Match Preview :- Runcorn FC Halton - Friday March 25th, 2005 (7:45PM)
Friday sees Celtic?s chance to get out of the relegation zone. A win against Runcorn FC Halton would definitely see us leave the bottom three and put Runcorn in it. Obviously, Runcorn are going to have some say in that! With them one place and only two points above us in the table, this is seen as a relegation decider.

After a mediocre start, Runcorn had a mid-season improvement that saw them rise to sixth in the table, before plummeting back down to their current position of hovering just outside the relegation zone.

Runcorn off field problems seem to have spurred them on, and they actually won their last game in the Halton Stadium, beating Bradford 2-1, though it did take a late James Locke goal to do so. Prior to that, they had four games without a win, but managed to get a 3-3 draw against away Altrincham. Their last clean sheet was against Alfreton in January, when they won 1-0, and their last away win was at Vauxhall Motors, about six weeks ago.

Over the last ten league games, they have conceded in all but one, and failed to score in three of them. They have scored eleven goals over this period, and conceded fifteen, explaining why they have only had three wins in this period.

For the season, they have had three away wins, six away draws, and eight away losses. Surprisingly, they have managed to take six points off a team this season: Bradford. Droylsden, Nuneaton and Southport all took six points off them though. Celtic won?t be adding to either statistic, having drawn at the Halton Stadium way back in August.

Their top scorer is Nicky Young with nine goals, who got two of them at Altrincham in their recent 3-3 draw. Ged Courtney is in second place of their current squad, with two. Away from home, they score 1.1 goals per game, and concede 1.8. They have scored equally in the two halves, with a peak around the half hour mark. Most of their conceding is done in the second half, with a lot of teams hitting them right after the restart and twelve goals have been conceded in the first ten minutes of the second half.

They don?t appear to have any injury or suspension worries ahead of the game on Good Friday, and they lined up against Bradford as:
1. Neil Thomson
2. Tom Spearritt
3. Matty McGinn
4. Barry Jones
5. John Robertson
6. Lee Parle
7. Tommy Taylor
8. Mike Jack
9. Robbie Moore
10. Nicky Young
11. Phil McDiarmid

Celtic have won their last three games 1-0, and are on an impressive run, with the longest current unbeaten run in the league of ten games. Over the same period, Celtic have scored in every game, putting them on the league?s longest current scoring streak too. It?s no coincidence that this times well with John Reed?s appointment.

Craig Dootson (and quite a few others) were missing for Celtic?s victory over Worksop in the GLS cup, and will be having a fitness test ahead of the game on Friday, but stand-in Phil Robinson had a good game in his stead. New signing, Andy Haskins had an impressive debut, and will be looking for another start on Friday. Against Worksop Celtic lined up as:
1. Phil Robertson
2. Terry Bowker
3. Tony Whealing
4. Barrie Keeling
5. Paul Sykes
6. Andy Haskins
7. Ben Smith
8. Kev Parr
9. Chris Denham
10. Andy Hayward
11. Nathan Wharton

Runcorn are something of bogey team to Celtic. Out of the last nineteen meetings, Celtic have beaten them only three times, and two of those occasions were away. Runcorn, in comparison, have won eight of them. Nevertheless, the automated prediction has come up with a 3-1 score line in Celtic?s favour, considering the relative recent form of the two teams that has seen Runcorn pick up nine points out of the last thirty, and Celtic pick up sixteen in the same period.

With so much riding on this game though, the atmosphere will be tense on the pitch and it will be up to the supporters to ease that tension by getting positively behind the team.
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