Preston Grasshoppers must end dismal record at Leicester

Jake Squirrell starts at scrum-half
Jake Squirrell starts at scrum-half

Preston Grasshoppers make the first of this season’s five trips to the Midlands tomorrow to take on Leicester Lions.

The two clubs have identical records in National League Two North so far – two victories out of seven.

But 11th-placed Hoppers are a couple of slots higher than the Lions, thanks to seven bonus points, three more than their hosts, who have won their last two after starting with five straight defeats.

After ending their losing sequence last Saturday, Hoppers head coach Paul Arnold said: “This is a crazy league. We know it’s a tough one and there are no easy games.”

That especially applies at Leicester, where Preston have lost four in a row since victory in 2012.

It was also amply proved in the last couple of weeks, with Peterborough, for example, getting their first victory, over Chester, who then went on to defeat table-toppers Hinckley.

Tomorrow, Preston Grasshoppers make just one change, with Jake Squirrell starting at scrum-half for the unavailable James Gough. Front-row forward Ryan Purcell and centre James Fitzpatrick join the replacements.

Elsewhere, Fylde follow Preston down the motorway tomorrow for a game at Hinckley, who are now second after racking up six victories before that defeat at Chester. Fylde remain sixth following four wins out of seven.

Meanwhile, Vale of Lune – still looking to break their duck after six games in the North Premier League – host leaders Hull, who have won five in a row after losing at Rossendale on the opening day. The clubs last met in 2004/5, with Hull doing the double.

Vale welcome back several players, but are without both Dorringtons, Jordan and Ben.

Damon Hall returns at full-back, Ollie Jacques on the wing, Fergus Owens at 
centre and Jack Turton at fly-half.

James Robinson, Jack Ayrton and Sam Wallbank make up the back row this week.

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

Vale: Hall; Jacques, Owens, Hunt, Steele; Turton, Swarbrick; Bradshaw, Powers, Pillow, Foxcroft, Fellows, Robinson, Ayrton, Wallbank. Replacements: Tagg, Fourie, Ramwell.