Dew’s new goal

Lewis Allen

Lewis Allen

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When this season’s fixtures were released, Preston Grasshoppers head coach Garth Dew targeted all four games in September as winnable.

That ambition fell at the first fence with a home defeat by Hull.

But Hoppers have followed up with back-to-back victories – albeit after a dressing room roasting at half-time last Saturday – and have high hopes of another win tomorrow when they head for Stockport.

Their opponents have comprehensively lost all three games after promotion to National League Two North.

Hoppers, on the other hand, lie fourth after those two wins out of three.

There was a high-scoring thriller at Stockport two seasons ago when a last-minute penalty gave Hoppers a 48-47 victory over the side that went on to be relegated.

A shuffle in the visitors’ back division sees Lewis Allen move to full-back, Phil Baines switch to the wing and Tom Hurst start at centre after being a replacement last week.

Phil Mills is the starting hooker this week, with Brad Tuff on the bench, where Killian Wallace replaces Rich Morton.

Vale of Lune and Wilmslow fought out two close games in North One West last season – a 21-21 draw in Cheshire and a 29-27 home win for Vale – but the Lancaster club has made the better start this time round.

Although they slipped to their first defeat in three games last weekend, they are second in the table, while Wilmslow are ninth following one home defeat –to Kendal – and one victory and one loss on the road.

Vale’s only away fixture so far brought a win at 
Eccles.

With three-quarter Ian Bird suffering a pulled muscle, there are changes in the Vale back line.

Scott Manning comes in at full-back, Tom Ball and Chris Weeks are the wingers and David Haigh partners Ben Dorrington at centre.

Billy Swarbrick starts at scrum-half and Harry Fellows returns to the second row.

Kendal went top of North One West last week when they made it three victories out of three.

Tomorrow, they visit Cumbrian neighbours Penrith, who are third after two home wins and an away defeat following relegation last season.

Fylde’s rash of London opponents continues with a trip to Esher, following games against Blackheath and Rosslyn Park.

Fylde face a number of late fitness checks among the forwards, but look set to name the same starting line-up in the backs.

Hoppers: Allen; Baines, Hurst, Ward, Kendall; Davies, Kindred; Madden, Mills, Altham, Tomlinson, Murray, Lees, Walker, Taylor. Replacements: Tuff, Irving, Wallace, Whyte, Embleton.

Vale: Manning; Weeks, Haigh, Dorrington, Ball; Lomas, Swarbrick; Hesketh, Berry, Moreira, 
Charnley, Fellows, D Baines, Ackers, Wallbank.