Paul Arnold demanding a response from Preston Grasshoppers

After last week’s 27-10 home defeat to Chester, Preston Grasshoppers head coach Paul Arnold says there couldn’t be a better fixture for a “backlash” performance than tomorrow’s visit to promotion-chasing Caldy.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 15th November 2019, 6:00 am
Action from last Saturday's home defeat by Chester (photo: Mike Craig)
Action from last Saturday's home defeat by Chester (photo: Mike Craig)

After being relegated last season, the Cheshire club are second in National League Two North, one point behind Fylde but with a game in hand.

They have won all nine outings this season and racked up more than 350 points.

So Hoppers will be under no illusions about the task ahead this weekend, especially after what will have been some forceful home truths at training from the coaches.

Arnold threatened changes this week and he has shaken up most of the back division, as well as shuffling the pack slightly.

Alex Hurst starts at full-back and only winger Jacob Browne retains his place in the threequarters, with Nick Gregson switched from centre to fly-half.

Jordan Dorrington, on the wing, and centres James Fitzpatrick and Will Davidson all return.

Up front, Noah Miller is back at prop as Hoppers ease Oga Mabaya back into full-time action, and Luke Procter starts at lock with Sam Wallbank switching to the back row. Flanker Toby Harrison and winger Tyler Spence drop down to the bench.

Hoppers have lost three in a row away from home after the draw at Fylde and overall stand on three victories, a draw and six defeats. That leaves them 13th in the table, just above the relegation zone.

Leaders Fylde, meanwhile, make the long trip to Luctonians to take on the club second from bottom. Fylde have won four in a row at Ansdell since that draw with Hoppers and have just one defeat in their 10 games to date.

North One West pacesetters Wilmslow are the visitors to Vale of Lune this weekend and bring with them a record of seven victories and two defeats. Both clubs were relegated last season, after a 27-19 home defeat for Vale and a 7-7 draw at Wilmslow.

Michael Forrest is unavailable and Charlie Lomas is injured. But Billy Swarbrick is back at scrum-half, while Al Crookall and Alfie Bolton are drafted into the threequarter line and ex-KGS pupil Blake Snell makes a first appearance among the replacements.

Vale’s game at Broughton Park, postponed last month, has been rescheduled for November 30.

Hoppers: Hurst; J Dorrington, Fitzpatrick, W Davidson, Browne; Gregson, Squirrell; Blanchard, Millea, Miller, Procter, Howard, Wallbank,Carlson, Lamprey. Replacements: Madden (or Purcell), Taylor, Harrison, B Dorrington, Spence.

Vale: Eastwood; Fern, Higginson, Crookall, Bolton; Briggs, Swarbrick; Branford, Dokter, Pillow, Fellows, Cvijanovic, Powers, Ayrton, Robinson. Replacements: Kyle, Snell, Hunt.