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Match Preview :- Barrow - Tuesday April 25th, 2006 (19:45:00)
The final home game of the season is upon us, and what a cracker it is set up to be. Barrow are the visitors, managed by ex-Celtic manager Phil Wilson, with Celtic requiring a two goal margin in order to go into the Droylsden game requiring only a one-goal win for a play-off place. Barrow?s season is effectively over, as they are currently fourteenth, with their highest possible placing being twelfth, and their lowest eighteenth. They are seven places and sixteen points behind Celtic.

It?s not been a good season for Barrow, until October, they were an inform team, and looking good for a play-off spot. Celtic visited on their last inform game, and they beat us 4-2. October saw them lose four on the trot, and fail to get a win for two months, until they beat Kettering Town away, and they had to wait until the end of February for their next home win, beating Droylsden and Harrogate at Holker Street. Their last away win was at the start of January when they put three without reply past Hednesford, though they have drawn three of their last five away matches, with Stafford the last to beat them on the road at the start of April. The away draws since the start of the year have been with Hyde, Moor Green, Workington and Leigh.

Barrow lost their last match 3-0, with Nuneaton the visitors to Holker Street. Goals have somewhat dried up for the Cumbrian outfit of late, with nine scored in the last ten matches, failing to score in half of them. They have kept four clean sheets over that period also, meaning that they have failed to score in nine matches overall and kept six clean sheets. So their defence has improved under Phil Wilson, but they?re not scoring as many.

Most of those goals have been scored by Gavin Knight, whose ninetieth minute strike in their last win at home to Hucknall Town, was his seventeenth of the campaign, putting him joint sixth in the overall league goal-scorers table. He is Barrow?s only top-twenty entry. Celtic have three in the top twenty, Ellington, Sykes and Prince. Northwich are the only other team with three in the top twenty, and it?s for this reason that Celtic have the third best attack in the league at the moment.

Neil Tarrant is the closest to Knight, but on seven goals, he isn?t going to take the Barrow golden boot off Knight this season. Three of Knight?s goals came against us, so to add to all the other reasons Celtic have for winning this match, there is the element of revenge as well.

Though Barrow have conceded roughly equally throughout their games this season, they do have a cluster of goals scored around the interval and just before full time, with over half of their goals coming in these two periods. On average, away from home, Barrow score 1.1 goals per game (1.5 overall), whilst conceding 1.6 goals per game.

The Celtic game is Barrows last chance to take all six points off a team this season, something that they have only done once (against Hednesford) this season. Hopefully Celtic can stay switched on for the full ninety minutes to ensure that Hednesford remains the only six points that Barrow have taken this season.

In Barrow?s last match, the 3-0 defeat at home to Nuneaton, they lined up as:
1. Simon Bishop
2. Steve Flitcroft
3. Steve Ridley
4. James Cotterill
5. Jon Smith
6. Graham Anthony
7. Stuart Howson
8. Mike Rushton
9. Carl Heiniger
10. Gavin Knight
11. James Olsen

Celtic will be without the services of Kevin Parr who tore ankle ligaments in Celtic?s last game, the 5-1 win over Redditch. In that match, we lined up as:
1. Paul Pettinger
2. Grant Black
3. Scott Maxfield
4. Barrie Keeling
5. Mark Barnard
6. Paul Sykes
7. James Turley
8. Kevin Parr
9. Lee Ellington
10. Jody Banim
11. Neil Prince

Now is the time for the players to show what they are made of. A good win over Barrow and a minimum of seventh is guaranteed ? a vast improvement over the past couple of seasons. What it also means is that we will go into the final game of the season knowing that we are three games away from a place in the Conference National, and it can be viewed as a knock-out competition with Celtic drawn away in all three games. It?s so close now, it?s tangible, but it starts against Barrow, anything other than a win, and it?s goodnight.
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