Celtic kick off their 16/17 campaign with a trip across to the East Coast to face Boston United, the team that thrashed us in our final game of last season to secure a play-off spot for themselves.
Boston finished last season in fifth place, pushing Nuneaton down into sixth by one point, although Nuneaton had three points deducted for fielding an ineligible player. Boston finished with seventy-one points, seven places and eighteen points ahead of Celtic who finished in twelfth. Boston's top scorer last season was Dayle Southwell, who grabbed twenty-one goals last season, with Carl Piergianni the second highest, some dozen goals behind with nine. At home, Boston were scoring 1.8 goals per game and conceding 1.3. They lost six times, including a 3-0 defeat by Celtic. They also lost to Fylde the team that beat them in the play-offs. Boston finished last season strongly, unbeaten in six, with five wins and one draw.
Boston have replaced virtually the entire squad ahead of the new campaign with the hope of going one better than last season. Their most recent signings are defender Ollie Price, striker Gregg Smith and wingers Marcus Marshall and Liam Adams.
Celtic's last meeting with Boston was at the end of last season, when they won 5-0, getting revenge for the reverse fixture back in February when Chris Simm, Dale Wright and Steve Tames all netted to record a 3-0 win (our first at that stadium). Boston's last win over Celtic at the Jakeman stadium was three seasons ago, when they won 4-1 in April 2014. In the other two of our last four visits, Celtic have had two draws, a 1-1 in August 2014, with Liam Dickinson scoring, and a 2-2 in February 2013 with goals from Chris Hall and Corey Gregory.
Gregg Smith is suspended for the match, and doubts remain over the fitness of Shane Clarke, Nathan Brown and Cameron Johnson. Boston are already out of their local county cup, losing 1-0 to Spalding United, though it's unlikely they will view this as a great loss. Boston also narrowly lost their last friendly against Gateshead, the game finishing 3-2. The starting eleven for friendlies are rarely the starting eleven, but in that game against Gateshead, Boston lined up as:
1. Christian Dibble
3. Joe Maguire
4. Herve Pepe-Ngoma
5. Courtney Wildin
6. Marcus Marshall
7. Callum Chippendale
8. Lewis Hilliard
9. Jason St Juste
10. Lamin Colley
11. Gregg Smith.
Celtic beat a strong Accrington side and a strong Barrow side in pre-season, the starting eleven against Barrow was:
1. Tony McMillan
2. Pete Wylie
3. Aaron Walters
4. Matty Hughes
5. John Shaw
6. Kristian Platt
7. Jimmy Ball
8. Liam Hynes
9. Adam Farrell
11. Henoc Mukendi
Boston have virtually rebuilt last year's squad, and it will take some time for the new team to gel, so this could be a very good time to be playing one of the favourites for the league title. Traditionally, Boston have started their league campaigns strongly though, so there's no doubt about it, this is a very tough opening fixture.
Go via the Woodhead pass to the M1 and join the M1 heading South.
Stay on the M1 for 13 miles to Junction 31 (Worksop, A57).
At the roundabout turn left (exit 1 of 4) onto the A57 towards Worksop.
Stay on the A57 for thirteen miles to a roundabout with the A1.
Go straight across (exit 2 of 4) onto the A1.
Stay on the A1 for 19 miles to a roundabout with the A17.
Stay on the A17 for 33 miles to a junction with the A1121, exit here.
Stay on the A1121 for 5 miles where it merges with the A52 (Sleafort Road).
After an additional 2 miles there is a roundabout with the A16, turn left here (exit 1 of 3) onto the A16 (John Adams Way).
After less than a mile down the dual carriageway, turn right at the lights onto Main Ridge Road, and take the first left onto York Street.
The club is on the left.