On Saturday, Celtic face Salford City, in the league this time (kick off 3pm). Salford are currently third in the league on fifty-three points, eighteen places and thirty-eight points ahead of Celtic, though that have played two games more. There will be a match centre and Twitter feed for this match.
Apart from a slump in September and October, Salford have been in the top five all season. That run of seven games without a win and two wins in ten saw them drop to their lowest position this season of tenth. Since then they have lost just twice (both away, to Halifax and Gloucester) and drawn three, winning nine. They have lost just once at home this season, 2-1 to Tamworth during Salford’s slump. In fourteen home games, they have won eight and drawn the other five. Salford’s last home game was a 5-0 win over Fylde, impressive any way you look at it. The last time they did not win at home was a goalless draw with Harrogate at the start of November, going on to win the next five games, scoring sixteen goals in those games without a single goal against. Their last two games, though, have both been away losses, losing 3-2 away to Gloucester and 2-1 away to us in the Manchester Premier Cup.
Salford’s top scorer, Mike Phenix, was rested against Celtic in the MPC, his thirteen goals put him just ahead of ten goal, Jordan Hulme. They score an average of 2.3 goals per game at home (2.1 overall) and concede 0.9 goals per game at home. They have only failed to score once at home (a goalless draw against Harrogate), and kept half of their fourteen clean sheets at home. In total they have scored thirty-two goals at home (sixty overall) and conceded just twelve (thirty overall). They have the third best defence in the league and the fourth best attack.
Our most recent meeting was at Bower Fold on Tuesday night in the Manchester Premier Cup, which Celtic won 2-1. The league meeting back at the start of August was a 4-0 win for Salford. Salford’s ground has changed considerably since Celtic’s last visit, back in 2014 when we visited for a friendly that Celtic won 3-0, Paul Ennis with a hat-trick.
Undoubtedly, the league selection for both teams will be different from the MPC match, but in Tuesday’s Manchester Premier Cup game, Salford lined up as:
1. Jay Lynch
2. Craig King
3. Stephen O’Halloran
4. David Norris
5. Steve Howson
6. Billy Priestley
7. Nick Houghton
8. Sam Walker
9. Richie Allen
10. George Green
11. John Johnston
Celtic lined up as:
1. Callum O’Neill
2. Danny Morton
3. Danny Wisdom
4. Matty Hughes
5. Aaron Chalmers
6. Mathias Bakare
7. Kieran Dunbar
8. Gary Gee
9. Porya Ahmadi
10. Danny Wilkins
11. Florian Da Silva
This will be Steve Burr’s first league game in charge, he will be hoping to start with a win that could kick start the rescuing of Celtic’s status in the Conference North. Salford for their part could lose their top five spot with a loss, so will also be keen to win and cement their play-off hopes. Celtic are thirteen points behind Bradford, Worcester and Telford and fourteen behind Gainsborough, though we do have one or two games in hand on the teams above. Winning the two games in hand we have over Bradford and Worcester would put us seven points behind them, and we have to play both of them at home.
This season isn’t over yet.
There is a full program on Saturday. There are a lot of top v bottom games this week, the bottom desperate for survival, the top knowing a slip could see them drop out of the top five. The other matches are:
AFC Telford (28pts 18th) v Tamworth (50pts 7th)
Altrincham (9pts 22nd) v Harrogate Town (45pts 9th)
Boston United (35pts 12th) v Darlington (47pts 8th)
Brackley Town (42pts 11th) v AFC Fylde (63pts 1st)
Chorley (52pts 4th) v Kidderminster Harriers (56pts 2nd)
Curzon Ashton (34pts 14th) v Alfreton Town (31pts 16th)
Gainsborough Trinity (29pts 17th) v Gloucester City (45pts 10th)
Nuneaton Town (32pts 15th) v Bradford Park Avenue (28pts 20th)
Stockport County (51pts 6th) v FC United of Manchester (34pts 13th)
Worcester City (28pts 19th) v FC Halifax Town (51pts 5th)
Take the M60 to Junction 19 (Middleton).
At the roundabout at the end of the slip road, turn left (1 of 4) onto A576 (Middleton Road).
After 2 miles, turn right at the lights onto A665 (Bury Old Road).
After half a mile, turn left onto Singleton Road, which becomes Moor Lane, and the club is a mile down on the left.