Preston Grasshoppers ready to face Lymm in top-of-the-table clash

Alex Hurst
Alex Hurst

Preston Grasshoppers return to to action after their latest Saturday off with a first league visit to Lymm, who are fourth in the North Premier League – 20 points behind their visitors.

Hoppers need 10 points from their last five fixtures to be sure of automatic promotion after winning 19, drawing one and losing only once.

Lymm, who went down 13-19 at Lightfoot Green in November, have won 15, drawn two and lost four.

Hoppers head coach Paul Arnold promised a “massive effort” in training this week after the patchy display against Harrogate a fortnight ago.

“We know Lymm are a good side,” said Arnold. “When we played them the last time at our place, I think we were the first team to beat them this season.”

Arnold rings the changes too, with on-loan lock Louis McGowan available again, as are winger Tyler Spence and centre Alex Hurst. Sam Gale gets the nod in the back row and Arnold himself, Ollie Trippier and Sam Stott switch to the bench.

Vale of Lune, who need 12 points from seven games to clinch promotion from North One West, host Rochdale, who beat them 9-3 at home just six weeks ago. That was only Vale’s second defeat of the campaign, alongside 17 victories.

Rochdale are next to bottom with just three other wins and 17 defeats.

After missing a few players last week, Vale are back to strength, with props Jack Ferguson and Ross Pillow returning, along with Sam Wallbank at lock and Fergus Owens in the centre. Jordan Dorrington reverts to full-back.

Fylde, already doomed to relegation from National League One, host 12th-placed Esher, who themselves are only eight points above the relegation zone.

The Londoners have won seven – including a 50-12 thrashing of Fylde at home – and drawn two, with 15 defeats.

Fylde’s 22 defeats in 25 games include 12 losses in a row – six of them at home.

Hoppers: Jordan; Spence, Hurst, Fitzpatrick, Crosley; Ward, Squirrell; Mabaya, Millea, Altham, McGovern, Roddy, A Murray, Gale, Lamprey. Replacements: Tripper, Arnold, Stott.

Vale: J Dorrington; Jacques, Owens, B Dorrington, Hall; Turton, Swarbrick; Ferguson, Powers, Pillow, Fellows, Wallbank, Cvijanovic, Ayrton, Stewart. Replacements: Stephens, Rainford, Ramwell.