Weekend off for Hoppers

Paul Arnold
Paul Arnold

Preston Grasshoppers enjoy a day off tomorrow – one of two free Saturdays in the next three weekends, interspersed with an inaugural trip to Pocklington on February 17.

Head coach Paul Arnold said: “It’s not a bad thing to have two Saturdays off this month – there are quite a few battered bodies in the squad.”

Meanwhile, their closest rivals at the top of the North Premier Division, Lymm and Hull, have chance to cut Hoppers’ 20-point lead as they play games postponed earlier in the campaign.

There i no such respite for Vale of Lune, whose North One West fixture list is becoming increasingly congested following yet another postponement last Saturday – their fifth of the season plus one abandoned game.

Tomorrow brings a rearranged visit to Rochdale, whom they should have played at the end of November.

This being a rearranged game, Vale have several players unavailable, along with the injured Jordan Dorrington.

Fergus Owens starts at full-back, with centre Jonty Higgin making his first appearance since an injury in November. James Mawdsley props, Harry Finan is at fly-half and Fraser Spavin and Harry Fellows are in the back row.

There is a relegation scrap in store at Fylde, where Hull Ionians are the visitors in National One. Fylde are now 21 points from safety after their 18th defeat in 21 games last weekend.

Vale: Owens; Ramwell, Turton, Higgin, Jacques; Finan, Swarbrick; Ferguson, Powers, Mawdsley, Rainford, Foxcroft, Fellows, Spavin, Wallbank. Replacements: Hoare, Holdbrook. Briggs.