On Saturday, Harrogate line up against Celtic for the second time in seven days for the Conference North Clash at Bower Fold (kick off 3pm). Harrogate are still bottom of the Blue Square North, eight points adrift of Gainsborough, but with two games in hand on them. They are fourteen places and twenty-three points behind Celtic, despite having played a game more. There will be a live match centre for this game.
Harrogate?s season has never really got going, with their highest position this season being eleventh in the first week of the season. A pair of good results against relegation rivals Vauxhall and Gainsborough lifted them to third from bottom temporarily, but back to back home losses to Telford and ourselves have put them right back at the bottom again. Harrogate?s only away win this season was their last win, and their last away game, a 2-1 win over Vauxhall in mid-February. Their clean sheet in the other recent win, the 2-0 home win over Gainsborough put an end to eighteen consecutive games conceding a goal, a record only beaten by Hyde United, against whom Harrogate?s previous clean sheet came against, with their only other shut-out coming in the second game of the season when they beat Vauxhall 3-0. That was Harrogate?s best result of the season, whilst their worst result was a 5-0 away defeat at the hands of Droylsden.
We have only just beaten Harrogate, winning 4-0 there last week, our second consecutive victory over the Yorkshire outfit. Harrogate?s last visit to Bower Fold, last season, saw them come away 3-1 victors, whilst Celtic?s last win over Harrogate at Bower Fold was the season before in January 2008 when we won 3-2. Having taken sixteen percent of the last thirty points, Harrogate are fourth bottom in the away form table (Celtic are third with sixty-three percent over the same period); whilst Celtic are fifteenth in the home form table, taking fifty percent of the available thirty points. In the overall form table, Harrogate are bottom, having taken twenty-six percent of the available points, whilst Celtic are fifteenth with thirty-four percent.
Harrogate?s top scorer is Rory Coleman, who has five goals this season; however, as a loan player he has not been with them since November, so the Golden Boot is currently between Brian Dutton, Trevor Benjamin and Peter Knox, all of whom have three. Overall, they score just under a goal per game (0.7 away from home), whilst they concede 1.9 goals per game (two away from home). They have failed to score in seven away matches and thirteen overall, whilst they have conceded in every away game but have kept three home clean sheets. With ten of their twenty-eight goals coming around the seventy minute mark, this is their most dangerous period. Fourteen of their fifty-five conceded goals have come around the hour mark, making this their most vulnerable period.
Harrogate will be without Martin Foster and Peter Knox for the game, due to suspension. They appear to be injury free for the match though. In their last match, the 4-0 home defeat to us, they lined up as:
1. Aaron Ratchford
2. Jon Maloney
3. Craig James
4. Simon Yeo
5. Matt Bloomer
6. Simon Sturdy
7. Simon Harrison
8. Richard Dunning
9. Tom Cahill
10. Lee Gregory
11. Ben Muirhead
Celtic can welcome back Steve Woods from his suspension. Craig Hobson?s broken arm will rule him out of a number of forthcoming games, whilst Barrie Keeling was missing in the last game through illness and John Hardiker was also out with a perforated eardrum. John Harvey gave starts to the two new signings, Danny Adams and Michael Twiss. In that match, Celtic lined up as:
1. David Carnell
2. Richard Battersby
3. Andrew Smart
4. Graeme Law
5. Warren Peyton
6. Danny Adams
7. Dave Hankin
8. Michael Carr
9. Joe O?Neill
10. Jody Banim
11. Michael Twiss
The automated prediction algorithm is suggesting a 3-2 home win for Celtic. If other results go our way (i.e. Droylsden and Eastwood draw and Telford lose at Hyde), this would be enough to put us into the play offs. With Northwich and Corby both right on our tail, a defeat could see us drop to tenth. A draw could lift us to sixth. It is very tight in our bit of the table.
Other games on Saturday:
Droylsden (46pts 5th) v Eastwood Town (46pts 5th)
Fleetwood Town (69pts 1st) v Solihull Moors (39pts 13th)
Gainsborough Trinity (30pts 19th) v Alfreton Town (57pts 3rd)
Gloucester City (30pts 20th) v Vauxhall Motors (27pts 21st)
Hyde United (33pts 19th) v AFC Telford United (46pts 7th)
Ilkeston Town (40pts 12th) v Blyth Spartans (38pts 14th)
Northwich Victoria (44pts 9th) v Stafford Rangers (35pts 15th)
Redditch United (33pts 17th) v Southport (65pts 2nd)
Workington (41pts 11th) v Corby Town (43pts 10th)