Preston Grasshoppers head for Hinckley with hope

Hoppers coach Paul Arnold
Hoppers coach Paul Arnold

As the World Cup reaches its climax tomorrow, Preston Grasshoppers head south for the first time this season when they travel to Hinckley for a fixture between clubs which sit side by side in National League Two North.

With both sides on 18 points, 10th-placed Hoppers just have the edge because they have three victories, a draw, four defeats and four bonus points while Hinckley have won three and lost five, collecting six bonus points.

Encouragingly for the visitors, the Midlanders have lost three games on their own patch, but on the other side of the coin, Hoppers have lost twice on their travels.

Paul Arnold’s men are ahead on scoring differential, with minus-17 to Hinckley’s minus-52, and there were two vastly contrasting results last season – Hoppers lost 49-5 in the away game but won 48-19 at home.

There finally seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for Arnold on the injury front. Props Oga Mabaya and Tyler Sloane are scheduled for game time with the second team, as is back Will Davidson, while scrum-half James Gough has been seeing match action on loan at old club Kendal.

But front-rower Noah Miller is still out and threequarter Alex Hurst is not being risked yet after his injury a couple of weeks ago which held up the game at Tynedale for a long spell.

Matt Crow and Tyler Spence return to the bench this week, while the only change to the starting line-up sees Sam Stott back at centre, with James Fitzpatrick and Nick Gregson being unavailable.

With the game between Sedgley Park and Caldy postponed last Saturday, Fylde took their chance to go top of the table. So tomorrow’s visit to the Wirral could be a crucial clash, with four points separating these leading two sides.

Caldy, relegated last season, are on an unbeaten seven-match winning run, while Fylde’s only slip-up in eight games was the home draw with Hoppers.

Vale of Lune have a second successive Saturday off. Last week’s trip to Broughton Park was called off due to a waterlogged pitch and tomorrow is a scheduled blank day for all clubs in North One West.

Hoppers: J Dorrington; Browne, Stott, B Dorrington, Jordan; Prior, Squirrell; Blanchard, Millea, Purcell, Howard, Wallbank, Carlson, Harrison, Lamprey. Replacements: Taylor, Madden, Procter, Crow, Spence.