Lough demands more from players

A charging Sam Wallbank.
A charging Sam Wallbank.
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Preston Grasshoppers have another chance to stop a damaging run of home defeats tomorrow when they welcome Hull for Hoppers’ second successive game at Lightfoot Green.

After last Saturday’s dispiriting loss to Harrogate, head coach Michael Lough said: “I think we’ll come back well this week. We can play so much better.

“We were at home and we did not perform – the players did not turn up across the park

“We need to put that right this week. Fitness is fine, it’s just making sure we have that desire.

“Being at home should be an advantage. Teams travel a long way to play us and we should be making our home ground into something of a fortress, so that is the aim.

“Hull are a lot stronger than they were the first time we played them. They have brought in some players that have added to their squad so it will be tough match across the park. I think it will be a close game.

The season has not really panned out as we would have liked it,” he added. “But we have things in place to improve that next season.”

Starting the National League Two North campaign with five home wins out of six, Preston have gone on to lose their last five there in a spell stretching back to November 23 and are now in 12th place.

But a victory this weekend could move them up three places.

Hull are one place, and eight points, behind Hoppers and have lost their last six away games, although they will have been encouraged by last Saturday’s narrow reverse at fourth-placed Sedgley Park, who edged home 32-30.

The Humbersiders are 12 points clear of the relegation zone, although 14th-placed Sheffield Tigers have a game in hand.

Hull have won only two of 12 away fixtures and eight out of 24 overall. Hoppers have won 10 and lost 14 and both sides have 11 bonus points.

Preston keep the same starting backs as last week, but reshuffle the pack.

Alan Holmes returns as hooker following Phil Mills’s nasty ear injury and Dan Madden starts at prop, with Andrew Irving moving to lock and Sam Wallbank switching to the back row.

Fly-half Lewis Allen is on the bench for the first time since dislocating his shoulder.

Hoppers: Taylor; Trueman, Baines, Ward, Kendal; Davies, Aikman; Madden, Holmes, Altham, Irving, Murray, Wallbank, Wallace, Moon.

l Four Hoppers’ players have been named in the Lancashire Under-20s team to play Cheshire at Wigan on Sunday – full-back Sam Kendal, fly-half Lewis Allen, hooker Jack Wilkinson and back-row forward Will Lees.

The side also includes Myerscough College wing Cameron Robinson, KGS lock Nick Riding and Fylde’s Jordan Dorrington and Ralph Dowd at scrum-half and centre, with their club-mate Olly Trippier on the bench.