The new Conference North season kicks off on Saturday at 3pm when Hucknall Town are Celtic's first opponents. Hucknall finished 12th last season, 11 points behind Celtic on 55 points.
In their visit to the 'Fold last season saw Celtic take a 2-1 win, during a season in which we were virtually undefeated at home. Indeed, our last ten home matches saw us notch up 9 wins, whilst Hucknall's last ten away trips saw them win just twice, though they managed four draws. The reverse fixture saw Hucknall beat us 2-1.
Their top scorer last season was Robert Gill, who scored ten goals, whilst Lee Ellington was our (and the league's) top scorer. Hucknall had an average goal per game ratio of 1.1 away (1.3 overall), whilst Celtic's was 2.4 goals per game at home (1.8 overall). At the other end, Celtic conceded 1.1 goals per game at home (1.3 overall), whilst Hucknall let in 1.4 goals per game away from home (1.3 overall).
Turning to this season, Celtic's pre-season campaign has seen them lose both the nascent Frank Robinson Memorial Trophy and the long-held Ray Stanley Memorial Shield. Aside from this, Celtic have taken two wins, Woodley and Rossington Main, both away from home, drawing away at Goole and losing to Oldham and Blackburn at home. In the last game, Celtic lost 3-1 to Blackburn, and used it as a chance to run the rule for one last time over the trialists.
Hucknall's last outing in a pre-season friendly was a 3-1 win over Dunkirk, as usual with pre-season friendlies the team was made up of first-teamers and trialists.
Hucknall have been busy in the transfer market this season, and have signed defenders John Burns, Laurie Wilson, Brad Piercewright and Ricky Hanson; a forwards Liam Hearns and Ian Brown and midfielder Paul Dempsey. Kevin Wilson, the manager of Hucknall, is certainly keen to make an impression during his first full season in charge, and this is reflected by the number of signings.
At this stage in the season, it's not possible to do an automated prediction, but the last time we won an opening match was back in 2003, when we beat Gainsborough Trinity, so it could well be a draw, like our last two seasons.