Sean’s landmark day for Hoppers

Ton up: Sean Taylor
Ton up: Sean Taylor
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Michael Lough insists that momentum is the key ingredient if Preston Grasshoppers are to keep up their push for a play-off spot against Westoe tomorrow.

Hoppers are in a rich vein of form after four wins on the bounce and they will feel confident of continuing that run against the visitors to Lightfoot Green, who languish in the drop zone.

“We have got a couple of games coming up we are expected to win,” said Lough.

“But we need to still have the level of performance that means when we come up against more challenging teams towards the end of the season we are able to meet them and beat them.

“They are towards the bottom of the table and last time we played them we beat them convincingly.

“However, we know they have improved and we are not going to be taking them lightly.”

Despite occupying fourth spot in National League Two North, Hoppers trail Hull Ionians by 14 points but they have not given up hope of catching the league’s second-placed side and reaching the play-offs.

“We require Hull to stumble quite a bit towards the end of the season,” said Lough.

“But all we can do is keep playing and winning.”

Lough will go with the same side that convincingly swept aside Huddersfield 47-6 last time out, with Sean Long and Karl Fitzpatrick both still injured.

That means that Sean Taylor makes his 100th appearance. The full-back is not only the top scorer in Two North, with 236, but in the whole of the National leagues.

Elsewhere, Vale of Lune will host North One West leaders Liverpool St Helens at Powderhouse Lane.

While Vale will be confident of repeating their 26-18 victory over the Moss Lane outfit back in September, LSH have the remarkable record of having won all nine away games.

Mark Hanson will have a fitness test before a decision is made on his inclusion but the Cherry and Whites will be without fellow prop James Hesketh, who suffered a recurrence of his shoulder injury in last weekend’s victory over Manchester.

Vale will choose from a squad of 18, which includes back-row forward Rhys Randall. Jonty Higgin continues at fly-half in place of Jimmy Moore, whose accountancy studies will keep him out for the rest of the season.

A feisty Lancashire clash is brewing in National League One with Fylde travelling to relegation-threatened Sedgley Tigers.

After losing to bottom club Cambridge last week, Fylde will be looking to emulate their narrow 12-11 victory over the Tigers earlier in the season.

They will need to do so without Scott Barrow however who is on duty with the England Counties squad who face France Amateurs tonight in Ealing.

Fylde ring the changes after last week’s shocker, with Olli Viney and Steve Briers coming back into the threequarter line, Chris Johnson at fly-half, Peter Altham in the front row and Sam Beaumont at No.8, allowing Gareth Rawlings to switch to lock.

It is now nine games on the road without a win for Kendal as they head for Rossendale for a game originally scheduled for January 26.

They picked up their third win of the campaign a couple of weeks ago, but it was back to defeat at Lymm last Saturday, their 16th of the season.

Rossendale won 34-27 at Kendal earlier in the season and lie eighth with eight victories and 11 defeats.

They have won six out of nine at home, including their last four in succession, and have 13 bonus points to the Cumbrians’ nine.

Hoppers: Taylor: Hughes, Baines, Ward, Birchall; Allen, Aikman; Irving, Mills, Mustafa, Gore, Murray, Napier, Keenan, Moon.

Vale (from): Hodder; Ward, Royle, Moorby, Haigh, Macluskie; Higgin, Wilson; Hanson, A Cowey, Berry, Powers, Acton, Wallbank, Tudor, Lin, Charnley, Randall.

Fylde: C Briers; Viney, Waywell, S Briers, Brennand; Johnson, de la Harpe; Birchall, Roddam, Altham, Rawlings, Arnold, Stewart, McGinnis, S Beaumont.

Lancashire can secure their place in the quarter-finals of the National Under-20 Championship when they take on holders Yorkshire at Broughton Park on Sunday.

Cheshire are already assured of a quarter-final spot after completing their Pool 1 schedule with 12 points from the three games; Lancashire have 10 points from two victories while Yorkshire have five points from two games.