Preston Grasshoppers’ sorry home run needs to be halted
Preston Grasshoppers seek to end a run of four home defeats stretching back to early November as they welcome Wharfedale to Lightfoot Green on Saturday.
Two away games so far this year have yielded six of the 15-point target which head coach Paul Arnold set for January, and fixtures against two of the bottom five clubs in National League Two North ought, on paper, to give them a chance of the wins needed to achieve that.
But 12th-placed Wharfedale ran high-flying Fylde close at Ansdell a fortnight ago and Hoppers’ opponents next Saturday, 14th-placed Huddersfield, gained a shock win over Fylde last weekend.
So the struggling Prestonians can take nothing for granted, even though tomorrow’s visitors have lost five successive away games since mid-October.
Wharfedale have seven victories, one draw and 10 defeats and squeezed home 20-19 against Hoppers in October.
Hoppers will name their starting line-up from the 20 players on duty at Sheffield, plus the returning Alex Hurst.
Fylde’s defeat at Huddersfield let Sedgley Park reduce the gap between second and third to three points, with Park having a game in hand.
Meanwhile, Caldy look to be running away with the title, having opened up a 13-point lead, also with a game in hand.
Tomorrow, ninth-placed Tynedale visit Ansdell after losing 34-27 at home to Fylde in September.
Vale of Lune return to Powderhouse Lane for the first time since December 7, when they host Firwood Waterloo, who are third in North One West.
The reincarnation of the one-time top-flight club is on a four-match winning streak and beat Vale 20-14 on Merseyside earlier in the campaign.
Vale ring the changes again, with two of last Saturday’s replacements, Vitorio Vianchi and Ike Eastwood, starting this week at prop and full-back.
Alex Briggs and Harry Finan swap roles, with the former at centre, alongside Michael Forrest, and the latter at fly-half. Callum Kyle and James Robinson return to the pack.
Hoppers (from): Jordan, J Dorrington, W Davidson, Hurst, Gregson, Stott, Browne, T Davidson, Gough, Squirrell; Mabaya, Taylor, Trippier, Miller, Madden, Howard, Murray, Carlson, B Dorrington, Harrison, Wallbank.
Vale: Eastwood; Fern, Forrest, Briggs, Busby; Finan, Swarbrick; Vianchi, Powers, Pillow, Kyle, Fellows, Ayrton, Snell, Robinson. Replacements: Hesketh, Tagg, Dokter.