning their first Conference North visit 2-0 back in 2005, and drawing the next. Out of all the meetings so far, the home team has never won! The automated prediction algorithm doesn?t see that changing, either, with a prediction of 3-2 for the away team again.

Their only striker in the top league goal scorers is Carl Heggs, despite having only seven goals for Hinckley, added to the three he scored for Redditch, he just creeps in at joint twenty-third. The top scorers for Hinckley are ex-Celt Leon Kelly, and Neil Cartwright, both of whom have eight goals. Fifteen different players have scored for Hinckley, which is why they have still managed to score fifty-four goals this season. On average, they score 1.4 goals per game away from home (1.5 overall), whilst conceding 1.3 goals per game both home and away. Hinckley don?t concede many, with the first fifteen minutes seeing eight of their forty-six conceded goals scored against them. Scoring though, isn?t a problem and their most dangerous period is just before half time when they have scored eight goals, and they have another eight in the last five minutes of a match.

They have kept five clean sheets this season, with four of them away from home, two of which were in their last three away matches, where they shut out both Farsley and Alfreton. They have done the double over Farsley now, along with Leigh, Moor Green and Redditch. Only Harrogate have managed to do the double over them, and only ourselves and Hyde United remain that can do the double over them, though Hyde will have to do so at the Marston Stadium, after beating them back in October.

Celtic are currently on a thirty-four game conceding streak, twenty-nine games in the league since we last kept a clean sheet (against Worksop at home). This has led to a goal difference fourteen goals in the red. With only Leigh in our vicinity on a higher goal difference this massive debt is as good as a win for teams like Redditch (-4) and Vauxhall (-5). We have the worst defensive record in the league after Lancaster (-71 goal difference, with ninety-five conceded goals). Fortunately, we have Lee Ellington, the league?s third top striker whose hat-trick on Saturday saw his league tally for the season reach twenty-three goals. This was Celtic?s first hat-trick of the season. We have won three of our last five home matches, with Barrow and Harrogate being the other two.

Hinckley do not appear to have any injury or suspension worries ahead of the match. In their 1-0 win away at Alfreton, Hinckley lined up as:
1. Sean Bowles
2. Owen Storer
3. Sam Shilton
4. James Sherlock
5. Michael Love
6. Tony Butler
7. Neil Cartwright
8. Chris Nurse
9. Colin Marrison
10. Leon Kelly
11. Alex Johnson

Celtic will be without Mark Hume, who is serving the second of his two match ban for picking up ten yellow cards. Mark will be starting a three match ban at the Blyth match, for the sending off at Hucknall, leaving him with just two matches left this season. Celtic will also be without Barrie Keeling, who fractured his cheekbone last Saturday, whilst Dominic Krief missed out on the Lancaster match through injury. In that match, the 3-1 win over Lancaster, we lined up as:
1. Simon Bishop
2. Grant Black
3. Scott Maxfield
4. Tom Cowan
5. Chris Lever
6. Ashley Winn
7. Steve Brodie
8. James Olsen
9. Lee Ellington
10. Paul Sykes
11. Neil Prince

Celtic are currently five points clear of the drop zone, with Redditch and Vauxhall both between us and it. Leigh are currently occupying the third position and will also be playing on Tuesday night, against Lancaster, so a home win for our plucky opponents on Saturday would be a good thing for our survival hopes. A win for ourselves would lift us to fourteenth, and put five teams between us and the zone, with a more important eight points. With the expected cut off point this year at forty-eight points, we would be two points from safety. Hinckley are harbouring play-off hopes this year, and will provide a stern test. A loss for Hinckley wouldn?t be the end of that dream, as they do have games in hand, and even if Tuesday?s other game, Kettering hosting Farsley, goes the way of the visitors, Hinckley will remain in the play-off spots. If that game goes the way of Kettering, then the league table will have a new Champions Elect, as they could well take top spot from Droylsden, a position they have held since the turn of the year.
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