Celtic are back on the road again on Saturday visiting promotion rivals Harrogate Town (kick off 3pm, there will be a live match centre for this game). Harrogate are currently in fifth in the table, two places and four points above Celtic having played three games more.
Harrogate have not had the best of the last ten games, winning just three in that period (Blyth, Fleetwood and Farsley). They have lost six of their last ten games, and draw the other (3-3 at home to Stafford Rangers). In the same period they have had five home games, of which they have won three. Early season form put them into play-off contention with just two losses in their opening fifteen games.
One of those wins in the early part of the season was a 3-1 win over Celtic, and Harrogate have a very good record against us, with Celtic having not won at Wetherby Road in the last twenty years. Indeed, in Celtic?s last five of out last six visits to the Yorkshire outfit, we have failed to record any goals, with only a 4-3 defeat back in April 2004 a showing of goal scoring from Celtic. Unsurprisingly then, Harrogate have won five and drawn one in our last six visits there, and have even had a good record against us at Bower Fold, winning four and losing four. Our best result against them in their own back yard was a 0-0 draw back in August 2006.
This season?s top scorers for Harrogate are Jamie Smith and Richard Marshall, who have found the net seven times this season. Hot on their heels is Darren Dunning on, with former Celtic front man, James Dean within catching distance on five. Harrogate?s most dangerous period is just after the half hour mark when they have scored twelve of their forty-two goals this season. Defensively they are strong in the first period, with their most vulnerable period coming in the last fifteen minutes when they have conceded ten of their twenty-nine goals against, though ten goals have gone in against them around the hour mark also. Harrogate have kept five clean sheets at home, the last coming with a 1-0 win over Farsley Celtic on Boxing Day. Since that win they have conceded eleven and scored eight, including their most recent result a 4-3 win away at Blyth. They have failed to score in seven matches, but have scored in all bar one match at home, a 3-0 defeat at home to Gainsborough back in November.
Harrogate will be without Denny Ingram through injury, but will be without Darren Dunning and Ryan Toulson due to an accumulation of bookings they are suspended for the match on Saturday. In their most recent match, a 4-3 win away at Blyth that saw them come back from three goals down to win, Harrogate lined up as:
1. Jim Provett
2. Aaron Hardy
3. Jamie Smith
4. Ryan Toulson
5. Justin Whittle
6. Nathan Peat
7. Matty Young
8. Darren Dunning
9. James Dean
10. Danny Holland
11. Richard Marshall
Celtic also have a clean bill of health, but will be without the services of Keith Briggs, who would have been suspended for Tuesday?s visit from Alfreton Town, but with that match, his suspension for an accumulation of bookings will be in effect for the match at Harrogate. Celtic may have one or two players signed in time for the Harrogate match, with a welcome return to Alex Meechan who may be coming in on loan from Altrincham, and an as yet unnamed central defender. In Celtic?s last match, the 4-1 home defeat to Workington, Celtic lined up as:
1. Paul Phillips
2. Ashley Woolliscroft
3. Rhys Meynell
4. Andy Smart
5. Nicky Platt
6. Barrie Keeling
7. Steve Torpey
8. Keith Briggs
9. Matty Barlow
10. Nathan Joynes
11. Richard Battersby
The automated prediction algorithm has suggested a 3-1 win for Celtic on Saturday, given the relative home and away form of the two teams over recent weeks, with Celtic winning their last away match in Solihull. This would be a fantastic result given Celtic?s recent visits to Wetherby Road.
Other matches on Saturday are:
Alfreton Town (6th/38pts) v Farsley Celtic (12th/31pts)
Droylsden (10th/32pts) v Burscough (21st/21pts)
Fleetwood Town (16th/26pts) v Solihull Moors (17th/24pts)
Hinckley United (9th/32pts) v Blyth Spartans (19th/22pts)
Hyde United (20th/22pts) v Redditch United (18th/23pts)
King?s Lynn (14th/28pts) v Gateshead (2nd/47pts)
Stafford Rangers (13th/29pts) v Gainsborough Trinity (8th/36pts)
A win for Celtic would be very difficult on Saturday, but with Gainsborough, Hinckley, Droylsden and Vauxhall all amassed behind Celtic, a win is what we need to avoid dropping to mid-table. In addition, this is a six pointer, with Harrogate four points ahead with three games extra played, we need to win to put ourselves back into the driving seat.