Preston Grasshoppers vs. Caldy – KO 2.30pm
Firstly it’s good news this week in that Mo Mustafa, Rich Morton and Sean Taylor are fit again with the latter two taking their places in the starting line up against Caldy in the National 2 North fixture, whilst Lewis Allen returns to his more familiar role at stand off in place of the injured Karl Fitzpatrick. Sam Wallbank retains his place in the second row after coming off the bench last week.
The bench sees the return of Chris Taylor plus Alex Zavallis-Roebuck after his weekend of International rugby.
1 Richard Morton, 2 Phil Mills, 3 Danny Madden, 4 Ally Murray, 5 Sam Wallbank, 6 Will Lees, 7 Eddie Webster, 8 Dominic Moon (Captain), 9 Sam Kindred, 10 Lewis Allen, 11 Phil Baines, 12 Jack Ward, 13 Sam Bedlow, 14 Adam Birchall, 15 Sean Taylor.
16 Mo Mustafa, 17 Alan Holmes, 18, Chris Taylor, 19 Alex Zavallis-Roebuck, 20 Craig Aikman.
Hoppers will be hoping to get back to winning ways against Cheshire side Caldy this Saturday after yet another narrow defeat on the road, this time at Birmingham Solihull’s Portway ground on Saturday.
Last weeks game had twists and turns both off the field and on and certainly the ones off it made for a few hasty amendments. The withdrawal of James Mawdsley through illness late in the week opened the gate for a second First XV débutante in the shape of Tom McGuinness, the début of Sam Bedlow in the centres had been announced when the original team was named. The main cause for concern was delivered en route when Mo Mustafa fell ill during the journey, fortunately John Peterson had travelled with the party and ‘was volunteered’ to take up the vacant spot on the bench, not something he would have imagined when the team coach pulled out onto Lightfoot Lane at the start of the journey!
JP duly got some game time, coming on as a blood replacement for Danny Madden before eventually replacing him permanently for the last quarter of an hour. Well done John who can now claim to have the second highest total of league appearances behind Rich Morton who’s still turning out for the Firsts!
Saturday’s visitor’s confidence will have been boosted by three consecutive wins in their last four outings before suffering something of a trouncing last week at league leaders Macclesfield. Their last home game was a very considerable victory over our opponents from last Saturday which Hoppers will need to take into consideration during their preparations this week.
Caldy’s season got off to a terrible start with a run of five consecutive defeats before they steadied the ship somewhat and have won five of their last eight games.
The Inaugural senior game against today’s visitors was a pre-season warm-up fixture here at Lightfoot Green in prior to the 2004/5 season. Caldy had climbed the league ladder with a succession of promotions from the depths of South Lancashire and Cheshire 3, eventually gaining promotion to N2N as Champions of North 1 in 2007.
There have been twelve league meetings between the two clubs, all in consecutive seasons since Caldy’s last promotion. Both clubs being successful six times, so things couldn’t be more even.
Nice to see Adam Birchall has re-discovered the try scoring habit in recent weeks with his touch down against Dudley Kingswinford being his twentieth in thirty one games. Along with the two débutantes and the re-birth of JP against the Bees, Phil Mills made his fiftieth league appearance.
Our all conquering 2nd XV have now finished the preliminaries of the Bateman BMW League in top spot to Macclesfield who were nine points adrift of ourselves. The League now splits into two sections and included in the conference along with ourselves and Macclesfield are Sale FC, Fylde, Stockport, Caldy and Sedgley Park who will provide the opposition on the 21st of December. This fixture will go some way to compensate there not being a home 1st XV fixture on the Saturday prior to Christmas and I’m sure such an attractive game will summon a good attendance and be a suitable alternative to the crush that is late Christmas Shopping! Meanwhile Fylde Hawks provide the opposition this coming Saturday at Lightfoot Green as the Seconds get the business end of their season underway. The game will kick off at 12.45 giving supporters chance to watch both the First and Second XV’s play.
Other games being played by Hoppers Senior teams this coming Saturday include;
Hoppers 2 vs. Fylde 2 (Home)
Hoppers 3 vs. Wirral 2 (Home)
Hoppers 4 vs. Bury 2 (Home)
Hoppers 5 vs. Fleetwood 3 (Away)
Hoppers 6 vs. Ormskirk 3 (Away)
Hoppers Women vs. Northwich (Home – Sunday)
The remaining two Saturdays in December after the Caldy fixture sees the First XV make a couple of relatively short journeys, first to Macclesfield before travelling to Sedgley Park on the 21st. The 1869 Club are hoping to run coaches to both these games if sufficient numbers can be raised, so look for the sheets on the Noticeboard to add your name. The trip to Sedgley Park will most likely be without the usual lunch stop as most places will probably be already fully booked with pre-Christmas Diners.
Photograph courtesy of Mike Craig