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Match Preview :- Bradford Park Avenue - Wednesday February 2nd, 2005 (19:45:00)
Wednesday night (kick off 7.45pm) sees Celtic face Bradford Park Avenue again, this time in the oft rearranged GLS Cup match. We only faced Bradford recently, and that victory at their ground will still be smarting for them. For once, Celtic come into the game as favourites, unbeaten in three games, against opposition who haven?t won in seven. However, they have beaten us once already at home.

Not only have Bradford lost the last six games, and drawn against Worksop way back at the start of December, they haven?t found the net since they lost 2-1 at home to Harrogate at the start of the year. Things are not looking good for the league?s bottom team, and though in the league they have two games in hand on us, they are five points behind. Avenue lost their last game away at Vauxhall in another basement battle. (Unsurprisingly) Vauxhall?s overly physical approach to the game saw them nearly have Bradford?s keeper stretchered off. He played on, and was beaten only by a deflection late in the game.

Today?s competition is the last cup that both teams are in, and it is something of a distraction for both teams. However, Celtic need to keep that not-losing habit and Bradford need to find a win from somewhere to get them back into the survival race.

A potentially money spinning home tie against Halifax is on offer to the winners. With a good away support, that game will generate a fair amount of interest and is an incentive to get through to the next round if nothing else is.

Avenue are looking towards top scorer Steve Oleksewycz to find his scoring boots. The striker has five goals this campaign, but last scored five matches ago. Returning from injury is Dan Sheriffe who is currently on four goals, and looking to return to his pre-injury form. Away from home this season, Bradford are scoring 0.8 goals per game, and conceding 1.2. Most of their goals have been scored around the hour mark, with most of their conceding done in stoppage time, though they are also vulnerable at the start of the game, conceding seven goals in the opening fifteen minutes.

Celtic by comparison are scoring 1.5 goals per game at home, whilst conceding 2.2. A few weeks back, these numbers were 1.3 and 2.4, so Celtic are definitely moving in the right direction. Our top scorer across all competitions is Andy Hayward, with eleven goals. We score mostly on twenty minutes, or at the death, and concede mostly around the half hour mark and in the last ten minutes.

Coming into the game, Celtic will be without the services of Phil Hadland, Aron Wilford, Grant Black, Lincoln Adams, and Andy Lord-Kangana as they were not registered with us before the original date of the tie. Thus Celtic?s line-up will be different to a fortnight ago when we dominated the game. For Bradford, Jason Wray picked up a knock, but will probably be okay to play, and Bradford will probably line up as they did against Vauxhall:
1. Andy Britton
2. Andrew Quinn
3. Gareth Clayton
4. Jason Wray
5. Dean Jones
6. Ryan Crossley
7. Danny Walsh
8. Tony Lennon
9. Dan Sheriffe
10. Steve Oleksewycz
11. Craig Smith

Celtic may see the return of Danny Caldecott who will be looking to get some matches under him now he is well on the road to recovery. Chris Denham remains the club only injury absentee. Gregg Pearce played the whole second half, and may well get a start in the Bradford game too, ahead of Lincoln Adams. Against Nuneaton, Celtic lined up as:
1. Craig Dootson
2. Grant Black
3. Tony Whealing
4. Lincoln Adams
5. Paul Sykes
6. Barrie Keeling
7. Steve Smith
8. Scott Bonsall
9. Andy Hayward
10. Aron Wilford
11. Nathan Wharton

This is not a must win game for Celtic. Only the continuation of a winning mentality is at stake. Given the nature of the competition, the team should be able to relax and play the football that we know that they can. The prediction algorithm is calling this game as a home 2-1 win, and that seems justified.
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