Arnold wants Hoppers stars to savour moment

Hoppers lift the trophy (photo: Mike Craig)
Hoppers lift the trophy (photo: Mike Craig)

Preston Grasshoppers head coach Paul Arnold has urged his title-winning players to enjoy the final few weeks of the season.

Hoppers sealed the North Premier title two weeks ago when they defeated Ilkey at Lightfoot Green over the Easter bank holiday 
weekend.

And they were presented with the league title trophy in front of a delighted home crowd after last Saturday’s 
57-3 victory over Morley.

With two games of the season left to play – starting with this weekend’s trip to Billingham, Arnold has urged his players to savour the feeling of being newly-crowned champions.

“The last two weeks have been great,” Arnold said.

“We knew after beating Harrogate that we needed one five-point victory from our final four games. We won the title by beating Ilkley which came over the bank holiday weekend, which was great because it gave us an extra day to party and celebrate.

“But we wanted to stay focused for the trophy presentation and give the fans something to smile about.

“Our performance in the first half against Morley wasn’t great, but we got our act together. Winning titles does not come around too often in a player’s career.

“I have only been involved in four promotions – two with Sedgley Park, one with Fylde and now one with Hoppers, so I’ve told the lads to enjoy the moment.”

Arnold plans to mix things up over the final two games. He plans to give some fringe players an outing as well as trying out a few players in different positions.

Dan Madden and Ollie Trippier start in the front row, Louis McGowan is back at lock, Mark Murray starts at fly-half, Connor Trueman is on the wing and Jobe Roxby comes in at full-back, with Scott Jordan switching to scrum-half for Jake Squirrell, who has a groin injury.

Vale of Lune’s last home game in North One West brings play-off chasing Northwich to Lancaster for a top-two clash.

There will be no letting up in run-in, with the prolific Damon Hall eyeing the Vale try-scoring and points records for a season, while the team itself is targeting 1,000 points – they are currently on 927.

Vale will make a late check on lock Harry Fellows’s hamstring.

Fylde have only pride to play for in their last three National League One fixtures – aiming to end of run of 14 defeats. They visit Darlington Mowden Park

Hoppers: Roxby; Spence, Hurst, Fitzpatrick, Trueman; M Murray, Jordan; Madden, Trippier, Altham, Roddy, McGowan, A Murray, Gale, Lamprey. Replacements: Mabaya, Millea, Akrigg.

Vale: Higgin; Jacques, Owens, B Dorrington, Hall; Turton, Swarbrick; Stevens, Powers, Pillow, Fellows, Wallbank, Ayrton, Sadler, Stewart. Replacements (from): Hodgson, Crookall, Cvijanovic. Ramwell. J Dorrington.