Match Preview :- Altrincham - Saturday March 17th, 2018 (15:00:00)

On Saturday, Celtic face their toughest challenge of the season when we make the short journey over to Altrincham. Altrincham are top, and have been for most of the season. They have seventy points and are twenty-five points and twenty-one places above Celtic having played two games more. There will be a Match Centre and Twitter feed for this game.

Altrincham dropped into the division with Celtic and it is fair to say that they adapted much more comfortably than Celtic to the nature of the league. After a slow start that saw them lose two and draw one from their opening three matches, Altrincham went on a run that saw them lose just three games after that point, with a run of sixteen games without defeat, and only four draws, a league record so far this season. They lost their last game at home to Workington 3-2, meaning in their last five matches have seen three wins and two defeats (the other being a 4-3 defeat at home to Witton. Their overall home record this season is three losses, two draws and twelve wins.

Altrincham have the best attack in the league, with an average of 2.8 goals per game at home (2.3 overall), scoring seventy-seven goals, fifteen goals more than second highest scorers, Ashton. Their top scorer is Jordan Hulme with twenty-one. Although Hulme is only the third highest scorer in the league, Altrincham also have two other players in the top ten scorers, Josh Hancock on fourteen and James Poole on twelve. They have failed to score in only four matches, and only once at home this season. Altrincham also have the best defence in the league, with thirty-two goals conceded, at a rate of a goal per game (1.1 at home). Shaw Lane have conceded fewer, but Altrincham have played four more games. Altrincham have kept sixteen clean sheets, seven of which came at home.

We have already played Altrincham this season, when we had a goalless draw, despite Celtic going a man down after a contentious dismissal of Sebastian Julien. Celtic's last visit to Moss Lane was also a goalless draw. In twenty-two visits to Moss Lane, Celtic have won twice, once in the FA Trophy in 1992 and once in the Cheshire Senior Cup in 2003. Altrincham have won twelve of those encounters.

Altrincham's last match was the 2-3 home defeat by Workington. In that match, Altrincham lined up as:
1. Tony Thompson
2. Andy White
3. Connor Hampson
4. James Jones
5. Ben Harrison
6. Jake Moult
7. John Johnston
8. Max Harrop
9. Jordan Hulme
10. James Poole
11. Tom Peers

Celtic's last match was the 4-3 win away over Workington. In that match, we lined up as:
1. Jack Walton
2. Harrison Holgate
3. Alex Honeyball
4. Danny Morton
5. Luke Ashworth
6. Ross Killock
7. Greg Wilkinson
8. Olive Roberts
9. Liam Dickinson
10. Matty Wolfenden
11. Connor Hughes

Apart from Theo Bailey-Jones (knee), Celtic will have a full squad to choose from.

Celtic have managed won twice away from home, but will be going up against arguably the best team in the league with a quick return to the Conference North in their sights. A loss for Celtic wouldn't affect our position, but a win would see us get to thirty-eight points, which would probably put us out of reach of bottom spot, if not mathematically, then at least realistically, with Sutton requiring four wins from their remaining eight games. It would also put us within reach of the four teams directly above us. Celtic are in a very false position, in the hypothetical world of winning our games in hand, we can overtake everybody except Nantwich from eleventh down.

Other games this weekend:
Barwell (53pts 7th) v Lancaster City (45pts 12th)
Hednesford Town (50pts 9th) v Marine (38pts 21st)
Matlock Town (41pts 19th) v Farsley Celtic (57pts 5th)
Nantwich Town (45pts 13th) v Halesowen Town (29pts 22nd)
Stafford Rangers (46pts 11th) v Coalville Town (43pts 17th)
Stourbridge (44pts 14th) v Ashton United (58pts 3rd)
Sutton Coldfield Town (26pts 24th) v Mickleover Sports (44pts 15th)
Warrington Town (64pts 2nd) v Grantham Town (55pts 6th)
Whitby Town (39pts 20th) v Rushall Olympic (43pts 16th)
Witton Albion (51pts 8th) v Shaw Lane (57pts 4th)
Workington (49pts 10th) v Buxton (41pts 18th)

Distance: 20
Time: 35 minutes

M60 to the M56 Sharston Exit (Junction 4), first exit onto A556 to Altrincham (Junction 2).
Follow signs to Altrincham staying on the A556.
You will reach a set of traffic lights with a Shell garage on the right, and a lacrosse/cricket club on the left.
Go straight through these lights to the next set just past the golf course on the left.
At these lights, turn left onto Stockport Road.
Follow this road all the way to the Tesco at the end, and turn left onto Moss Lane.
The ground is approximately half a mile along this road, find somewhere to park as soon as you see the ground, as it gets packed quickly.