Dew not worried over final run-in

Sam Kendall makes a welcome return to the Hoppers' fold
Sam Kendall makes a welcome return to the Hoppers' fold
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Heading into the final straight, Preston Grasshoppers need three bonus-point victories from their last four games to ensure that they stay in National League Two North next season.

But they have a chance to make their task easier this weekend when they host Stourbridge, while third-from-bottom Hull face a huge hurdle at promotion-chasing Ampthill.

Defeat for the Humbersiders and victory for Hoppers could widen the gap between them from six to 10 or 11 points – with Preston due to visit Hull on the last day of the campaign.

Hoppers head coach Garth Dew said: “We still have a lot of work to do, and there’s still pressure on us, but I’m not concerned.

“We just need to address the fundamental issues, push on and finish the season well.”

Stourbridge come to Lightfoot Green in 10th place, two positions and six points ahead of their hosts.

Sam Kendall, absent from Hoppers’ first team since early in the season, comes in on the wing.

Prop Dan Madden and flanker Will Lees are in the starting line-up this week.

In North One West, with Vale of Lune bidding to leapfrog Widnes.

Vale lie seventh, one place and three points behind Widnes, whom they visit tomorrow.

Neither side is in a great run of form but Widnes have slipped a couple of place since the end of January, thanks to a run of six successive defeats – three of them at home.

Vale again ring the changes, with recent second-team regular Sean Coulshed making his debut at full-back for the unavailable Matt Humpage.

Ross Pillow, a benchman last week, starts at prop, with Andy Powers switching to the second row, where Ben Charnley returns after three matches out injured.

In National League One, Fylde look certain to finish fourth, fifth or sixth, but will be looking to improve their patchy away form when they visit third-from-bottom Cinderford.

With Macclesfield already doomed, it looks like two of Cinderford, Tynedale and Old Albanians will be going down – the latter dragged into the dogfight through being docked five points for matchday irregularities.

The Fylde line-up is the first chosen in his own right by new player-coach Paul Arnold, since taking over from Mark Nelson.

It shows several changes from the Ealing game, although most of the squad have featured regularly over the campaign.

Richard Kenyon is at full-back, Charles Hough on the wing and Jordan Dotrrington at scrum-half. Alex Loney is the starting hooker, with Gareth Gore and Joe Robinson at lock and Gareth Rawlings in the back row.

Fylde and Hoppers fans should be flocking to Ansdell a week today for the second staging of the Good Friday charity challenge match between the local rivals for the Brendan Hanavan Cup, named in honour of the former Fylde winger who died last year.

Hoppers: M Murray; Jordan, Russell, Woof, Kendall; Allen, Kindred; Madden, Mills, Altham, Tomlinson, A Murray, Napier, Lees, Taylor. Replacements: Tuff, Morton, Banks, Moulding, Hurst

Vale: Coulshed; Lamberton, Dorrington, Lomas, Macluskie; Carter, Swarbrick; McLaren-Dorrington, D Baines, Pillow, Charnley, Powers, Wallbank, Ayrton, A Baines. Replacements: Foy, Owens, McIntosh

Fylde: Kenyon; Hough, S Rawlings, Dowds, Brennand; Johnson, Dorrington; Lewis, Loney, Lavelle, Gore, Robinson, Goodman, Vernon, G Rawlings. Replacements: Griffiths, Burtonwood, Arnold, Nicholls, Brook