Preston Grasshoppers desperate for a win to ease pain
It is a big weekend in National League Two North for both Preston Grasshoppers and Fylde – for very different reasons.
While Fylde have chance to put some daylight between themselves and third-placed visitors Sedgley Park, Hoppers desperately need to end a run of five successive defeats to ensure they do not fall deeper into trouble in the relegation zone.
Hull come to Lightfoot Green in 11th place and on the back of two successive victories – including a shock win at Fylde a fortnight ago.
Hoppers’ record has now slumped to nine defeats, a draw and just three victories and they are currently at least seven points from safety outside the drop zone.
Paul Arnold’s side have lost their last two home games and last Saturday against Luctonians failed to score a try for the first time since January.
Impressive back-rower Ryan Carlson is injured, so Sam Wallbank drops back from lock, where Adam Howard returns. Nick Gregson is at fly-half and James Fitzpatrick resumes in the centre, with Ben Dorrington and Sam Stott on the bench this week, alongside prop Ryan Purcell.
Sedgley Park are five points behind second-placed Fylde but have a game in hand, so a win for them at Ansdell could put real pressure on in the promotion battle.
Park are on a four-match winning streak and in all, they have won 10 out of 12.
Fylde, with 10 victories, a draw and two defeats, are now three points behind leaders Caldy.
After their first away win of the North One West campaign last week – indeed their first since April 2018 –Vale of Lune return to Powderhouse Lane to take on third-placed Burnage. A couple of seasons ago, both slubs won their home game.
With five victories out of 11, Vale are now 10th, while Burnage’s four defeats in 11 outings have all been away from home.
Threequarters Callum Kyle and Ike Eastwood are unavailable, but Vale have Michael Forrest back at centre and Alfie Bolton comes in on the wing. Owen Branford starts at prop with James Hesketh on the bench this week.
Hoppers: Jordan; J Dorrington, Hurst, Fitzpatrick, Spence; Gregson, Gough; Blanchard, Taylor, Miller, Howard, Murray, Wallbank, Harrison, Lamprey. Replacements: Millea, Purcell, B Dorrington, Squirrell, Stott.
Vale: Manning; Fern, Forrest, Powers, Bolton; Briggs, Swarbrick; Branford, Dokter, Pillow, Cvijanovic, Fellows, Snell, Ayrton, Robinson. Replacements: Yates, Hesketh, Tagg.