Match Preview :- Lancaster City - Saturday March 31st, 2007 (15:00:00)
Saturday's visitors are basement team Lancaster for a 3pm kick off. Lancaster are propping up the table on -1 point and have not scored a goal in over 320 minutes of football. They have been in the relegation zone since day one, and have never moved. City have won just twice all season (both away), and drawn three.

One of those draws was against Kettering away from home, a creditable 3-3 draw. They have also drawn away at Redditch (2-2) and at home to Vauxhall (2-2) - their only points at home this season. Lancaster's two wins this season have come at Leigh and Scarborough, back in September. Since their draw at Redditch back in November, Lancaster have not picked up any points at all, and in their last three matches they have failed to score. In their last five away matches, they have scored just twice (one each in their games at Worcester and Droylsden), whilst conceding twenty-one goals.

On average, they have conceded 2.8 goals per game away from home (2.7 overall), whilst scoring 0.8 goals per game (0.7 overall). They are the only team in the league who have conceded more goals than Celtic, and the combined goals conceded for both teams is 165! Much of this run of bad form can be attributed to the current state of affairs at Lancaster, which has seen them lose many of their playing squad (though Ryan Elderton and Neil Uberschar have both agreed to stay on), and have to play youth and local league players. Every team that has come up against them has stated how much passion these players put into a game, and everybody has expected them to win at least one match between their match and the end of the season just down to the effort the players put into each game. They were unlucky not to pick up any points against Redditch and Hucknall recently, and look to be steadily improving, despite their recent hammerings of 6-1 and 4-1 at Droylsden and Worcester respectively.

Their top scorers this season are Ryan Zico Black and Lee Spike. Lancaster's most dangerous period is just before half time when they have scored six goals, whilst conceding is done fairly consistently throughout their matches, though they have conceded thirty-nine in the last half an hour.

Our recent previous meetings with Lancaster have been positive for Celtic, with us winning at Lancaster earlier in the season, and the last time they won, was when they did the double over us in the 03/04 season. A couple of seasons earlier, we beat Lancaster 11-0 in the Peter Swailes Unibond Charity cup match. Another score-line like that would be most welcome, as it would send our currently appalling goal-difference closer to 0. That goal difference is as good as a win to the two teams currently in the relegation zone, Scarborough and Leigh, both of whom are only three points behind us. A win for either of these two teams and a loss for us would see Celtic slip into the bottom three. On Saturday, Leigh are away at Farsley whilst Scarborough are visiting Gainsborough.

Lancaster don't have any suspension or injury worries ahead of the game on Saturday, and lined up in their last match, the narrow 1-0 loss at home to Hucknall as:
1. James Brindle
2. Paul Rigby
3. Neil Marshall
4. Robert Henry
5. Kevin Brown
6. Neil Uberschar
7. Jimmy Love
8. Ryan Elderton
9. Lee Sparks
10. Leon Gierke
11. Aaron Helliwell

Celtic will be without Mark Hume, who had accumulated enough cautions to sit out the next two games (after which, his red card at Hucknall will kick in with another three games). Kevin Parr will be back after his recent suspension. It may also be a home debut for on-loan Oldham Athletic defender Chris Lever, as he made a solid start against Hucknall in the 2-1 loss. In that match, Celtic lined up as:
1. Simon Bishop
2. Grant Black
3. Scott Maxfield
4. Chris Lever
5. Barrie Keeling
6. Ashley Winn
7. Steve Brodie
8. Paul Sykes
9. Mark Hume
10. Matty Barlow
11. James Olsen

We were without Lee Ellington in that match, but he should hopefully have recovered from his tonsillitis in time to play against Lancaster.

It is vital that Celtic get off to a good start in the Lancaster match, because they appear to grow in confidence the longer they go without conceding a goal. Teams that have scored early against them have recorded good score-lines, but those that have struggled early on have beaten them by only the odd goal. More important than this, though is a win. Celtic absolutely must win. Anything else is unthinkable. We cannot afford to let Scarborough and Leigh have even a sniff of a chance of catching us. The remarkable thing about the league this season is that a good win could lift us to fifteenth and put four teams between us and the drop zone, which would look a lot more comfortable. In order to do that, though, the team have to believe in themselves, and their ability and play great football.
Match Sponsor
In Memory of Frank Robinson
Ball Sponsor
Man of the Match Sponsor
Mike and Leslie Elliot
Programme Sponsor