Hoppers aiming to put record straight

Coach Garth Dew is targeting two wins on the road in the coming weeks
Coach Garth Dew is targeting two wins on the road in the coming weeks
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Preston Grasshoppers will not lack for motivation for tomorrow’s trip to Birmingham/Solihull, who are just a couple of places and four points below them in National League Two North.

Not only will they be buoyed by their recent performances – two home wins and a valiant defeat at promotion contenders Ampthill – they will also be spurred by the memory of a controversial day when the clubs met at Lightfoot Green in October.

In a game turned into the farce of uncontested scrums, Hoppers butchered one certain touchdown, gave away an interception try and lost to a 14-man side through a touchline penalty in the 10th minute of second-half stoppage time.

What head coach Garth Dew reckoned should have been a 40-point victory ended as a 20-19 defeat.

Now Hoppers have chance to make amends in the first of back-to-back trips to the Midlands – they visit Leicester Lions next Saturday.

Dew said: “We can keep the momentum going. There’s no reason why we can’t get two wins on the road in the next two games and push leaders Hull Ionians hard at home the week after.”

Reece Tomlinson picked up an injury last week, so Ally Murray reverts to lock for Hoppers, with Will Lees coming into the back row.

Prop Pete Altham returns from injury and there is a first appearance on the bench for back-row forward Matt Frings, who has been making an impact in the second team.

Vale of Lune’s losing streak in North One West has become a major worry as it stretches to seven successive games, and things will not get any easier tomorrow when they host fifth-placed Penrith.

The Cumbrians have won 10 out of 17 following relegation last season, with nine bonus points, and have three victories and four defeats away from home.

Vale have lost their last three home games, with five victories and four defeats in total at Powderhouse Lane.

Their 14 bonus points have helped them to keep clear of the danger zone, in ninth place, but another win is long overdue.

Penrith beat them 17-15 at home earlier in the campaign.

Fylde’s shock home defeat by Hartpury College last Saturday did not affect their fourth spot in National League One.

But they are now 14 points adrift of Rosslyn Park and 18 behind Coventry, while leaders Ealing are 22 points ahead of them.

Fylde have lost their last five away games but tomorrow’s hosts, Old Albanians, are down in 14th place, with just four victories in nine home fixtures and six wins out of 20 overall.

Fylde have won 12, drawn one and lost seven, with two victories, a draw and six defeats away from Ansdell. They have 18 bonus points to Albanians’ seven.

Fly-half Chris Johnson resumes for Fylde after his one-week ban but there will be late fitness checks on other players. Definitely out is Scott Rawlings, with Sam Bedlow taking over at centre, while Ben Vernon returns to the back row.

Hoppers: M Murray; Jordan, Russell, Woof, Baines; Allen, Kindred; Madden, Mills, Altham, Banks, A Murray, Napier, Lees, Taylor. Replacements: Mabaya, Holmes, Frings, Moulding, Reddick

Fylde (from): Spragg, Dorrington, Briers, Bedlow, Brennand, Johnson, de la Harpe; Birchall, Burtonwood, Rylance, Lewis, Arnold. G Rawlings, Vernon, Fairbrother, Stewart, Kenyon, Nicholls, Goodman, Griffiths, Lavelle, Robinson