Preston Grasshoppers’ spirit earns them derby draw at Fylde

Action from Preston Grasshoppers' draw at Fylde (photo: Mike Craig)
Action from Preston Grasshoppers' draw at Fylde (photo: Mike Craig)

Fylde 24 Hoppers 24

A remarkable second-half performance full of character saw Preston Grasshoppers snatch a late draw against old rivals Fylde to bag their first points of the National League Two North campaign.

Seven points behind at half-time, Hoppers survived 30 minutes of desperate defence in their own 22 – and two yellow cards – to draw level with two tries in the last 10 minutes.

Head coach Paul Arnold said: “I’m really proud of them. I thought their heads were down after the first 20 minutes, but all credit to them for coming back and forcing the draw. It almost feels like a win.”

Making too many mistakes in the first half, the visitors were up against it almost from the start and coughed up turnover ball to give Fylde field position from which Scott Rawlings crashed over after just five minutes.

Greg Smith converted, but Hoppers got points on the board when home full-back Tom Carleton was sinbinned under his own posts after a burst by Tyler Spence, and Jake Squirrell kicked the penalty.

Smith quickly cancelled that out with a kick of his own and, when Dave Fairbrother was held just short of the line, Ben Gregory was awarded a try after consultation with the touch judge.

Smith converted, but Hoppers finally raised their attacking game, although they wasted three good chances with mistakes at line-outs in threatening positions. But they did cut the deficit to seven points when they eventually won clean line-out ball to allow Matt Lamprey to burst over for a try converted by Squirrell.

Preston were on the back foot from the start of the second half and had to throw everything into repelling sustained assaults on their line, albeit at the cost of yellow cards for Sam Stott and Noah Miller.

So good was their defence, however, that Fylde could only capitalise once on the extra man, Tom Grimes going over for a try again converted by Smith.

All looked lost for Hoppers and indeed they spent the next 15 minutes still with their backs to the wall.

But a break by replacement Nick Gregson, making his debut, turned the tide and it was Fylde’s turn to try and soak up the pressure.

First another replacement Ben Dorrington scrambled over from close range and then, with stoppage time looming, lock Ryan Carlson made the line under a pile of bodies.

Gregson had an easy conversion for Dorrington’s try, but the second was much trickier for the ex-rugby league man. Nevertheless, he coolly slotted it and Hoppers held out for the last few minutes for a famous draw.