Preston Grasshoppers vs. Stockport – Kick Off 2.30pm
Just a couple of changes to the squad previously selected for last Saturday’s postponed game against Westoe with Richard Morton swapping places with Mo Mustafa and Michael Haley taking the place of Eddie Webster on the bench.
Hopefully nothing will get in the way of Sean Taylor making his one hundredth appearance this week.
1. Andy Irving, 2. Phil Mills, 3. Richard Morton, 4. Gareth Gore, 5. Ali Murray, 6. Andy Napier, 7. Will Keenan, 8. Dominic Moon. Captain, 9. Craig Aikman. 10. Lewis Allen, 11. Adam Birchall, 12. Jack Ward, 13. Phil Baines, 14. Matt Hughes, 15. Sean Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Chris Gale, 17. Mo Mustafa, 18. Michael Haley, 19. Conor Murphy, 20. Josh Purnell.
Stockport certainly won’t suffer any transport problems for their short trip to Lightfoot Green, in fact they’ll be very keen to get here and hope to improve on their recent run of good form which on their last outing saw them gain an impressive five point victory at Leicester Lions, not the easiest place to visit for lots of reasons.
Our visitors gave us a run for our money at The Memorial Ground at the end of October when an injury time penalty kick converted by Sean Taylor saved the visitors blushes after being pegged back from an early big lead.
With the Cheshire club looking certain for relegation at Christmas time, their recent run of results has given a faint sniff of survival even though they still languish some fourteen and fifteen points behind the next two clubs above them in the league. Recent games have witnessed a narrow home defeat at the hands of an in form Ionians following a victory over Caldy and as Hoppers experienced themselves earlier in the season our visitors might be at the wrong end of the table but as has been well documented, they certainly don’t go down without a fight.
Stockport coped quite well with the transition up to Level 4 rugby in their first season and whilst they had a mixture of results, their victory over the ultimate league champions Loughborough Students at the Memorial Ground made the rest of the league sit up and take notice. This season however they are experiencing that second season dilemma which seems to affect plenty of clubs. The euphoria of promotion in 2011 has long disappeared and but for their recent successes just one win this term separated two victories last season since the end of January 2012.
Whilst the name Stockport is a fairly new one on Hoppers long list of opponents, some of our older members will recall visiting the same venue when the Cheshire club played there under the name of Davenport before they metamorphosed into Stockport in 1992.
Hoppers and Davenport first meeting was over forty years ago on the 13th of February 1971 at the Bramhall ground when the home team came up with a narrow victory fourteen points to eight after a scoreless first half.
There have been twenty-four meetings between the ‘three’ clubs, Hoppers winning seventeen, Davenport six and Stockport none with one ending in a three all draw. After the first game, fixtures were kept every year until the last meeting between Hoppers and Davenport on the 17th of March 1990 at Lightfoot Green when the visitors replaced the scheduled opponents Wigan. We should have met once more, during the following month, but a Lancashire Cup Semi Final against LSH looks to have taken precedence.
Preston Grasshoppers RFC is delighted to welcome Royal Bank of Scotland to Lightfoot Green on Saturday as the main match sponsor.
Also in attendance as sponsors of the game will be Steve and Alison Mawdesley of SMallworks and approximately 40 cyclists who will just have undertaken a ride around the Trough of Bowland with the ‘Hoppers Rollers’. The cycling is sponsored by Broadgate Cycles and CycleTech No1.