Celtic make the long trip down the M6 to Worcester on Saturday for the 3pm kick off in this league clash with the currently 11th placed Worcester City. Worcester are currently 12 points clear of Celtic, and won their last game 2-1 against fellow Tamesiders, Droylsden.
That game was in the National Conference League Cup, and by all accounts for the most part it was Droylsden attacking and being held at bay by some resolute defending, eventually followed by some rapid counter-attack from Worcester. This was to be expected, as the two sides are the top two attacking sides in the league. The only surprise was the low score-line!
As would be expected of one of the top two attacks, Worcester score a lot of goals, and it?s no surprise that two of the top-twenty goal scorers in the league play for Worcester, ex-Celtic player Leon Kelly and fellow forward Adam Webster who have nine apiece. Leon Kelly in Celtic colours
At home Worcester score an average of only 1.5 goals per game, and concede 1 per game, whilst Celtic manage to score a mere 0.5 goals per game away from home, whilst conceding 1.5. Celtic have not won away from home this season.
Worcester have lost at home in the league, they did so against Worksop Town during a lean spell for the team, which saw them loose three on the bounce in September, and take only one win out of the other three games they played. Their recent league form is impressive, both home and away, without a loss in five games. Across all competitions, they have been not quite so impressive, having been dumped out of the FA Cup by Cambridge City at the first hurdle and out of the county cup by Bromsgrove Rovers. They have, however, beaten Chippenham to go through to the next round of the Trophy.
In their last ten games, they have conceded thirteen goals suggesting a weakness at the back that Celtic may be able to exploit. However, they have scored 19 goals over the same number of games, suggesting that there will be a lot of pressure on a defence that has kept only two clean sheets all season. From mid-September through to the start of October, Worcester failed to score any goals, unfortunately, they appear to be out of this drought and making up for lost time with nine scored in the last four league matches.
Most of the conceded goals are in the first half, with the defence tightening up in the second half. As Celtic seem to be playing better in the second half, this could be a problem. Celtic need to come out of the blocks looking for a win. They need to be up for this game, as this is the first game of the run into Christmas. We need to pick up as many points as possible in as many games as possible. The Worcester game is possibly the worst place to start this campaign, but it has to start somewhere.
Worcester don?t appear to have any injury worries ahead of the game, and will probably line up as follows:
1. Danny McDonnell
2. Rob Warner
3. Les Hines
4. Colin Hoyle
5. Carl Heeley
6. Paul Carty
7. Pat Lyons
8. Jai Stanley
9. Mark Owen
10. Leon Kelly
11. Adam Webster
Celtic are still without the services of Craig Dootson, Gregg Pearce, Phil Eastwood and Chris Denham. Scott Bonsall should be fit to play (after the nasty tackle on Saturday), as should Nathan Wharton. However, it is still unclear whether Lee Connor will be cleared in time for the match. Dave German may start, having returned from his honeymoon.
Celtic will probably adopt the same formation they have played recently:
1. Phil Priestley
2. Dave German
3. Tony Wheeling
4. Terry Bowker
5. Barrie Keeling
6. Paul Sykes
7. Ben Smith
8. Kev Parr
9. Andy Hayward
10. Scott Bonsall
11. Steve Smith
Coming off the bench we may see Dean Calcutt, Nathan Wharton and Danny Caldecott.
Celtic need an unlikely win on Saturday. Based on form, they are predicted to lose 2-1, with Worcester striding into top gear and will be formidable. All the preceding season needs to be put out of the players? minds (and the fans) and they need to start the season here and get something out of it.