Celtic are away again this weekend, looking to recapture the top spot in the league when we travel to Hinckley United for the Conference North clash on Saturday (kick off 3pm). Hinckley are currently ninth in the table, six places and seven points behind Celtic, with a game in hand. Brian is running a coach to this match, and there will be a live match centre.
Hinckley had a poor start to the season winning one out of their opening six and two out of their opening nine matches, but a thumping 5-1 home win over Redditch saw them go on a six game unbeaten streak, ending with a 6-1 thumping away at Blyth in their most recent league game (their most recent game was a 2-1 win at home over Histon in the FA Cup). They have been beaten just once at home this season, by Hyde United in their second home match back in August, and have beaten Ilkeston (1-0) and Farsley (4-1) as well as Redditch. Droylsden and Vauxhall have both held them to 1-1 draws. Away from home, they have beaten Stafford and Workington, and held Corby, Southport and Telford to draws, losing only to Eastwood and Blyth.
Our record in Hinckley is a good one, with Hinckley winning none of our previous six visits, and Celtic winning four, and drawing two. We have beaten them four times out of the last four matches, two at home and two at Hinckley, with our last meeting at Bower Fold last season seeing us win 7-1. Our last visit there was a more modest 1-0 win. Our best result was the season before when we came away 3-0 winners. The only time Hinckley have beaten us was back in January 2005, when they won 2-0 at Bower Fold, with three draws and two wins for Celtic since then.
Hinckley?s top scorer is Adam Webster, one of the handful of players to have scored in every Conference North season since its inception. He and Matt West both have five goals this season, with Neil Cartwright and Richard Lavery just behind them on three each. With six of their twenty-two goals coming just after the half hour mark, this is their most dangerous period. With no goals scored and seven of their nineteen conceded goals coming in the last fifteen minutes, this is their most vulnerable period. Hinckley have scored in every home game this season, and kept one clean sheet at home (against Ilkeston). Prior to losing to Blyth 6-1, Hinckley had the best defence in the league, having conceded just thirteen in their opening twelve games. On average Hinckley score 2.2 goals per game at home (1.7 overall) whilst conceding just a goal per game at home (1.5 overall).
Given the previous meetings and the fact that Celtic are now unbeaten in ten league games with seven wins, and four wins out of the last four, the automated prediction algorithm has suggested a 3-1 win for Celtic. Celtic are currently the inform team, having taken eighty-two percent of the points available in the last ten games, with Hinckley having taken forty-nine percent over the same period.
Hinckley will be without James Mace for the match on Saturday, due to him serving a suspension. In their last league match, the 2-1 home win over Histon in the FA Cup, Hinckley lined up as:
1. Chris MacKenzie
2. Dan Dillon
3. Stuart Giddings
4. Richard Lavery
5. Lee Collins
6. Connor Franklin
7. Andy Hall
8. Andy Gooding
9. Adam Webster
10. Chukki Eribenne
11. Neil Cartwright
Celtic played their last match without Dave Hankin due to a slight injury, and Connor Jennings, with the youngster rested; but still beat Gainsborough away, 3-1. In that match, Celtic lined up as:
1. Paul Phillips
2. Richard Battersby
3. Graeme Law
4. Steve Woods
5. Warren Peyton
6. John Hardiker
7. Paul Ennis
8. Keith Briggs
9. Joe O?Neill
10. Matty Barlow
11. Craig Hobson
With Celtic only a point off Southport and Eastwood occupying the top two spots, a win could propel Celtic back to the top of the table (only if Southport and Eastwood get a draw, as they play each other), a position we held for three days. A loss could see us drop out of the top five altogether with four teams within striking distance of us.
Other games on Saturday are:
AFC Telford United (16pts, 12th) v Workington (17pts, 11th)
Blyth Spartans (18pts, 10th) v Ilkeston Town (21pts, 8th)
Droylsden (25pts, 5th) v Solihull Moors (15pts, 13th)
Farsley Celtic (13pts, 17th) v Corby Town (27pts, 4th)
Fleetwood Town (24pts, 7th) v Alfreton Town (24pts, 6th)
Gainsborough Trinity (12pts, 19th) v Gloucester City (12pts, 18th)
Hyde United (15pts, 15th) v Vauxhall Motors (12pts, 20th)
Redditch United (10pts, 22nd) v Harrogate Town (11pts, 21st)
Southport (28pts, 1st) v Eastwood Town (28pts, 2nd)
Stafford Rangers (15pts, 14th) v Northwich Victoria (14pts, 16th)