Hoppers hoping to make most of home advantage again

A second successive home game gives Preston Grasshoppers the chance to move up the North Premier League tomorrow when they host old rivals Macclesfield.

By Paul Outhwaite
Friday, 24th September 2021, 8:00 am

The visitors are one place above Hoppers, in fourth, thanks to a better points difference, both sides having won two out of three.

Both Hoppers’ victories have come at Lightfoot Green, while each clubs’ only defeat so far has been at the hands of early front-runners Otley. Macc lost at home to them by 58-24 and Hoppers went down 29-5 at Otley.

So, as head coach Paul Arnold said, tomorrow will be a “stern test” for his injury-hit side. Prop Noah Miller is out for the season with an Achilles injury and is replaced by Oga Mabaya. Skipper Christian Taylor has recovered from an knee problem to continue at hooker.

Action from Preston Grasshoppers’ win against York last weekend (photo: Mike Craig)

Behind the scrum, Jordan Dorrington is still unavailable, while Matt Crow and Tyler Spence are ruled out by knocks picked up last Saturday.

Alex Taylorson switches to centre, Rob Meadows starts on the wing and there’ is a debut at full-back for summer signing Kevin Brown.

Oli Trippier and Ben Dorrington return to the bench.

In North One West, Vale of Lune welcome back scrum-half Billy Swarbrick for the trip to Broughton Park.

Tomorrow’s hosts had to call off last week’s game against Douglas in the Isle of Man due to Covid problems and have lost their other two fixtures to be in 12th place.

After an opening-day victory, Vale lost their next two and lie eighth with six points.

They won 22-20 on their last visit to Broughton Park, but the return fixture went unplayed because of the coronavirus.

Owen Branford is back at prop for Vale and Tim Nicholson, formerly of Bowden and Stockport, gets his debut in the back row. Lock Harry Fellows makes his 100th appearance.

Fylde, top of National League Two North after three straight wins, are at home to promoted Harrogate, who picked up their first victory last Saturday against Blaydon following two defeats. That leaves them in 11th place.

Hoppers: Brown; Meadows, Taylorson, Stott, Browne; Pearson, Squirrell; Mabaya, Taylor, Altham, Procter, Naylor, Murray, Gale, Lamprey. Replacements: Trippier, Ball, B Dorrington.

Vale: Ramwell; Fern, Jacques, Turton, Humpage; Finan, Swarbrick; Branford, Powers, O’Heirhir, Robinson, Fellows, Nicholson, Ayrton, Wallbank. Replacements: Mount, Tagg, Briggs.