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Match Preview :- Workington - Saturday December 3rd, 2005 (15:00:00)
Celtic travel north up the M6 on Saturday for the league clash with Workington. Workington are the team that have twice dumped Celtic out of the FA Cup, and perhaps some measure of revenge is in the air. Workington are performing the best out of the promoted teams, sitting in fourteenth, five places and four points behind Celtic.

Workington have converted the most number of penalties of any team in the league (four), and have been on the wrong end of the worst away result in the league ? their 6-1 drubbing by Barrow. They?ve also been on the right end of a drubbing, beating Redditch United 6-3 at Redditch, which is the league?s highest number of goals scored in one game.

After an unbeaten run of four wins and three draws propelled Workington up to ninth in the table (from the relegation zone), they lost their last league match ? at home to Redditch who no doubt felt immense satisfaction in turning the scoreline around just a couple of weeks after receiving their drubbing. The top half teams that have gone to Cumbria this season have all come away with points, with Worksop, Nuneaton and Harrogate all gaining wins, and Lancaster gaining a draw during the Workington resurgence.

They have scored in all bar one home game, and all bar two away games, and have kept two clean sheets at home, and two away. On average, they score 1.4 goals per game at home (1.6 overall), whilst conceding 1.6 goals per game at home (1.7 overall). Their joint top scorers are ex-Celtic forward Ian Arnold, and Craig Johnston, both with five apiece. Both have scored more goals away from home in the league, and both have scored more goals in the second half. Indeed, Workington generally score more goals in the second half, with ten in the first half, and sixteen in the second. Conceding is virtually fifty-fifty. Workington?s most prolific period is around the half time interval with six scored either side of the break, and the last five minutes, when a further six have been knocked in. Their most prone period is around the second half midway point, when seven have been conceded.

Celtic may be coming into the game off the back of three straight wins, but in the league, that equates to two wins in the last four games. We lost our last away game at Kettering, but won the previous one at Redditch. Performances have improved since the Kettering game, as the Cheshire Senior Cup and Trophy matches against Northwich and Hyde respectively show, along with the great win over Hucknall at home. The Hyde match also gave the front players chance to find their shooting boots, and in all competitions, over the last five games, we have scored fifteen goals, conceding nine.

Celtic aren?t the only team to notch up a good win in their last cup match though, with Workington demolishing Northbank Carlisle 7-1 recently, though they drew in the trophy away at Lancaster after a goalless draw, and the replay was called off due to a frozen pitch.

Workington are suffering from injuries currently, and in their last league match, the 2-1 loss at home to Redditch, they lined up as:
1. Adam Collin
2. Mathew Henney
3. Lee Hoolickin
4. Kyle May
5. Alan Gray
6. David Hewson
7. Carl Heiniger
8. Steve Birks
9. Graham Goulding
10. Dan Dillon
11. Craig Johnston

Celtic have recruited Scott Maxfield from Barrow, and he will be available for the match, and we also have the option of giving a league debut to Farrell Kilbane. Paul Pettinger should be okay to play, but we will have to wait and see on Banim, and long term injury Darren Hockenhull is getting close to a return also. In our 2-1 home win over Hucknall, we lined up as:
1. Paul Pettinger
2. Grant Black
3. Mark Barnard
4. Paul Sykes
5. Mark Haran
6. Chris Price
7. Steve Garvey
8. Barrie Keeling
9. Lee Ellington
10. Jody Banim
11. Neil Prince

A win for Celtic could well propel us into the play-off spots, depending on whether Kettering can turn around their recent slump at home to Barrow, and also how Droylsden get on at Lancaster, Hucknall at home to Redditch and Hinckley away at Worksop. It is conceivable that the results could go our way, but even if they don?t, a win would keep us within touching distance of the play-offs, whilst a win for Workington would put them into the top half of the table. Both teams are coming into the game on the back of recent good form, and with Celtic?s away form being only one win, the automated prediction algorithm has gone for a five goal thriller, though it says 3-2 for Workington.
Distance: 157
Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes

From the M60, take M61 (junction 15) to Preston.
Follow the M61 right to the end and join the M6 towards South Lakes.
After about 65 miles on the M6 take Junction 40 onto the A66 (Penrith, North Lakes).
On the roundabout at the end of the slip-road, turn left (exit 1 of 4) onto the A66.
Stay on the A66 for 37 miles (going straight across 4 roundabouts) to a t-junction with the A596 (Bridge Street).
At the roundabout, turn right (exit 3 of 4) onto the A596 (Bridge Street).
After a mile, at the roundabout, turn right (exit 3 of 4) onto A597 (Hill Crest), cross the bridge and the ground is on the left.

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