Hoppers ended their losing run with a hard fought 0-0 draw away at Otley.
A game played in atrocious weather conditions and on a boggy pitch ended scoreless, as Preston fought doggedly to keep the hosts at bay.
President of Grasshoppers, Keith Brierley was in shock with the result and said: “In all the years playing and watching, I have never witnessed or been involved in a nil nil, draw. It’s a new one for me.”
Otley were dominant in possession and territory in the first half but could not carve out any clear cut opening despite the away side conceding numerous penalties in their own half.
With underfoot conditions poor, the hosts chose to kick to the corner from penalties instead of taking three points.A strange decision considering that they were making little inroads through the forwards.
A key factor in repelling the attacks of Otley was that of the kicking game of Hoppers. The return of Tom Davidson at fly half created a calmness within the team, with him executing some perfect clearing kicks from deep within his half.
Otley did create an overlap with five minutes of the half remaining, only for great cover defence from Preston thwarting the attack. The hosts dominated territory in the second, However, they could not break down a solid Grasshoppers defensive unit. Even when the away side went down to 13 men.
Toby Harrison was first sent to the bin after being ruled to have a made a high tackle.The decision in the 62nd minute was highly contentious as the Otley player slipped prior to contact.
More injury problems were to follow as Tyler Spence was carried off with an ankle injury. A protective boot was worn after the match as precaution with the player hoping the injury isn’t too serious.
Grasshoppers were down to 13 men in the 70th minute after Referee, Daniel Woods was consulted by one of his assistants. After initially awarding a penalty to Hoppers, he reversed his decision and yellow carded Oliver Trippier for an alleged stamp. The incident was unclear. Ben Smith dragged the attempt at goal wide from the 22m line, leaving the scores at 0-0. The
hosts were camped in Preston territory but were consistently repelled by a solid Hoppers forward pack.
The away side could have won it with the last few plays of the game. With, forward momentum and field position, they managed to carve out two opportunities to attempt a match-winning drop goal.
However, the first attempt was charged down and the second went agonisingly wide of the upright.
Head Coach Paul Arnold, who was on the bench due to unforeseen team issues was massively proud of his team and is looking forward to the local derby match against Fylde next week.