Stalybridge will need every ounce of their recent good form as they visit Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday (3pm kick-off). Trinity are currently four points outside the play-off spots in tenth, and will be looking to close the gap on Droylsden and Kettering with a victory at home. The two teams met only recently at Bower Fold, and Gainsborough came back to snatch a draw.
Gainsborough?s last outing was an away trip to Cumbria where Barrow took all three points with a 2-0 win. Up until then, Gainsborough were on something of a flyer with recent away wins at Worcester and Worksop, and home wins over Redditch and Ashton. They can be beaten at home, if the visiting team has enough desire, as Vauxhall Motors showed when they beat Trinity 2-1 at the Northolme.
Gainsborough have one of the top attacks in the league, with forty-three goals scored this season. Lee Ellington is the source of a quarter of these goals, scoring fourteen this season, which puts him joint third in the goal-scorers chart. Trailing some distance behind, but with a very healthy tally of eight goals is Simon Bird. At home this season, Trinity score an average of 1.3 goals per game, whilst conceding 1.1 goals. They score equally between the two halves, with a first half peak around the half hour mark, and a second half peak around the hour mark. Defensively, they?ve leaked a lot of goals in the final few minutes, and around the half hour mark. Over the past six games, they have failed to keep a clean sheet, and failed to score in one game, conceding ten goals and scoring eight goals in this period.
So far, February equals their best month of November, as when taken in isolation, they would have come second, though their actual highest placing has been seventh. They have taken six points off Redditch and Ashton, but so far only Vauxhall have managed to take all six points off them.
Celtic are now unbeaten in six league games, with four wins in seven. Andy Hayward is the clubs top scorer with six league goals, and taking February alone, Celtic would have finished first! This is an indication of how far we have come in just four weeks. Barrow, Harrogate and Southport have all taken six points off us, while we have taken six from Ashton and Vauxhall. On average, we score 0.9 goals per game away from home, whilst conceding 1.6, which is why we?ve lost eight away games, and won only three. Over the past six games, we have kept two clean sheets, conceded seven goals, scored in them all, with ten goals to our name. We don?t really have a peak in scoring though we have scored five in the last ten minutes. Conceding wise, we?ve been exceptionally leaky in the opening quarter of an hour, and around the half hour and last ten minutes.
Gainsborough?s main goal keeper, Jamie Holmshaw was unavailable for their game against Barrow, but should be back between the sticks for Saturday?s clash. Simon Bird picked up a knock against Vauxhall Motors, and will undergo a fitness test ahead of the game. They do have loan signing Ryan Mallon in midfield from Sheffield Wednesday to bolster their squad, though.
They lined up against Barrow as:
1. Oliver Schofield
2. Ben Purkiss
3. Adam Burley
4. Wes Parker
5. Richard Pell
6. Jamie Sherlock
7. Danny Wood
8. Chris Hurst
9. Lee Ellington
10. Ryan Mallon
11. Gareth Grant
Scott Bonsall picked up a nasty knock against Redditch midweek, and is extremely doubtful. Nathan Wharton picked up another yellow card and is now suspended for the Trinity game. Gregg Pearce strained a calf muscle in the sticky Bower Fold pitch, but will hopefully be fully fit for Saturday. Calcutt has recovered well and could be in contention for a place, as is Danny Caldecott. Dave German, Terry Bowker and Kevin Parr are all close to being fully fit, but will probably be unavailable for Saturday.
We lined up against Redditch as:
1. Craig Dootson
2. Grant Black
3. Tony Whealing
4. Gregg Pearce
5. Barrie Keeling
6. Paul Shepherd
7. Andy Hayward
8. Scott Bonsall
9. Andy Parton
10. Aron Wilford
11. Nathan Wharton
The automatic prediction for this game has Celtic winning 2-1, and this is because it is a game that Celtic can win.
In the mini-relegation league, Worcester and Vauxhall are playing at Worcester, and the out come of that game will go a long way to making one or the other of these safe, unless it?s a draw. Vauxhall are four points ahead of us, Worcester five. Elsewhere, Moor Green who are also five points ahead of us are away at Hucknall, and Runcorn who are six points ahead of us are hosting Hinckley. A win therefore will close the gap on at least one team to within striking distance, though we have to play Halifax next which is, at the moment, an unwelcome distraction. After that though, March will see us take on two of the other relegation candidates of Worcester and Runcorn, so we need to be as close as possible to them when we play to make them nervous. Another cup final then!