Preston Grasshoppers are having a month to forget

Ally Murray returns for Hoppers after a broken hand
Ally Murray returns for Hoppers after a broken hand

November is turning into a month to forget for Preston Grasshoppers – and there are still two tough weekends to negotiate.

They have lost all three games so far this month, without even picking up a single bonus point, and that has dropped them perilously close to the relegation zone.

Only the fact that they have won one more game than Hull keeps them above the third-from-bottom Humbersiders, with both on 18 points.

Bonus points have become a major issue for Hoppers, with just two for scoring four tries and two for losing by fewer than eight points in their tally of three victories, one draw and seven defeats.

Before making the long trek to Luctonians next weekend, Hoppers host Loughborough Students tomorrow.

They are in seventh place in National League Two North with 31 points after being relegated last season.

A crumb of comfort for the hosts tomorrow may be that the Students have won only one of five away from home.

Hoppers welcome back scrum-half James Gough for the first time this season and he will partner Ben Dorrington at half-back. There is also a welcome return for Ally Murray at lock after his broken hand.

Chris Taylor starts at hooker, with Paul Millea on the bench, and Sam Stott rejoins the threequarter line.

After last week’s ninth victory, to go with one draw and one defeat, Fylde remain a point ahead of second-placed Caldy, who still have a game in hand.

Tomorrow, Hull come to Ansdell with a record so far of two victories, two draws and seven defeats. Fylde have won their last four at home after that opening draw with Hoppers.

Vale of Lune play only their third away game of the North One West campaign when they travel to Birkenhead Park – they have lost the other two.

Their overall total of four victories and five defeats leaves them in 10th place.

Vale have lost Andy Powers to a hamstring injury but impressive centre Michael Forrest is available again.

Hoppers: Gregson; J Dorrington, W Davidson, Stott, Browne; B Dorrington,, Gough; Miller, Taylor, Blanchard, Murray, Howard, Wallbank, Carlson, Lamprey. Replacements: Mabaya, Millea, Harrison, Squirrell, Hurst.

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