Saturday sees Celtic face Hyde United in the FA Trophy with a 3pm kick-off. The Tigers are currently twentieth, ahead of Alfreton on goals-for only, but only one point from safety in the relegation zone behind Leigh RMI and Worcester.
Over the past five years, Celtic have played Hyde eight times, and won every game both home and away, scoring twenty three goals, conceding four. Indeed, over the past fifteen years, Hyde have won two of the fifteen games. The past three meetings have been in the Ray Stanley Memorial Trophy, a Hyde instigated cup that they have yet to win. The last meeting in the league saw Celtic defeat the Tigers 6-0 at Bower Fold, making an excellent start to 2003. Hyde?s last victory over Celtic was last century (1999), which makes it sound even longer ago!
That is history now, though, and Hyde are going to be looking to break this duck and progress in the Trophy at Celtic?s expense. Something that they may be capable of, despite only two wins so far in the league this season ? both over Gainsborough. Although Celtic will be coming into the game as favourites, Celtic?s away form this season has not been the best, with only one win, and the automated prediction algorithm has suggested a 2-2 draw ? sending the game into a replay, where automated prediction is going for a 3-1 to Celtic. Hyde?s home form reads like Celtic?s away form, with only one win all season, in mid-September against Gainsborough that they won 2-0.
They have had four draws at home, their last game at Ewen Fields seeing them lose ground at the end of the match against Leigh RMI to register a 3-3 scoreline. Indeed, they do not have any problems finding the back of the net, scoring at least one goal in every home game this season, and only failing to score twice away, against the tight defences of Nuneaton and Harrogate. It is in defence where Hyde are struggling, with only Gainsborough thus far unable to score anything past them, giving Hyde two clean sheets.
Late goals against have been something of a Hyde speciality this season, with ten conceded goals in the last five minutes. Twenty-one of their conceded thirty goals this season have come in the second half, with twice as many goals conceded at home than away. The goals-for column has seen them register five goals in the opening ten minutes, with another four just after half time, and a further four right at the death. As with the conceding though, over half of their goals scored have come in the second period. Ex-Celtic forward Matty McNeil is their lead scorer this season, with six goals to his name, four of which he scored at home. This puts him joint seventh in the overall league scorers? chart, level with Neil Prince. He is Hyde?s only entry in the top twenty, but Celtic have four in that list, with Paul Sykes? goal on Saturday putting him level with Jody Banim at joint seventeenth, and Lee Ellington one goal off the top in second.
Celtic?s attack is one of the best in the league, fourth best in fact, with thirty goals, an average of 1.8 per game. Hyde?s goal-per-game ratio is 1.5 (1.7 at home). Conceding-wise, Hyde are leaking 2.2 goals per game at home (1.9 overall), to Celtic?s 1.7 away (1.6 overall). Celtic have scored roughly equally between the two halves, but have got about a third of their goals in the last twenty minutes.
Hyde?s poor start to the season could be down to their injury list, which is quite long. John O?Kane, Dale Johnson, Nicky Clee, Nicky Hill, Danny Caldecott, Lincoln Adams and John Gaynor are all highly unlikely to face Celtic, with Steve Brackenridge and Gerry Harrison having to take fitness tests. This is stretching Hyde?s squad somewhat. Celtic by comparison have the odd knock, but are only really missing Darren Hockenhull.
Such is Hyde?s injury crisis that they have taken James Barrow on-loan from Bury, Mike Flynn on loan from Accrington, and signed Carlos Meakin from Woodley Sports.
In their recent defeat at the hands of Hinckley, Hyde lined up as:
1. Mark Westhead
3. Chris Lynch
4. Paul Jones
6. Carlos Meakin
7. Steve Brackenridge
8. Phil Salt
9. Neil Tolson
10. Jamie Milligan
11. Matty McNeil
Celtic?s recent win, their second on the trot against top-half teams, saw them line up as:
1. Paul Pettinger
2. Grant Black
3. Mark Barnard
4. Mark Haran
5. Paul Sykes
6. Chris Price
7. Steve Garvey
8. Barrie Keeling
9. Lee Ellington
10. Jody Banim
11. Neil Prince
With this being a cup game, the form book goes out of the window ? the past five years will mean nothing once the whistle blows. Hopefully Kev Parr can explain to the team just how much this means to the supporters, and if we play like they have done in recent games (Kettering excluded), then we can win.