On Saturday (kick off 3pm), Celtic are at home to face South Shields. The North East outfit are currently top of the table, on fifty-one points, fourteen points and seven places above eighth placed Celtic, though they have played three games fewer.
Shields are level on points with second placed Basford and though they have scored two fewer, Basford have conceded eleven more. Shields also have two games in hand on Lancaster, so are looking good for automatic promotion. They've occupied the top spot since September, though a poor spell in October that saw them win two of their five games allowed the chasing pack to catch them. They've since dropped points in three games, which has been enough for Basford to now breath down their knock, whilst FC United and Lancaster are only six points away. Their last two away games were both wins, including beating play-off hopefuls, Lancaster. Their last loss on the road was Boxing Day when Whitby beat them 2-1. They hold the league record this season for the most consecutive wins, at eight, between the end of August and the start of October.
They have kept four clean sheets from ten away games, and failed to score only against Scarborough (which finished goalless). In total, they have scored forty-four goals, with only fifteen of these on the road, at a rate of 1.8 goals per game (1.5 away). They have conceded the fewest number of goals in the league, at 20, with only nine conceded on the road, at a rate of 0.8 goals per game (0.9 away). Jason Gilchrest and Robert Briggs are both on eight goals so far this season, vying for the golden boot, but with sixteen different scorers, goals have come from all over the pitch.
We've played Shields three times in the league and come close to drawing three times, losing out in the dying moments of each game. Their most recent visit was in the Trophy, where Shields eased through with a 2-0 score line after holding on to an early two goal lead. In their last league visit here, last season, they won 1-0 after knocking in a rebound.
Shield's last match was in the Integro Cup, which finished goalless, Shields going through on penalties. In that match they lined up as:
1. Myles Berry
2. Jordan Hunter
3. Kieran Charlton
4. Wouter Verstraaten
5. Dillon Moore
6. Gary Brown
7. Craig Baxter
8. Callum Ross
9. Sefton Gonzales
10. Josh Gillies
11. Lee Mason
In Celtic's last match, the 2-0 home defeat to Nantwich, Celtic lined up as:
1. Alex Fojtíček
2. Declan Walker
3. Kallum Mantack
4. Max Taylor
5. Stephen O'Halloran
6. Chris Smalley
7. Scott Bakkor
8. Patrick Lacey
9. Darius Osei
10. Adam O'Reilly
11. Ethan Walker
Jonathan Ustabasi and Craig Hobson are both doubts, whilst Neil Kengni, Nathan Valentine and Jack O'Leary are all out on loan. Celtic are looking to end a slump that started on Boxing Day and get back to winning ways. Only Witton (at home to Stafford) are within striking distance of Celtic, should we win, with the play-offs now six points away. Our five games without a win have allowed five teams to get within three points of Celtic, meaning a loss could see us drop to thirteenth! Mickleover (away at FC United), Radcliffe (away at Morpeth) and Hyde (away at Matlock) are all within a point, whilst Scarborough (at home to Ashton) are two points behind and Bamber Bridge (away at Nantwich) three points behind.
|Home win||Mickleover FC||5-2||Sat 11th Jan|
|Away win||Ashton United||0-2||Sat 4th Jan|
|Home defeat||Witton Albion||1-2||Sat 25th Jan|
|Away defeat||Witton Albion||3-1||Sat 12th Oct|
|Home score||Mickleover FC||5-2||Sat 11th Jan|
|Away score||Witton Albion||3-1||Sat 12th Oct|