After dumping holders Team Northumbria out of the League Cup in extra time, Allotment will fancy their chances when they return to Northern League action against Teesside outfit Thornaby F.C. on their own turf.
The impressive victory against Division One opposition has extended Allotment’s unbeaten run to nine games in all competitions. Paul Stoneman’s side are in rampant form, and could be on course to pick up some silverware should their streak continue.
The Celtic player-manager will hope an almost full contingent available for tonight’s game. Dean Lee has returned from a vacation in Catalonia, and will expect to build on his 32 appearances this season. The game may come a little too soon for fellow winger Kallum McGlen as he continues his rehabilitation after a ligament injury. Right-winger Tony Lancaster missed the victory over Team North, but may return to the squad. If not, two-goal hero Chris Douglas could start in a more attacking role. First-team regulars Stephen Little, Sean Reid and David Dormand are in line to regain their starting berths, but David Henderson will miss today’s clash, as he starts a three-match ban following his dismissal at Esh Winning.
In stark contrast to Allotment, today’s visitors have not tasted victory in their last three games. With 28 points under their belt, and eight points between them and the relegation places, Thornaby F.C. are already on track to build upon last season’s 19th-placed finish. The Teessiders’ form has been inconsistent of late, having picked up ten points from a possible 27 since the turn of the year. Neil Radigan’s men have only picked up back-to-back wins twice this season, and have struggled to put together a solid run, despite displaying brief glimpses of potential against the likes of Stokesley and Washington.
The Blues have, however, played better on the road than they have at Teesdale Park, picking up six wins and two draws on their travels across the North East. However, home or away, only two of their victories have been over top half opposition.
Key to their efforts will be imposing forward Gary Mitchell. The striker has fifteen goals to his name for the Teessiders this season, but has not found the net in the last three games, and will be looking to get back to his old scoring ways today. Fellow attacker Rocky Andrews missed the narrow loss at Chester-le-Street, but may bring his creative impetus back to the side.
Thornaby have shipped 68 goals this season – two of which came in a 2-0 defeat to Allotment in October. The Blues will be desperate to put in a better showing in today’s reverse fixture. However, the ever-dangerous Celtic have an impressive array of attacking options available to them, and should have enough firepower to overcome the Blues this afternoon.