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Match Preview :- Harrogate Town - Saturday February 9th, 2008 (15:00:00)
After a disappointing home game, Celtic will be back on the road on Saturday when we travel to Harrogate Town. Celtic have won their last six away matches, and we need to add to that in order to regain our place in the play offs. However, Harrogate will have something to say about that, and are currently third in the league, three places, and five points ahead of us.

Both Southport (fourth) and last week?s winners at Bower Fold, Nuneaton (fifth) are within three points of Celtic, so a good result is vital to stop the gap getting to big, or to take advantage of any slip ups by them (Southport play away at Blyth, and Nuneaton away at Burscough).

Harrogate?s home form certainly has been nothing to write home about, and they have not won at home since December 1st, when they beat Redditch. However, they have only played two games at home this year (with four away games)! Their last home match was against Burscough who came away 1-0 winners, whilst the other game was a 2-2 draw against Barrow. After an early season stormer for Harrogate, they won eleven out of their opening thirteen games, and drew the other two, a suite of results that propelled them to the top of the league, but in their last fourteen games, Harrogate have been having a bit of a wobble, but not enough to see them leave the top five, and a last minute winner from Mark Hume away at Hucknall saw them return to third.

We have already played Harrogate this season, when they came to Bower Fold and lost 3-2, with another last minute goal from ex-Celtic player Mark Hume making the score-line look more respectable. Our last visit to Wetherby Road was last season, when we secured a tense 0-0 draw. That was an improvement on our previous four visits, though, as we have never won at Harrogate?s place, losing the previous four visits there. Indeed, we have only had one game where we have scored at Wetherby Road, drawing a blank on four occasions.

Harrogate?s top scorer this season is Mark Hume, who has scored eleven goals, the goal against Hucknall being all that separates him from Danny Holland, Harrogate?s more usual top scorer. Harrogate have scored a total of forty-one goals this season, twelve less than Celtic. What has got them into their play-off spot is their defence, which is the fourth best in the league having conceded just twenty-eight goals, with Nuneaton, Telford and Kettering joint top on just twenty-four goals. Celtic by comparison have conceded thirty-six. Harrogate?s averages this season are 1.5 goals scored per game, and just 0.8 goals conceded at home (1 goal per game overall). Their first goal comes around the 38 minute mark, with their first concession coming around the 41 minute mark. They have no identifiable vulnerable periods, but are definitely dangerous at the end of the match, with nine goals in the last five minutes.

Harrogate will be without the services of Danny Holland for the Celtic match on Saturday, due to an accumulation of five bookings, whilst Roy Hunter suffered a hamstring strain in their win over Hucknall Town, and will require a fitness check ahead of the match.

In that 1-0 win over Hucknall, Harrogate lined up as:
1. Jon McLaughlin
2. Jamie Price
3. Nathan Peat
4. Denny Ingram
5. Mark Hume
6. Darren Dunning
7. Roy Hunter
8. Lee Whittington
9. Tony Hackworth
10. Danny Holland
11. Dave Merris

Celtic will be able to welcome back Ashley Winn after his two game ban, whilst Barrie Keeling and Steve Payne will both have to be assessed ahead of the match. In Celtic?s last match, the 2-0 loss at home to Nuneaton, we lined up as:
1. Paddy Gamble
2. Ashley Woolliscroft
3. Andy Smart
4. Garry Burke
5. Simon Garner
6. Paul Sykes
7. James Dean
8. Terry Barwick
9. Chris Hall
10. Matty Barlow
11. Alex Meechan

Celtic?s away form is so good that the automated prediction algorithm is predicting a 3-1 win for Celtic, which is a tall ask considering Harrogate?s strong defensive record at home (just eleven goals, joint top in the league), and also looking back over the number of games Celtic have failed to score at Wetherby Road. However, this Celtic team is capable of pulling off such a result, and bringing us to within two points of Harrogate, keeping us in touch with play-off spots.
Distance: 68
Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Head up the M60 towards Oldham.
At junction 18 join the M62 towards Leeds.
After 35 miles you will reach junction 29 (M1).
Join the M1 going north.
Stay on the M1 for 7 miles to the end where it joins the A1 going north.
Stay on the A1 for 5 miles to the junction with the A661 (Wetherby).
At the roundabout at the end of the slip road go straight across (exit 2 of 4) to stay on the A661.
After 400 yards there is a set of lights.
Turn left here to stay on the A661 (signposted Harrogate).
The road is called Market Place.
After approximately 6 miles there is a roundabout with the A658.
Go straight across (exit 2 of 4) to stay on the A661.
After a further 2 miles, the ground is on the right, just after a pedestrian crossing.
Parking is available on Lancaster Park Road just past the ground on the right.

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