Well the new season starts on Saturday, and Celtic couldn?t have requested a tougher start. The visitors will be Northwich Victoria who thought that they had escaped the drop from the Conference National last season when they finished fourth, but after problems with their ground, they were relegated anyway.
After a poor start to last season, starting with a thirteen game run without a win, they picked up towards the end of last season, but not enough to get out of the relegation zone. Indeed, they didn?t escape the relegation zone until midway through February after another rally in January and February allowed them to catch and overtake Forest Green. Despite not getting a single point in March, neither did Forest Green, and Northwich stayed slightly ahead, pulling clearer after winning seven of their remaining nine games.
In other words their season mirrored ours! For those who don?t know, and that must be very few people, Celtic too spent much of last season in the drop zone, until the arrival of John Reed and Mark Atkins turned the season around at the turn of the year, going on a rampaging run that saw us escape relegation. Unlike Northwich, Celtic didn?t have ground problems, and their survival was ensured, finally finishing six points clear of Runcorn, sending them down in our place.
John Allan was Northwich?s top scorer last season, with fifteen league goals, though Paul Brayson was right behind him on thirteen. They had a scoring peak just before half time, and for quarter of an hour past the hour mark. Conceding wise, it is the same periods. Away from home last season, they scored twenty-one goals, and conceded forty-three. That?s about half a goal a game scored, and over one conceded. Their away form last season wasn?t great because of this, with five wins, and five draws.
Celtic?s scored thirty goals at home, and conceded thirty-six last season, which is over a goal per game at home scored, and about the same conceded. Andy Hayward was the top scorer, with eleven goals. From the start of the Reedy Revolution to the end of the season, Celtic won ten of their remaining nineteen games to catch Bradford, Ashton and then Runcorn from a seemingly impossible position.
Thus both teams had an end of season rally, and the bookies have noticed this, putting Northwich favourites for the title, and Celtic joint third. Unlike Celtic, Northwich have kept much of last season?s squad, whilst Celtic have drafted in eleven new players.
With no prior information, the automated prediction league has gone for a 0-0 draw, but you can bet your granny?s silver it won?t be.