Preston Grasshoppers’ promotion party should be in full swing!

Preston Grasshoppers’ conquering heroes return home tomorrow after clinching promotion from the North Premier League at Alnwick last Saturday.

By Paul Outhwaite
Friday, 8th April 2022, 8:00 am

Now certain to finish in the top two, Hoppers welcome Burnage for the final home fixture of the campaign, hoping to make it 12 victories out of 13 at Lightfoot Green and to extend their winning streak, home and away, to 13.

Hoppers had a 59-0 triumph at Burnage, who are 12th in the table after five wins out of 23. They have lost nine out of 11 on the road.

Preston winger Tyler Spence will miss the celebrations as he is unavailable this weekend. Jacob Browne switches to the wing, with Tom Walker coming in at full-back, while Sam Gale and Ben Dorrington return to the back five of the pack.

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Preston Grasshoppers celebrate promotion (photo:Rod Murray)

Hoppers’ final league game in two weeks’ time is at bottom club Northwich, who visit leaders Otley tomorrow. Hoppers will be hard pushed to overtake the Yorkshire club, who have a three-point advantage and end their campaign in a fortnight at ninth-placed York.

But the Lightfoot Green faithful will be out in force tomorrow to give head coach Paul Arnold a rousing send-off in his final home game in charge.

In North Two West, Vale of Lune face a mighty task as they travel to Stockport, who have won all 24 games this season. Vale are eighth in the table, following nine victories and 14 defeats, including losing 18-3 at home to Stockport in December, but have won their last two outings.

Skipper Andy Powers returns at hooker for Vale, but they are without threequarter Max Cross, forward Sam Wallbank and fellow back-row Don Lane, who is heading to Australia.

Joe Harrison comes in at lock, with Harry Fellows switching to flanker, and there’s another reshuffle in the backs, with Chris Ramwell moving to centre and Alex Briggs to the wing, while Jordan Fern returns on the wing. Reuben Orr deputises for the unavailable Billy Swarbrick at scrum-half.

Fylde make the testing trip to Stourbridge in National Two North, with the Midlanders having lost just once at home in 12 games. They are fourth, one point above Fylde, who squeezed home 15-10 against them at Ansdell in December. Fylde have won 20 out of 26 and eight out of 13 away from home.Hoppers: Walker; Clapham, J Dorrington, Stott, Browne; Pearson, Moulding; Mabaya, Taylor, Altham, Murray, Gale, Harrison, B Dorrington, Lamprey. Replacements: Trippier, Bramhall, Squirrell.Vale: Hall; Fern, Jacques, Ramwell, Briggs; Finan, Orr; Stephens, Powers, Mount, Tagg, Harrison, Fellows, Nicholson, Ayrton.