Preston Grasshoppers’ relegation could be confirmed this weekend
It is D-day for both clubs when Preston Grasshoppers host Caldy on Saturday.
The visitors need just one point to secure promotion from National League Two North, whereas Hoppers’ relegation would be virtually confirmed if they take no points at all from the game and other results go in favour of clubs fighting it out in the bottom seven.
Without a home win since the end of October, Paul Arnold’s men are 24 points from safety with only five fixtures left after this weekend.
They were encouraged by last week’s battling performance at Chester, despite suffering their 17th defeat of the campaign 27-14, but Caldy bring a 100 per cent record to Lightfoot Green, having won 24 out of 24.
They ran in 103 points last Saturday against hapless Scunthorpe and are in sight of topping 1,000 points for the season – averaging almost 40 points per game. They won the home fixture against Hoppers 49-21 in November.
Scott Jordan is suspended after his red card at the end of last week’s game, so Tyler Spence is at full-back, Jacob Browne and Conor Trueman are on the wings and Jordan Dorrington is at centre.
There is a first appearance on the bench for Tom Walker, son of Hoppers favourite Micky.
Fylde are still fighting to clinch the Two North play-off spot, but resurgent Hinckley are now only four points behind them, while fourth-placed Sedgley Park’s challenge appears to be fading.
Tomorrow, Luctonians visit Ansdell, afte losing at home to Fylde, 25-27, in November. TFylde’s narrow defeat by Loughborough Students last weekend was their seventh of the campaigns.
Vale of Lune make the trip to the Isle of Man this weekend to take on Douglas in North One West.
Work commitments mean a number of players are unavailable.
As a result, Andy Powers switches from the pack to centre, alongside Alfie Bolton, Ryan Busby is at full-back, winger Bobby Holbrook makes his first appearance of the season and Alex Briggs reverts to scrum-half.
Harm Dokter is the starting hooker.
Hoppers: Spence; Browne, J Dorrington, Stott, Trueman; Prior, Squirrell; Mabaya, Taylor, Blanchard, Wallbank, Murray, Carlson, Harrison, Lamprey. Replacements: Miller, Trippier, Meadows, Clapham, Walker.
Vale: Busby; Fern, Powers, Bolton, Holbrook; Finan, Briggs; Bianchi, Dokter, Pillow, Tagg, Fellows, Snell, Ayrton, Robinson. Replacements: Hesketh, Branford, Cvijanovic.