On Saturday, at 3pm, the next visitors to Bower Fold will be Vauxhall Motors, currently one of only 2 teams below Celtic in the league table. Both teams will be looking to build on their mid-week Cheshire senior cup wins against lower league opposition to kick-start their league campaigns.
Stalybridge will be coming into the game without having won a home game, whilst Vauxhall have just their Cheshire Senior Cup victory over Woodley Sports (4-2) mid-week in their credits column. In the league, though, they have had four straight away defeats, though they have been tricky fixtures: Redditch, Alfreton, Lancaster and Southport! At home they have fare better, losing to Droylsden but holding Nuneaton Harrogate and Worksop to draws.
So far they have scored one goal exactly in every game that they have played, both home and away, but are conceding on average 3 goals a game away from home. In the first half they have been fairly tight at the back, conceding only four goals, mainly just before the half time interval, it is in the second half where the other 13 goals have gone in 5 in the last 10 minutes. In contrast, they score about the same in either half.
Their current top scorers are Karl O?Connell and Mike Tomlinson with 2 goals apiece.
Coming into the game, they do not appear to have any injury or suspension worries, but with a wafer thin squad they couldn?t afford them. However, I have been unable to work out who plays where as there is precious little information on the team on the web.
Looking at an appearances chart though, Vauxhall will probably comprise of some or all of these players in one position or another?
Phil Brazier, Peter Cuminksey, Robbie Lawton, Wayne McDermott, Carl Nesbitt, Karl O?Donnell, James Olsen, Carl Spellman, Mike Tomlinson, James Glendenning and whoever is keeping goal for the motormen these days!
Celtic have met Vauxhall 4 times in the league, and Celtic are yet to beat them. The best we have managed are two draws. Last season, they beat us at Bower Fold and we drew at their place, after a pair of refereeing decisions so bad, they resulted in Dave Miller getting a three game touchline ban for accosting them. Action from the 2002 game.
Celtic are coming into this game with a usual litany of injuries, but Nathan Wharton may well be back and on the bench, and Scott Bonsall came through ninety minutes of cup action mid-week, and after his performance must be in a strong position for a start. Gregg Pearce broke his leg at Nantwich, and will be out until at least Christmas, whilst Phil Eastwood is out with a viral infection, and Darren Bowman with an ankle injury.
Chris Denham's fracture flared up after his run out at Moor Green, and will again be on the physio table for another couple of weeks.
The ex-Bury player, Lee Connell, is now an ex-Celtic player, having joined Bacup Borough, leaving Celtic's squad as self-chosing as Vauxhalls:
1. Craig Dootson
2. Ben Smith
3. Tony Whealing
4. Dave German
5. Barrie Keeling
6. Scott Bonsall
7. Paul Sykes
8. Kev Parr
9. Andy Hayward
10. David Moores
11. Damien Hindle
The bench will probably have Dean Calcutt, Terry Bowker, Nathan Wharton, Ian Monk and Adam Jones on it.
This is still a strong team, and Celtic will be looking for a win against the fellow strugglers from Ellesmere Port. The latest automatic prediction for the game is a 1-1 draw, but it doesn?t take cup results and confidence into account. After Celtic?s magnificent second-half performance under difficult conditions in deepest Cheshire, squad confidence must be boosted, hopefully more so than the Motor?s, who also won midweek.