The next crucial match at Bower Fold is Saturday (kick off 3pm), when Worcester City will be the visitors. Worcester are having something of a revival under new manager Andy Preece, so somebody?s good run is going to end on Saturday. Having already beaten us once this season, Worcester will be hoping it will be ours.
After an initial season high of second place Worcester plummeted to mid-table, and have recently been flirting with the relegation battle, as they are on forty-one points in sixteenth, twelve points and four places ahead of Celtic, well within reach of the relegation battlers, including us. Their recent form is impressive, with three straight wins home and away, against the teams around them, and thus important wins. They have beaten Bradford and Vauxhall at home, and Lancaster away. Prior to this, they had a draw with Alfreton, before new manager syndrome kicked in, and lifted them away from the battle raging for 19th spot. A new manager was brought in, after 2005 saw Worcester not win a single game until midway through February.
Andy Preece?s first job at Worcester was to tighten up the defence, and in the last four games they have conceded just one goal. When not conceding a team is always likely to win and over the same period, Worcester have scored five goals. Compared to the previous six games, where Worcester conceded thirteen goals, whilst scoring four, their recent form looks even more impressive.
The fact that Worcester can score goals is reflected in the fact that in Adam Webster (fifteen) and Leon Kelly (eleven) they have two players in the top twenty league goal scorers, in joint third and joint seventh respectively. Away from home, they have scored 1.4 goals per game this season, whilst conceding 1.5 goals per game. Their most dangerous period has to be seventy-eighty minutes, where they have bagged twelve of their forty-four goals. Conceding wise, the quarter of an hour before half time has seen them concede thirteen of their forty-three goals against. Adam Webster is on fire, goal-wise, at the moment, with three goals in two games, and five in six games, whilst Leon Kelly has found the net just once in the last ten games.
Worcester have got six points of just one team so far this season: Lancaster. Having got three points against us already, they will be looking to double this to two teams. There is no doubt that it is a vital game, for both teams, with a draw suiting neither. A win could leave Celtic in prime position for overtaking both Moor Green and Runcorn on Tuesday night against Hucknall leaving the relegation zone behind ? and who could have foreseen that at Christmas when we were bottom?
Celtic warmed up for the match with a 10-1 training match against Hollinwood mid-week. And though Celtic have kept only two clean sheets in the last ten games, they have scored plenty of goals, including the 7-3 demolition of Halifax last week. Just in the last ten league matches, we have scored fifteen goals, and conceded thirteen. These numbers change to twenty-two scored, and sixteen conceded if the cup match is included. With Andy Hayward still our top scorer, newcomer Aron Wilford will be looking to close the gap on those eleven goals in order to snatch the golden boot. Currently on six, it?s not beyond the realms of possibility.
At home this season, Celtic have scored an average of 1.5 goals per game, and conceded 2.0 goals per game. Most of our scoring is done in the second half, with a peak just before the full time. Conceding wise, the run up to the first half whistle has been particularly bad, with the second part of the first half seeing us concede twenty-two goals in this period, just under half of our total in a quarter of the match.
We are unbeaten in ten games now; including some good draws away, the recent 1-1 at Hinckley, 2-2 against Gainsborough (twice), and a 1-1 against Nuneaton. Confidence is oozing through the squad.
Colin Hoyle, a centre-half, has left Worcester this week to join Ilkeston Town, otherwise, Worcester have no injury or suspension worries ahead of the game. Against Bradford, they lined up as:
1. Danny McDonnell
2. Rob Warner
3. Les Hines
4. Colin Hoyle
5. Barry Woolley
6. Carl Heeley
7. Tom Warner
8. Nick Colley
9. Leon Kelly
10. Adam Webster
11. John Snape
Grant Black picked up a knock in the friendly against Hollinwood, but should be fit to play on Saturday. Scott Bonsall has been out for a while, and will have a fitness test. Dave German is definitely out, still recovering from his recent hernia operation. Phil Eastwood and Dean Calcutt are both still out on loan; otherwise, John Reed has a full team to pick from.
Against Hinckley, Celtic lined up as:
1. Craig Dootson
2. Grant Black
3. Danny Caldecott
4. Barrie Keeling
5. Paul Sykes
6. Paul Shepherd
7. Steve Smith
8. Nathan Wharton
9. Andy Parton
10. Aron Wilford
11. Chris Denham
Celtic?s timing when it comes to playing these teams has been bad this season, and this is another case of bad-timing, with Worcester on a roll, and new manager syndrome still giving the team confidence. However, Celtic?s new manager syndrome has been ticking along for some time, and we are now unbeaten in ten games (twelve including friendlies) and Worcester will find us a sterner test this time around.