It?s a home game on Tuesday evening, as Gainsborough visit for this Conference North clash. Gainsborough are eight places and seventeen points ahead of us, and this will be a much sterner test than Bradford.
Gainsborough lost their last match (at home to Vauxhall), but won their last away match (away at Worksop). Indeed, their away form has not seen them draw this season, winning five and losing five. In the last six away matches, they?ve won four of them (Worksop, Ashton, Redditch and Hucknall) and lost twice (Droylsden and Vauxhall).
With Stalybridge winning their last match, the two momentums should hopefully provide Celtic with their third home win of the campaign and put them within touching distance of safety. With this the only game before Saturday, a win would put us just three points behind Vauxhall, though the goal difference is marked (we?re on -20 and Vauxhall on -8) it would give added incentive to continue the form against Nuneaton on Saturday.
First, we have to overcome Gainsborough through, who have scored as many as they have conceded this season (thirty-six). They score and concede equally in the two halves, with a scoring peak on half an hour and a conceding peak at the death of the game. In Lee Ellington they have one of the league?s top scorers with eleven league goals this campaign ? putting him joint fifth. Also sneaking into the top twenty is Simon Bird with eight goals.
Away from home, they scorer 1.7 goals per game, and concede 1.9. They have kept two clean sheets away from the Northholme (against Redditch and Kettering ? both some time ago), but they have only failed to score once away from home (against Vauxhall). Home and away, they have only failed to score twice, so they know where the net is.
There is a wave of optimism in the Celtic camp at the moment, brought on by the fantastic result at Bradford. This goes someway to erase the season?s poor run. Our recent home record still needs improving, however, as we have lost three home games on the trot, last winning against Ashton back in October. The lack of home games means that we have only played three of them since then. We have won two crucial away matches recently, and taken six points from nine. This is the kind of form that will lift us out of the relegation zone, if not the relegation dog-fight, which we will be in until the end of the season.
Celtic?s top league scorers are Nathan Wharton and Andy Hayward, with five apiece. We concede most heavily around the half hour and with ten minutes to go, periods in which we have conceded twenty goals. Our scoring is low, but we do have spikes around the hour mark and in stoppage time. At home, we score 1.5 goals per game, and concede 2.4, numbers that will be hard to shift after such a sieve like start to the season.
The injury crisis is easing for Celtic now though, with only Kev Parr, Chris Denham and Danny Caldecott still in the walking wounded. The rest of the squad is now fit, and vying for places.
Gainsborough have no injury or suspension worries coming into the game, and ran out last time (against Vauxhall) as:
1. Jamie Holmshaw
2. Ben Purkiss
3. Adam Burley
4. Neil Allison
5. Richard Pell
6. Jamie Sherlock
7. Chris O?Brien
8. Chris Hurst
9. Lee Ellington
10. Simon Bird
11. Matty Caudwell
Celtic didn?t pick up any new injuries during the game against Bradford, despite the heavy handed tactics of the home side in the second half. Against Bradford we lined up as:
1. Craig Dootson
2. Grant Black
3. Tony Whealing
4. Lincoln Adams
5. Paul Sykes
6. Barrie Keeling
7. Ben Smith
8. Scott Bonsall
9. Andy Hayward
10. Phil Hadland
11. Steve Smith
This is yet another cup final for Celtic, and a game we just have to win for three reasons. Firstly, it will keep the momentum going. Secondly, a win at home may bring more people on Saturday, if it looks like the team are doing better, people will return. Thirdly, and most crucially, it will put us three points away from safety.