On Boxing Day Monday, Celtic face a Festive Fixture game against Curzon Ashton, with a 3pm kick-off. Curzon are thirteen points and six places ahead of Celtic in fifteenth on twenty-three points. There will be a match centre for this vital game.
The Festive double headers are massive for Celtic this season. Anything less than six points could spell doom, putting Curzon close to safety, and leaving Celtic far adrift and in danger of losing our status as one of only two teams that have constantly been in the Conference North since its formation (the other is Gainsborough). Curzon’s have won six games this season, three more than Celtic, winning three on the bounce recently to rise to their current fifteenth position. And those wins were good wins, beating Gloucester away, and Harrogate and Halifax at home. Their most recent game was a 3-1 away defeat at Boston. They will also have been buoyed by their exploits in the FA Cup, only finally going out against Wimbledon at the Tameside Stadium.
Niall Cummins is their top scorer at this halfway point, with six goals, though they have sixteen different scorers! On average they score 1.4 goals per game (1.6 away), and concede two goals per game (1.7 away) – indicating that they are a better away side than home side. With an away record of won three, drawn three and lost three, compared to a home record of won two, drawn two and lost six, this is borne out. They have failed to score in two away games, and four of their five clean sheets have come away from home. In all four games they have been winning at half time, they have gone on to win. In the six games they have not been winning at half time, they’ve won none of them, so a good first half performance is imperative.
Celtic have never lost to Curzon in a competitive match this century. This is three games. Most recently, we beat them 1-0 in the Manchester Premier Cup, Adam Morning with the goal. In the league, we met twice last season, drawing both, with a 0-0 away and a 1-1 at home – Bohan Dixon’s early goal cancelled out at the start of the second half by Ryan Brooke, though Celtic played the end of the match with ten men after losing Matty Hughes midway through the second half.
In Curzon’s last match, the 3-1 away defeat to Boston, they lined up as:
1. Cameron Mason
2. Jordan Wright
3. Joseph Guest
4. Jonathon Hunt
5. Jamie Stott
6. Connor Hampson
7. Adam Morgan
8. Luke Clarke
9. Niall Cummins
10. Alex Brown
11. James Baillie
Celtic’s last match was the disappointing 1-0 home defeat to play-off contenders, Brackley Town. In that match, Celtic lined up as:
1. Grant Shenton
2. Danny Morton
3. Adam Mather
4. Alex Honeyball
5. Keil O’Brien
6. Aaron Chalmers
7. Kieran Dunbar
8. Gary Gee
9. Danny Wilkins
10. Liam Dickinson
11. Danny Hall
Danny Wisdom made it to the bench for the last match, and Scott Spencer got some much needed pitch time. It’s still unlikely that either will start on Monday, but it is encouraging to see the injury crisis slowly easing.
We are in the sad state of needing other teams around us to loose, so games to watch are the Boston v Gainsborough, Salford v Bradford, Telford v Alfreton, Tamworth v Nuneaton and Altrincham v FC United fixtures. Boston, Salford, Tamworth and FC United could do us big favours, and hopefully, Telford and Alfreton pick up two points apiece out of the two fixtures.
There is a full Festive Fixture list for Boxing Day, the other local derbies are:
AFC Fylde (50pts 1st) v Chorley (41pts 3rd)
AFC Telford (22pts 17th) v Alfreton Town (21pts 18th)
Altrincham (7pts 22nd) v FC United of Manchester (27pts 12th)
Boston United (25pts 13th) v Gainsborough Trinity (20pts 19th)
Brackley Town (36pts 6th) v Gloucester City (30pts 11th)
Darlington (38pts 5th) v FC Halifax Town (34pts 9th)
Harrogate Town (31pts 10th) v Stockport County (35pts 8th)
Salford City (35pts 7th) v Bradford Park Avenue (19pts 20th)
Tamworth (40pts 4th) v Nuneaton Town (22pts 16th)
Worcester City (23pts 14th) v Kidderminster Harriers (43pts 2nd)