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Match Preview :- Kettering Town - Saturday April 21st, 2007 (15:00:00)
Celtic?s final home match of the season takes place on Saturday (kick off 3pm) when Kettering roll into town. Kettering are currently second, hoping for two wins and a slip up by Droylsden to put them back to the top. They are fifteen places and twenty-four points ahead of Celtic having played the same number of games. No doubt they will be looking at the relevant positions of the two teams and counting on a banker.

Kettering are coming into the game on the back of a 3-1 away loss at play-off chasing Hinckley United. Prior to that, they had lost just once in seventeen games, at home to Workington. Out of their recent away games they have beaten the likes of Lancaster, Hyde and Worksop, scoring eight, conceding three and keeping two clean sheets. Part of their unbeaten run saw them record a series of five draws in six matches that saw them drop to fourth.

Previous meetings with Kettering include our historic 6-1 win over them back in 1996, but more recently, we have met three times this season: twice in the trophy and once in the league. Both matches at Rockingham Road went the way of Kettering, with Celtic unlucky in the league match. The initial trophy match finished in a draw, with an own goal from Luke Foster at the end of the first half cancelling out Steve Brodie?s initial goal. Their previous league visit to Bower Fold was at the end of last season, when Celtic won 2-0. Given the relevant fortunes of the two teams this season, the automated prediction algorithm is suggesting a 3-2 win for Kettering.

As would be expected of a team vying for automatic promotion, Kettering have one of the best front lines in the league, standing third behind Droylsden and Hyde. They have scored an average of 1.9 goals per game this campaign (1.7 away from home), whilst conceding 1.4 (1.6 away). They score roughly equally between the two halves, but with nineteen goals scored in the last quarter of an hour, this is their most dangerous period, with the period just before half time running it a close second with eighteen goals. They do not concede much in the first half, but from seventy minutes onward, they are especially vulnerable, with twenty-seven of their conceded fifty-seven goals going in. The main source of goals this season has been Rene Howe, who has notched up twenty goals, putting him fourth in the goal scorers chart, four goals behind Lee Ellington in third.

Kettering recently sacked manager Morell Maison, and are in the process of replacing him. An announcement to his successor is to be announced ahead of the Celtic game, with Kettering?s usual fanfare, no doubt. Previous managers have been Kevin Wilson and Paul Gascoigne. Kettering have no new injury worries ahead of the game, with Nathan Koo-Boothe now back in training after breaking his leg in Celtic?s last league clash with Kettering. He is unlikely to figure though, whilst Craig Mcilwain will definitely be absent as he is starting a two match ban for accumulated cautions. In their last match, the 3-1 defeat away at Hinckley, Kettering lined up as:
1. Mark Osborne
2. John Dempster
3. David Theobald
4. Craig Mcilwain
5. Luke Graham
6. Andy Hall
7. Darren Caskey
8. Andre Boucaud
9. Craig Westcarr
10. Rene Howe
11. Jean-Paul Marna

Mark Hume will be available for selection again after serving two separate bans totalling five matches. Also good news is that Mark Haran made it through ninety minutes at Scarborough, resulting in the first clean sheet for the Celts since he last played. Steve Smith is still months away from returning, whilst Dominic Krief is continuing his recuperation at Bradford Park Avenue, and Scott Maxfield didn?t feature in our last match. In Celtic?s last match, the important 1-0 win away at Scarborough, Celtic lined up as:
1. Simon Bishop
2. Grant Black
3. Jamie Kay
4. Chris Lever
5. Mark Haran
6. Ashley Winn
7. Steve Brodie
8. Paul Sykes
9. Lee Ellington
10. Matty Barlow
11. Kevin Parr

There is no denying that Kettering have built a very good team full of excellent footballers, but they have wobbled several times this season, and a good performance from Celtic could see us get the points on board that will mathematically ensure our survival. As it stands, if Redditch, Leigh and Worksop all win, and Celtic do not, we will be in the relegation zone. A point at least is vital leading into the last game of the season.
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