On Saturday, Celtic travel to a new ground when we visit Atherton Collieries. Atherton are currently nineteenth in the table on twenty-two points, fifteen points and fourteen places below fifth placed Celtic, though they have played five games fewer.
Although they won twice on their travels, it wasn't until the end of November that they finally got a second home win, when they beat Bamber Bridge 4-1 after beating Nantwich at the end of August 3-1. Since then, they have played twice more at home and won both, beating Hyde 2-1 and Lancaster City 2-1. The win over Lancaster was a double over the Lancashire outfit, something they will be aiming to do over us, after already beating us once this season. In their last six games, they have lost only once, away at Radcliffe, winning three and drawing two, most recently a 1-1 draw away at Warrington.
With thirty goals, they are mid-table in terms of attack and with thirty-four conceded they are mid-table defensively. The lack of games has somewhat put them in a false position. Only Morpeth and Whitby have played fewer. Tom Bentham is leading the pack for their scoring chart, his nine goals more than the next three combined. On average they score two goals per game at home and 1.4 overall. Although they have never kept a clean sheet at home, they have never failed to score either (they have failed to score five times on the road). Their defence concede two goals per game at home, and 1.8 overall.
We've never visited Atherton, but earlier this season they visited us, a pre-Darius Osei Celtic pulling one back in the second half after Bentham had put them into an early lead Celtic never recovered from.
Atherton's last match was a 2-0 away defeat to Barrow in the FA Trophy. In that match they lined up as:
1. Paddy Wharton
2. Clive Smith
3. Gareth Peet
4. Josh Thompson
5. Danny Laffety
6. Niall Battersby
7. Ben Conway
8. John Welsh
9. Tom Bentham
10. Vinny Bailey
11. Danny Lambert
Only Basford are within three points of Celtic, so a win could make us fourth, if Basford lose at home to Bamber Bridge. Nantwich (away at Scarborough), Radcliffe and Warrington (who play each other) are all within three points of Celtic, so a loss could see us tumble to seventh.
|Home win||Bamber Bridge||4-1||Sat 30th Nov|
|Away win||Gainsborough Trinity||0-2||Sat 12th Oct|
|Home defeat||Basford United||1-3||Sat 2nd Nov|
|Away defeat||Morpeth Town||3-0||Tue 15th Oct|
|Home score||Warrington Town||2-4||Tue 20th Aug|
|Away score||Ashton United||2-2||Sat 17th Aug|