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February 13th, 2008 - Alfreton Town
 

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 Celtic have one last home match, before a trio of three long away matches, when Alfreton Town come to Bower Fold (kick off 3pm) to seek revenge for the 4-3 win over them at the Impact Arena back in January. Alfreton are currently twelfth in the league, six places and twelve points behind Celtic.

After a rocky start to the season saw Alfreton pick up ten points from a possible thirty, they then went on a six game unbeaten run to climb the table to their highest placing this season of ninth. Of late they have been on a bit of a wobble; despite beating Hyde 2-0 at Hyde, and Hucknall at home they have gained just ten points out of their last ten matches, losing their most recent match away at Hinckley, 1-0, thanks to an own goal in the first minute. They have not scored now for two matches, though their last home match did see them draw 0-0 with Barrow. Good results against Harrogate, Hyde and Kettering show that Alfreton can surprise any team in this league, and should not be underestimated. In addition, Alfreton are the current league holders of the most number of consecutive games scored in (fifteen) and the most consecutive clean sheets (4).

We met Alfreton earlier in the season when Chris Hall bagged a personal haul of four goals to take the three points after Alfreton had come back from being 3-1 down. Alfreton?s last win at Bower Fold was back at the start of the 04/05 season, a season they took all six points off us, but since then Celtic have won four and drawn one of the encounters.

This season, Alfreton?s top scorer is Brian Cusworth with eight goals, closely followed by Danny Reet on seven. They have scored an average of 1.2 goals per game away from home (1.3 overall), and conceded 1.3 (1.4 overall). They score their first goal on average at the forty-eight minute mark, and concede on twenty-four minutes. Of their thirty-nine goals, eleven have come around the half hour mark, making this their most dangerous period, whilst they have conceded twelve of their forty-one goals in their opening fifteen minutes, making them vulnerable right from the off. Alfreton have kept seven clean sheets this season, four of them away from home, whilst they have failed to score in five games, with three away from home.

Alfreton recently signed Goalkeeper Laurence Matthewson from Worksop town, though he is meant for cover for Kyle Sutcliffe. Club captain Tony Butler also made it through 90 minutes for Alfreton in their last match, the 1-0 away loss at Hinckley. In that match, Alfreton lined up as:
1. Kyle Sutcliffe
2. Kyle McFadzean
3. Mark Barnard
4. Laurie Wilson
5. Tony Butler
6. Matt Wilson
7. Josh Law
8. Stephen Warne
9. Paul Clayton
10. Danny Reet
11. Anton Brown

Steve Payne is still a couple of weeks away from playing, whilst Barrie Keeling is set for an imminent return. Alex Meechan picked up a knock against Harrogate, and sat out the Southport match as a precaution, he could well be in contention for Alfreton, though Carlos Roca staked a claim for the left wing spot with his sensational goal. This will be James Dean?s last match for Celtic, with his loan period ending and his return to Bury imminent. In Celtic?s last match, the 2-2 home draw with Southport, Paul Sykes picked up his tenth booking of the season, and will miss the trips to Hucknall and Hinckley, but will be available for this match against Alfreton. In that match, Celtic lined up as:
1. Paddy Gamble
2. Ashley Woolliscroft
3. Andy Smart
4. Garry Burke
5. Ashley Winn
6. Paul Sykes
7. Lee Ellington
8. Terry Barwick
9. Chris Hall
10. Matty Barlow
11. Carlos Roca

Celtic have already beaten Alfreton this season, and the Automated Prediction Algorithm has suggested we will do so again, this time with a smaller score-line of 2-1. With Nuneaton away at Southport, one or both will drop points in that match, meaning that the play-off spots are still not out of reach, but we will have to be at our best against an inconsistent but constantly surprising Alfreton outfit.

Author: Iain Benson