It has been a long hard season, but Saturday sees Celtic face their final game away at Redditch United (kick off 3pm). With the relegation issue finally sorted, Celtic will be facing the game in a much more positive frame of mind. Redditch are currently eighth and cannot make the play-offs, so both teams will be relaxed and a cracking game should ensue.
Eleven places and fourteen points separate the two teams. After an initial poor start to the season, many people?s tip for the drop started picking up points, mainly through the canny loan-signing of Norman Sylla. After three defeats on the trot, Sylla came and started banging in the goals straight away getting nine goals in his first four games, including the four goals he scored against Vauxhall, and the further three he added during their 6-1 demolition of Barrow at Barrow which still stands as the league?s best away win. It has been results like this that have given Redditch the fifth best attack in the league, with sixty-three goals scored.
Recent results saw Redditch?s play off hopes dashed with three losses to Droylsden, Worcester and Kettering, though they did manage to dent Southport?s title hopes with a 3-2 win over them at the beginning of April. They are unbeaten in April, beating Runcorn and Alfreton too, and drawing 0-0 away at Altrincham. More impressively, their last game saw them lift some silverware with a 3-2 victory over Birmingham City in the Birmingham Senior Cup.
So far this season, they have taken six points off Barrow, Bradford, Hinckley, and Runcorn. They have had six points taken off them by Gainsborough, Kettering and Worcester. Having lost back in February against Celtic, Celtic could add to the list of teams taking six points off them. Indeed, Celtic have played Redditch twice and beaten them both times, the previous Celtic victory coming last season in the FA Trophy when we won 3-1 at their place.
Norman Sylla is the league?s joint second highest scorer with twenty-two goals (ten behind Terry Fearns). However, he?s been missing since scoring in the victory over Southport. Fortunately, Redditch have an able replacement in Simon Hollis (ten league goals) and Scott Rickards (eleven league goals). Hollis has scored three goals in the last three games.
In the last ten games, Redditch have lost five, won four and drawn one. They have scored fifteen goals and kept two clean sheets. They have conceded twenty goals and failed to score twice, stats that saw their play-off hopes dashed. On average, at home, Redditch have scored 1.7 goals per game, whilst conceding 1.4 goals per game. They tend to score towards the end of each half with sixteen in the last ten minutes of the first half, and nineteen in the last ten minutes of the second. Most of their conceding has been done towards the end of the game with sixteen of their fifty six goals against scored in the last fifteen minutes.
There is no news on the Redditch web sites as to why Norman Sylla has not played the last two games, but their line up in their 0-0 draw away at Altrincham was:
1. Richard Antiss
2. Matt Clarke
3. Asa Charlton
4. Sean Flynn
5. Gary Knight
6. Mark Taylor
7. Simon Hollis
8. Richard Softley
9. Matt Aubrey
10. Scott Rickards
11. Danny Schepplel
Celtic will be in party mood when they visit the Midlands. With the recalling of Andy Parton, Celtic have responded by recalling Phil Eastwood back into the side, and he played against Woking in the GLS Cup final, and though he didn?t score, he looked much fitter than he has all season. Grant Black is doubtful, having taken all of the skin off the top of his thigh and is struggling to walk. Scott Bonsall is suffering with a bad back and will be examined ahead of the game, but it may be another start for Scott Willis.
Celtic?s line up in the GLS Cup Final saw a lot of the fringe players getting a game, and doing very well, due to injuries and ineligibility:
1. Craig Dootson
2. Terry Bowker
3. Tony Whealing
4. Barrie Keeling
5. Paul Sykes
6. Mark Atkins
7. Steve Smith
8. Kev Parr
9. Phil Eastwood
10. Aron Wilford
11. Nathan Wharton.
Chris Denham came on in the second half, and seemed to make it through the game unscathed.
The automated prediction for the game is 2-1 to Redditch due to only losing two of their last six home games, and that to highly placed teams. Celtic have only won two of their last away games. If results go the right way for Redditch, they can move up at most one place, but Celtic could move up two places. Finishing in seventeenth spot would have been unthinkable four months ago. This is testament to John Reed and Mark Atkins. As this is the last Preview for some time I?d just like to say thanks.