Trio face table-top outfits

Luke Proctor is back for Hoppers
Luke Proctor is back for Hoppers
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By a strange coincidence, Preston Grasshoppers, Vale of Lune and Fylde all find themselves facing the top 
side in their league this weekend.

Hoppers are the only one of the three to be playing at home – against runaway National Two North leaders Macclesfield.

The hosts hope to welcome back lock John McKenzie and No.8 Luke Proctor, who missed last week’s draw at Sale. There will be a late decision on the make-up of the bench.

Macclesfield have won 13 games out of 16 this season, with six victories out of eight on the road. They have 14 bonus points, the same margin by which they top the table, and are the leading scorers, with 538.

Hoppers are 11th after six wins, two draws and seven defeats. But they are nine points above the relegation zone and, in a packed part of the table, only two points off eighth place.

At home, they have won their last two games to lift their Lightfoot Green record to three victories, a draw and two defeats.

After suffering relegation from National League One in April, Macclesfield defeated Hoppers 31-3 in Cheshire early this season.

Vale of Lune make the short trip to Kirkby Lonsdale in North One West, for only their second game since November 21, due to postponements and the extended end-of-year break.

Lock Alex Baines returns from injury to join the 18 who did duty in the commendably close defeat by Kendal last time out. Winger Michael Forrest is expected to get another run after a good debut against the Cumbrians.

Kirkby Lonsdale have won 12. Drawn one and lost only once this season, with a home record of six straight victories.

Fylde head to Richmond, having won two and drawn one of their most recent away games.

They make three changes from the side which suffered late defeat by Hartpury College last Saturday. Warren Spragg comes in on the wing, Tom Burtonwood hooks and Dominic Moon starts in the back row.

Richmond head the table with 13 victories and three defeats.

Hoppers: S Taylor; Jordan, Woof, Ward, Zavallis-Roebuck; M Murray, Whyte; Madden, Holmes, Altham, McKenzie, A Murray, Napier, Lees, Proctor. Replacements (from): C Taylor, Mabaya, Dew, Tomlinson, Birchall-Feeney, Viney, Forster.

Vale (from): Owens, Birchall, Macluskie, Higgins, Forrest, Bird, Dorrington, Dobson, Cowey, D Baines, Pillow, Yates, A Baines, Crookall, Foxcroft, Robinson, Powers, Ayrton, S Wallbank.

Fylde: Dorrington; Spragg, Briers, S Rawlings, Brennand; Johnson, Nicholls; Birchall, Burtonwood, Lewis, Griffiths, G Rawlings, Moon, Goodman, Fairbrother. Replacements: Lavelle, Vernon, Beaumont, Arnold, Bingham.