Celtic will attempt to play Southport at the second time of asking after the initial attempt saw the game abandoned with only a few minutes to go due to floodlight failure. Quite a lot has changed since the last time the two teams met. Southport were top at Christmas, but now sit second; they had been on an eleven game unbeaten streak, and have now won two of the last five games; and, of course, Celtic have a new manager. Kick-off is 7:45pm and there will be a live match centre for the game.
Southport are seventeen points and six places ahead of Celtic having played three games more, they are the only team in the league we cannot catch points wise. Southport can get a maximum of ninety-eight points to Celtic’s ninety, although if Celtic get ninety, it means Southport get ninety-five instead; Fleetwood might be top, but having played so many more games it means that if Celtic beat them twice, they would get ninety, the same as Celtic. Obviously, that is theoretical, as all three teams will drop points between now and the end of the season.
Southport’s season has been a very good one, and despite the wobble since the start of the year that has seen them pick up four wins from eight games, they are still sitting in a prime position to win the league. Their best and worst results have come against their rivals for the league, with a 5-0 home win over Fleetwood, and a 4-0 away defeat a few days later. They recently lost 4-1 to Hinckley, highlighting that their away form has dipped recently; their most recent away wins were at beleaguered Farsley, and cash-strapped Stafford. They have also drawn with Hyde and Corby (both 1-1), and as mentioned were beaten by Hinckley and Fleetwood.
Our last meeting that went to full time was back in August when we visited Haig Avenue and lost 2-1, continuing a run of four out of four wins for the Sandgrounders. Excluding the play-off semi-final that we won, the last time we beat Southport in the league was back in March 2008, when we beat them at Haig Avenue, whilst our last win over them at Bower Fold was ten league meetings ago back in September 2003. It is fair to say that Southport have a good record here, with five wins, and five draws in the last sixteen visits.
Southport’s top scorers this season are Ciaran Kilheeney on fifteen and Steve Daly on fourteen, with Chris Simm sitting some distance behind them on eight. Kilheeney is fourth in the overall goal scorers chart, whilst Daly is fifth, behind Adam Warlow of Fleetwood, Tony Gray of Droylsden and Paul Brayson of Blyth. Southport have the best goal per game ratio of any team in the league at 2.2 goals per game (1.7 away from home), but they have scored six goals less than Fleetwood, putting them second on the attackers chart; having conceded thirty-four goals, they are also second in the defensive chart, one place behind Workington’s impressive twenty-five. They concede an average of 1.1 goals per game overall and 1.3 away from home. Celtic are fifth in both charts. Southport’s most dangerous period is the last ten minutes, when they have scored twenty of their sixty-six goals this season. They have scored half of their goals this season in the last twenty minutes. Their most vulnerable period is either side of the interval, where they have conceded nine of their thirty-four goals. They have kept four clean sheets on the road (six overall), whilst they have failed to score just twice all season, once at home (Gainsborough) and once away (Fleetwood).
Southport may be without Alan Moogan and Kevin Lee for the match through injury, but are suspension free. In their last match, the 0-0 home draw against Gainsborough Trinity, Southport lined up as:
1. Tony McMillan
2. Chris Lever
3. Rob Marsh-Evans
4. Adam Flynn
5. Earl Davis
6. Alan Moogan
7. Ashley Winn
8. Michael Powell
9. Chris Simm
10. Ciaran Kilheeney
11. Matty McGinn.
Celtic will be without Steve Woods who is serving the last of his three match ban, and without Craig Hobson who has a broken arm, whilst Keith Briggs is hopeful to be fit for the match. In Celtic’s last game, the 4-0 away demolition of Harrogate, Celtic lined up as:
1. Dave Carnell
2. Andy Smart
3. Richard Battersby
4. Barrie Keeling
5. Warren Peyton
6. John Hardiker
7. Dave Hankin
8. Michael Carr
9. Joe O’Neill
10. Jody Banim
11. Lee Dodgson
The automated prediction algorithm is suggesting a 3-1 win for Southport. A win for Celtic could put us into the play-off spots, whilst a defeat could see us drop a place. With Droylsden at Alfreton, Eastwood hosting Ilkeston and Corby at Northwich, there are points to be dropped both above and below us.
Other games happening on Tuesday:
Alfreton Town (54pts 3rd) v Droylsden (46pts 5th)
Blyth Spartans (37pts 14th) v Workington (40pts 12th)
Eastwood Town (46pts 6th) v Ilkeston Town (40pts 10th)
Gainsborough Trinity (27pts 20th) v Hyde United (33pts 17th)
Northwich Victoria (43pts 9th) v Corby Town (42pts 10th)