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Match Preview :- Hinckley United - Tuesday March 3rd, 2009 (19:45:00)
On Tuesday night, Celtic will play host to Hinckley United for this Conference North clash (kick off 7:45pm ? there will be a live match centre for this game). Hinckley are currently ninth in the table on forty points, two places and six points behind Celtic.

After a good start to the season that saw them reach third, a run of five games without a win (including four straight defeats) have seen them drop down the table, though in recent matches they have turned this around, and have lost just once in the last six games. They have drawn their last three away games, holding Southport and Harrogate to draws, their most recent match a 2-2 draw at Harrogate, scoring twice in as many minutes. Their last win was a 4-0 hammering of Stafford Rangers in Hinckley on Monday.

Our last meeting with Hinckley was back in September when we visited Hinckley and came away 1-0 winners. We are something of a bogey team to Hinckley, and have won seven of the last eleven meetings, drawing three times and losing once. Hinckley?s only win over Celtic came back in January 2005, when they visited Bower Fold and won 2-0. They have held us to three draws at Bower Fold, meaning Celtic?s only win over Hinckley was Hinckley?s last visit here in September 2007, when we won 2-1.

Hinckley have a good defensive record, with just thirty goals conceded all season, putting them fourth in the defensive table, and they have kept ten clean sheets this season, four of which were away, and the last of which was against Stafford at home, their last away clean sheet the 0-0 draw at Southport. Their most dangerous player this season is Andy Hall, with ten goals, putting him joint ninth in the overall league goal scorers? chart. His closest rival is Adam Webster on seven. On average they score 1.4 goals per game away (1.5 overall) and concede 1.2 goals per game away (1.1 overall). Although they score fairly evenly throughout the game, their most dangerous period is around the hour mark when they have scored nine of their forty-one goals this season; whilst their most vulnerable period is the seventy minute period, where they have conceded eight of their thirty goals. With only a third of their goals conceded in the first half, Celtic will be up against it if they are to get off to a good start.

Hinckley currently have a transfer embargo in place, so have not brought in any new faces. They will be without the services of Craig McIlwain, who is serving a match ban for an accumulation of cautions. Leigh Platnauer is doubtful with a stomach strain, and Richard Lavery and Alex Taylor were both substituted off through injury in their last match against Harrogate. In that match, that finished 2-2, Hinckley lined up as:
1. Chris MacKenzie
2. Dominic Roma
3. Conner Franklin
4. Richard Lavery
5. Craig McIlwain
6. Stuart Giddings
7. Andy Hall
8. Andy Gooding
9. Adam Webster
10. Andy Taylor
11. Callum Lloyd

Celtic will be without Andy Smart who is having an ankle operation, whilst Alex Meechan has returned to Altrincham at the end of his loan spell. Lee Ellington came off the bench and Terry Barwick?s suspension has finished. In the last match, the 1-0 win over Redditch, continuing an amazing away record (with Michael Bowler scoring on his first start), Celtic lined up as:
1. Paul Phillips
2. Ashley Woolliscroft
3. Rhys Meynell
4. Barrie Keeling
5. Michael Bowler
6. Paul Sykes
7. Steve Torpey
8. Keith Briggs
9. Alex Meechan
10. Matty Barlow
11. Richard Battersby

The automated prediction algorithm is going for a 1-1 draw for this match, as the two teams cannot be separated, with Celtic?s recent home form remarkably similar to Hinckley?s recent away form. Hopefully, Celtic can produce the kind of form that has seen them keep five consecutive clean sheets away from Bower Fold, and win a third game at home this season. Depending on Alfreton?s result at home to Stafford, a win could well propel Celtic back into the top five. Alfreton are now the only team in the top five we can catch with our games in hand, so we would require the other four to start dropping points if we are to climb higher than fifth.
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