Preston Grasshoppers hoping for some home comforts

Action from last Saturday's 39-22 defeat at Wharfedale (photo: Mike Craig)
Action from last Saturday's 39-22 defeat at Wharfedale (photo: Mike Craig)

Preston Grasshoppers and Fylde both face home games tomorrow against clubs which recorded their first wins of the season last Saturday.

Desperate to end a four-match losing streak of tough fixtures, Hoppers return to Lightfoot Green after two weeks on the road to take on Macclesfield.

The visitors are bottom of National League Two North, despite breaking their duck last weekend at home to Otley.

They had lost their first five games of the campaign and have collected just one bonus point.

Saturday’s fifth defeat out of six leaves Hoppers in 13th place, four points clear of the bottom three mainly thanks to a handy haul of seven bonus points.

Head coach Paul Arnold resists the urge to make wholesale changes but does recall himself to the bench. In the pack, Ally Murray swaps places with Rouban Birch, who switches to flanker from lock.

Centre James Fitzpatrick is unavailable and his place goes to Alex Hurst, who has recovered from an off-season operation.

Fylde’s visitors are promoted Peterborough Lions, who have an identical record to Macclesfield after also claiming their first victory last Saturday, against Chester. .

Fylde’s heavy defeat at Tynedale last weekend was their third loss in six outings and saw them slip another place to sixth.

Struggling Vale of Lune face a tough trip to Alnwick in the North Premier League.

The North East outfit have won two out of five to lie 10th, while Vale are bidding to end of run of five successive defeats since being promoted to this level.

With half-a-dozen backs unavailable, injured or facing fitness checks, there’s a new look to the Vale threequarter line. New Zealander Blake Steels makes his debut on the wing, with Chris Ramwell on the other flank, and Sam Wallbank makes the surprise move from the pack to centre.

Another overseas debutant is South African Ruan Fourie, who comes into the back row, while Harry Finan stands by in case fly-half Jack Turton is ruled out.

Hoppers: Ward; Spence, Hurst, Stott, Trueman; Davidson, Gough; Mabaya, Millea, Altham, Procter, Murray, Birch, Leatherbarrow, Lamprey. Replacements: Miller, Trippier, Arnold, Squirrell, Crow.

Vale: J Dorrington; Ramwell. Hunt, Wallbank, Steele; Turton (or Finan), Swarbrick; Bradshaw, Powers, Pillow, Foxcroft, Fellows, Crookall, Fourie, Ayrton. Replacements: Tagg, Robertson, Briggs.