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Match Preview :- Northwich Victoria - Tuesday February 28th, 2006 (19:45:00)
Tuesday sees Celtic visit one of the three teams challenging for top spot and almost certain play-off contenders, Northwich Victoria (kick-off 7:45pm). This is one of our `games in hand` over the teams around us, and as such is vital. Those of a nervous disposition should stop reading now.

Northwich are currently third, seven places and eleven points ahead of Celtic, having played one more game. They are the league?s top scoring team, with sixty-four goals in twenty-eight games; a tally that has been boosted by their last game, the 8-0 demolition of Hednesford Town. This is the league?s highest score line.

Northwich may have drawn their opening game (against us), but they then went on a ten game winning streak that propelled them to the top of the table where they stayed until the end of October. Stafford have been pushing them all the way and after a dip in form that saw them lose four consecutive games, Stafford are now the team in pole position. In their last ten games, the Vics have won four, drawn two and lost four. Hyde and Worcester have both beaten Vics at home recently, but Northwich?s last two games have both been at home, and wins, for the Cheshire side.

In their last six games, they have scored fifteen goals, twelve of which came in the last two games. They have conceded ten goals, five of which came in their 5-2 defeat away at Workington. They have failed to score only three times all season, only once of which was away. They have kept six clean sheets, four at home.

With sixty-four goals, Northwich have the best attack in the league, and it equates to 2.29 goals per game. Celtic are joint sixth with fifty goals, equating to 1.85 goals per game. With thirty-eight goals conceded, Northwich are joint sixth defensively, corresponding to 1.36 goals per game. Celtic are fifth conceding thirty-seven, equating to 1.37 goals per game. Whilst Celtic have the league?s top scorer in Lee Ellington with eighteen goals, Northwich occupy third and fourth spot with John Allan and Paul Brayson on seventeen and sixteen respectively. Michael Carr and Michael Byrne are trailing somewhat on six apiece, despite the latter getting a hat-trick against Hednesford.

Northwich lined up against Hednesford in their last 8-0 win as:
1. Kris Rogers
2. Jon McCarthy
3. Matt Garner
4. Steve Payne
5. Danny Mayman
6. Kieran Charnock
7. Paul Brayson
8. Michael Byrne
9. John Allan
10. Mark Sale
11. Michael Carr

In their last match, Stalybridge drew 1-1 with Moor Green away from home, and lined up as:
1. Paul Pettinger
2. Grant Black
3. Scott Maxfield
4. Mark Barnard
5. Mark Haran
6. Chris Price
7. Steve Garvey
8. Paul Sykes
9. Lee Ellington
10. Jody Banim
11. Neil Prince

Whilst Celtic are not Hednesford, it will require a good performance to break down the invulnerable confidence that the Northwich team will now be feeling. Celtic can look at other meetings this season when we more than matched them in the opening game, drawing 3-3 after conceding a late goal, and then were the first team to beat them at Victoria Stadium when we won 1-0 in the Cheshire Senior Cup.

Celtic should not approach this game with the belief that the game is lost before kick off ? even the prediction algorithm reckons a 2-2 score line. We can get something out of this game, Northwich are not invincible. It will require everybody to be on top of their game. It won?t require a moment of inspiration from any one Celtic player, but instead a solid team performance. There is a lot at stake. Depending on the Alfreton v Harrogate and Kettering v Gainsborough matches, a win could put us in touch with fourth place, using our games in hand. A draw on the other hand, could lift us to seventh, but would leave us able to only tie with Droylsden on points, with a slightly inferior goal difference using our games in hand. A loss would increase the slope up to the play-offs.

In other words, we need something out of the game.
Distance: 32
Time: 45 minutes

Continue around the M60, to junction 4 (M56).
Join the M56.
Stay on the M56 for eight miles leaving junction 7 (M6, A556).
The roundabout may be avoided by using the slip road to turn left onto the A556, towards Northwich and the M6.
Join the A559 (Northwich Road) towards Northwich.
Stay on the A556 for 4 1/2 miles to the roundabout with the M6.
Go straight across the roundabout to stay on the A556.
After 2 3/4 miles, you will reach a large triangular junction.
Bear right, following signs for Wincham onto the A559 (Manchester Road).
After 1/2 a mile there is a crossroads.
Turn right to stay on the A559 (Hall Lane).
After 3/4 a mile there is a crossroads, turn left onto Wincham Lane, and take the next left (after 480 yards) onto Wincham Avenue.
After 450 yards, there is a roundabout, proceed straight across onto Drill Field Way, and the stadium is straight ahead.

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