Last Saturday, Hinckley leapfrogged them – and deprived them of a losing bonus point with a late penalty – so Hoppers will be desperate to avoid a similar outcome tomorrow when Chester are the visitors to Lightfoot Green.
The Cheshire club, who lost out on promotion last season when beaten by Canterbury in the play-off, are 12th in the table after three victories and five defeats
They have won just one of five away games so far but have a game in hand of Hoppers after last Saturday’s fixture against Scunthorpe was called off as a mark of respect following the death of one of the Lincolnshire club’s players.
Paul Arnold’s men lie 11th after their three wins, one draw and five defeats. They have lost two out of five at home and were defeated twice by Chester last season – 37-48 away and 21-22 at home in the last game of the campaign.
Centre James Fitzpatrick is the latest to join Hoppers’ walking wounded with a knee injury, but, on the brighter side, prop Oga Mabaya is set to start after making his first appearance of the season off the bench last weekend.
Lock Adam Howard and full-back Scott Jordan return after being unavailable at Hinckley and centre Nick Gregson and scrum-half Jake Squirrell also return to the starting XV. Jordan Dorrington and Will Davidson are unavailable.
Despite Fylde’s defeat at Caldy last Saturday, they remain top of the table, albeit by a single point and having played a game more than the Wirral club. They play host to Loughborouigh Students tomorrow.
Vale of Lune welcome “overseas” visitors back to Powderhouse Lane when Douglas make the trip from the isle of Man. They last met a couple of seasons ago, when the Manxmen won at Powderhouse Lane but lost at home.
With Scott Manning and Billy Swarbrick unavailable and Ethan Robertson back at university, Vale reshuffle the backs. Ike Eastwood is at full-back, Alfie Bolton gets a run on the wing and Charlie Lomas makes his first appearance of the campaign, at scrum-half. Tom Cvijanovic partners Harry Felloes in the second row, with the replacements still to be announced.
Vale are now on their regular winter home kick-off time of 2.15pm.
Hoppers: Jordan; Browne, Stott, Gregson, Spence; Prior, Squirrell; Mabaya, Millea, Blanchard, Howard, Wallbank, Carlson, Harrison, Lamprey. Replacements: Madden, Taylor, Procter, B Dorrington, Hurst.
Vale: Eastwood; Fern, Forrest, Higginson, Bolton; Briggs, Lomas; Brandford, Dokter, Pillow, Cvijanovic, Fellows, Powers, Ayrton, Robinson.