The first of our forthcoming derbies is this Saturday as Celtic entertain Droylsden with a 3pm kick off. Droylsden are right behind Celtic in the table, two points and two places behind with a game in hand, so this is a real six-pointer as well as a derby.
Droylsden won the corresponding fixture last year, with Jody Banim on the score sheet, and the reverse fixture was a dour 0-0 draw. Looking back through previous league meetings (conveniently forgetting the rain lashed League Cup exit a few years back), Droylsden have beaten Celtic just two other times, both at home. Celtic have won five out of the seven meetings at Bower Fold, drawing just once back in 2000 with another 0-0 draw. At Droylsden, Celtic have won one and drawn four.
Back to the present, and Droylsden have not won away from home since August, when they beat Worcester 2-1, with Banim again on the score sheet for them. They have, however, drawn their last two away games, with both Lancaster City and Harrogate Town coming back to snatch draws. Prior to that, they lost at Kettering, the game before Celtic went there and lost, though unlike Celtic, they only conceded one and failed to score. Out of their nine away games this season, they have taken eleven points from twenty-seven, mainly thanks to their penchant for drawing (five in all).
Droylsden have not had much problem in finding the net, only failing to score in just one game, the away game at Kettering; they even managed to put two past the Stafford defence. Jody Banim is still in their top three goal scorers though, with four goals to his name, whilst Kevin Rapley and Robert Talbort are ahead of him with six and five respectively, and Terry Fearns is rapidly catching them all with three goals since his five figure signing a couple of months back. Rapley and Fearns were both on target in their last game, the 2-2 draw at Lancaster.
On average, they score 1.2 goals per game away from home (1.6 overall), whilst conceding 1.4 (1.4 overall). They score most frequently just before half time (six goals), and on seventy minutes (eight goals), whilst their second half performance is where most of their goals against occur. Though they have conceded four just before half time, they have conceded eight around the hour mark, and a further five in the final few minutes of a game, as they did at Lancaster last Saturday.
Celtic are coming into the game on the back of two good league wins, away at Workington and at home to Hucknall Town. We have won five of our eight home games, and have taken seventeen points from a possible twenty-four. A vast improvement over last season! Our top scorer is Lee Ellington on thirteen league goals, though Neil Prince and Paul Sykes are hot on his heels with six apiece. Our big signing, Jody Banim, has yet to impact the Golden Boot table the way he did at Droylsden, though his set-up play has resulted in the top three all benefiting. What could be a more perfect time to put some pressure on the Golden Boot than Saturday, against his former club?
At home, we?re scoring an average of 2.4 goals per game, and conceding 1.5, scoring and conceding fairly evenly between the two halves, with no one high spot. We have scored in every home league game this season, but we have yet to keep a clean sheet in those games. Weighing all this up, the automated prediction algorithm has gone for a 2-1 Celtic win.
Droylsden lined up against Lancaster as:
1. Paul Phillips
2. Jimmy Williams
3. Simon Sturdy
4. Carl Ruffer
5. Craig Robinson
6. Steve Brodie
7. Chris O?Brien
8. Gareth Morris
9. Terry Fearns
10. Kevin Rapley
11. Chris Denham
Jody Banim was rested at Workington to ensure that he was fully fit for the up coming derby games, and Darren Hockenhull made the bench, both of whom may start this game. Against Workington we lined up as:
1. Paul Pettinger
2. Barrie Keeling
3. Mark Barnard
4. Farrell Kilbane
5. Mark Haran
6. Chris Price
7. Steve Garvey
8. Paul Sykes
9. Lee Ellington
10. Scott Maxfield
11. Neil Prince
Celtic will be aware of the importance of this match on many levels. A win would set the team up nicely for the following weekend when Droylsden return in the Trophy match, as well as putting a five point gap between the two teams, and possibly putting Celtic into the play-off spots possibly level on points with fourth place Hucknall (depending on how the Hucknall v Lancaster, Harrogate v Stafford and Workington v Kettering matches go). A draw would not be disastrous, but a loss would cause Droylsden and Celtic to switch places. With Stafford a difficult place to visit and Kettering?s away form suffering at the moment, a play off spot is well within grasp for Celtic.
Chris Denham will probably start for Droylsden, and we well know his capabilities. Conversely, Jody Banim will probably start for Celtic, and they well know his capabilities. One thing is certain ? it will be an interesting match even if it is goalless.