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Match Preview :- Kettering Town - Saturday August 11th, 2007 (15:00:00)
The season opener at Bower Fold is the same as the season closer at Bower Fold last season when Kettering Town are the visitors (3pm kickoff). Kettering only narrowly missed out on promotion last season, after narrowly missing out on the championship thanks to the 0-0 draw at Bower Fold in the penultimate game.

Both teams have seen a large number of changes to both the playing and backroom staff and this will be two virtually new teams than those that fought out the goalless draw at the end of the season. Both teams went on to lose their final games, Celtic against Gainsborough, and Kettering against Alfreton. Kettering won their last pre-season match against Rothwell Town billed as the Newland's Trophy, unusually requesting that they play up Rothwell's slope in both halves in order to prepare for the match at Celtic on Saturday.

The biggest loss for Kettering in the close season was the departure of Rene Howe, who scored twenty-one league goals in just half a season. However, they have filled his boots with ex-league striker Mark Rawle who joined the Poppies from Alfreton Town, and thus will be coming up against ex-team mate Ashley Burbeary. Kettering have retained the services of midfielder Brett Solkhon, who was influential for them last season scoring eleven league goals, and have also decided to continue with the full time players that they began last season.

Previous meetings with the Poppies have seen a very even spread of results over the past fifteen years at Bower Fold whilst Kettering hold the edge at Rockingham Road. We met four times last season, twice in the league and twice in the Trophy. Both games at Bower Fold ended in draws, whilst visits to Rockingham Road saw the hosts win both games. Kettering's last win at the Fold was back in 2005 when they were 2-1 winners, whilst Celtic last won in 2006 when we beat Kettering 2-0. Our best result against them was back in 1996 when we met in the Conference National, and won the game 6-1 at Rockingham Road.

Last season saw Kettering finish in second place with 73 points, just five behind Droylsden. They lost only nine games, and scored 75 goals, conceding 58. They had an average goal scoring record of 1.8 goals per game overall (1.6 away), conceding 1.4 per game (1.5 overall). They kept four clean sheets on the road, and failed to score in just three away games. Celtic, in contrast, finished two places and four points above the drop zone, just one point clear of nineteenth placed Redditch. Whilst we scored sixty-four goals (seventh highest), we conceded eighty-one goals (second worst) giving us a ratio of 1.5 goals scored (1.8 at home) to 1.9 goals conceded (2.1 at home).

In their last match, the 1-0 pre-season win over Rothwell, Kettering lined up as:

  1. Nick Bussey
  2. John Dempster
  3. Tom Kemp
  4. Luke Graham
  5. Tommy Jaszczun
  6. John Brady
  7. Brett Solkhon
  8. Darren Caskey
  9. Andy Hall
  10. Mark Rawle
  11. Jean-Paul Marna
In Celtic's last pre-season friendly, the 4-1 win over Blackburn Rovers reserves, Celtic lined up as:

  1. Paddy Gamble
  2. Steve Payne
  3. Andy Smart
  4. Paul Sykes
  5. Terry Barwick
  6. James Dudgeon
  7. Ashley Burbeary
  8. Ashley Winn
  9. Chris Hall
  10. Matty Barlow
  11. Lee Ellington
Both sides made significant substitutions in their matches and the results count for nothing. The real business starts on Saturday.
Match Sponsor
Brother UK
Ball Sponsor
Jim Fitzpatrick
Man of the Match Sponsor
Sue and Kevin Bowers
Programme Sponsor
Holy Trinity
Main club sponsor
Dream Bi-Folding Doors Official Shirt Sponsors of Stalybridge Celtic
Warm-up Kit Sponsor
Mulgrew Haulage - Official Warm-up Kit Sponsors of Stalybridge Celtic
Site Sponsor
MG Domestic - Official Site Sponsors of Stalybridge Celtic
Hospitality Providers
Bower Fold Events - hospitality providers