Match Preview :- Burscough - Tuesday January 22nd, 2008 (19:45:00)
Will it be third time lucky for this twice postponed match against Burscough on Tuesday (Kick off 7:45pm)? Burscough are now tenth in the table, ten points and five places behind Celtic having played a game more. With Harrogate the only team above us to be playing midweek, there is a chance for Celtic to move up yet another place, and a win by four clear goals would put us above Telford. Due to the previous postponements, entry to this match is free.

With only two wins in the last ten games, the Linnets have fallen from their play-off spot to their current tenth, picking up three draws along the way and losing five times. One of those draws was their last match, a 2-2 home draw with Solihull Moors. Their wins have been impressive though, the last one against high-flying Barrow, and the previous one a 2-1 victory over Harrogate (both at home). Their last away win was at the start of November, when they beat Gainsborough 1-0.

In their last five away matches, Burscough have scored just two goals, with no goals at all in their last three, losing away at Vauxhall, Hinckley and Southport. Over the season, though, they have scored an average of 1.3 goals per game, whilst conceding 1.6 goals per game away from home (1.4 overall). The average time of their first goal is 42 minutes, whilst their average first concession has also been 42 minutes. Burscough have kept two clean sheets on the road (Hucknall and Gainsborough), whilst failing to score five away games. Their top scorer is Ciaran Kilheeney, whose eleven goals put him in joint fourth in the league. He is head and shoulders above his nearest rival, Neil Robinson on four goals. Whilst Burscough?s thirty-two goals have come fairly evenly between the two halves, their most dangerous period is the first twenty minutes when they have scored seven. Most of their thirty-four conceded goals have come in the first half with just twelve in the second half. Their most vulnerable period is between fifteen and thirty minutes, when they have conceded ten goals.

Discounting the eight minutes played for the original date of this fixture, the last time we met was in Celtic?s first away game of the season, when we visited Victoria Park and came away 2-0 winners. The last time Burscough beat Celtic at Bower Fold was in Celtic?s last game of the Treble winning season, when we had just won the league, and the partying Celtic squad were beaten 2-0. Their last competitive visit to Bower Fold was in 03/04 season in the Unibond, when Burscough held us to a 1-1 draw, whilst earlier in 2003 in the 02/03 season Celtic recorded their last victory over Burscough in the league, running out 1-0 winners.

The automated prediction algorithm has suggested a tense encounter with a 3-2 score line.

Burscough will be without Alan Moogan, who is serving the last game of a three match ban, whilst their injury crisis of recent weeks appears to be easing. Earl Davis may well be back in the side after a knee problem, whilst Alan Smart made it through 67 minutes in their 2-2 draw with Solihull. Neil Fitzhenry looks set for a return, as does Mike Tomlinson; however, ex-Celtic midfield player Chris Price looks set to be out injured. Farrell Kilbane got a red card in their last game, but that suspension does not kick in until Saturday.

In their 2-2 draw at home to Solihull, Burscough lined up as:
1. Tony McMillan
2. Brian Moogan
3. Matty McGinn
4. Adam Flynn
5. Farrell Kilbane
6. Paul Grogan
7. Matty Parry
8. Dave Roberts
9. Alan Smart
10. Ciaran Kilheeney
11. Craig Noone

Ashley Winn?s suspension for accumulated cautions does not kick in until Saturday?s match away at Barrow, and so will be available for Tuesday?s match, whilst Barrie Keeling?s broken arm will be keeping him out for a further three or four weeks. Steve Payne limped off in the opening minutes of Celtic?s 1-0 win away at Kettering (replaced admirably by Garry Burke), and is unlikely to feature against Burscough.

In Celtic?s last match, we lined up as:
1. Paddy Gamble
2. Ashley Woolliscroft
3. Andy Smart
4. Steve Payne
5. Ashley Winn
6. Paul Sykes
7. Lee Ellington
8. Terry Barwick
9. Chris Hall
10. Matty Barlow
11. Alex Meechan

Celtic have won their last seven consecutive matches, and their last eight league encounters. We have taken some big scalps along the way, beating Boston, Hyde (twice), Harrogate and (lastly) Kettering. Half of those matches have been away from home, so Celtic know that they need fear no team in this league, and we go into the match as favourites. However, Burscough are a good team, they won promotion on merit last season, and have had a solid first season in the Conference North. Steve Burr will no doubt keep the players? feet firmly on the ground for this match, there is no time for complacency.

There are some tough games coming up, all against top ten sides, Burscough, Barrow, Nuneaton, Harrogate and Southport in the next five matches. Celtic will need all of the confidence taken from the last eight games and apply it to winning the next eight. The team is more than capable of beating any team in this league, we just have to do it.
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