It’s make or break time for the Lions as they hop up to Preston

Conor Gracey faces a late fitness test. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Conor Gracey faces a late fitness test. Picture: Mick Sutterby
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It’s now or never for Peterborough Lions.

Their debut season at Level Four has not turned out quite as planned and they sit bottom of National League Two North with just one win from 10 games.

They’ve put part of the blame on an unkind fixture list which has seen them so far matched against the top nine sides.

Now they face a run of five games against bottom-six teams and, quite simply, they have to put points on the board to prove their worth at this level.

And first up of those five ‘easier’ fixtures on Saturday is a daunting trip to Preston Grasshoppers, a former first-class club famous for producing the likes of England stars Wade Dooley, Will Greenwood, Iain Balshaw and Steve Borthwick .

In the 1996/97 season they had a record attendance of 3,000 at Lightfoot Green as the ‘Hoppers’ progressed to the fifth round of the Pilkington Cup and a meeting with Northampton Saints.

The club currently run five men’s teams. The Lions run one!

Games against Macclesfield (home), Leicester Lions (away), Sheffield Tigers (home) and Tynedale (away) follow the trip to Preston.

Lions chairman Andy Moore said: “If we are to survive in this league we really have to start picking up points over the next few weeks.

“We have to come away with something this weekend - be it two, four or five points.

“We’ve certainly been trying hard and have been a bit unlucky in some games.

“But we remain positive and now is the time to prove we are worth our place in the National League.”

The Lions will make the long trip, setting off at 6am, without winger Rory White and prop Alex Ioannou.

White is unavailable through work commitments while Ioannou was injured playing international rugby for Cyprus last weekend.

Long-term injury victims Kaz Henderson (wing) and Chris Cutts (prop) remain absent.

Skipper Conor Gracey, who hurt his elbow in the game against Huddersfield a month ago, faces a late fitness test.

There’s a cracking fixture down at Fengate on Saturday (2.15pm) as Borough entertain table-topping Kettering, the title favourites in Midlands Division One.

Borough will fancy their chances of an upset having won their last three games against Wellinrborough (27-8), Towcestrians (20-6) and Rugby Lions (25-17).

Kettering’s only loss so far came at Oundle where they were pipped 7-3 last month.

Oundle, who are third in the standings, are at home to Lutterworth.

FIXTURES

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 17

ENGLISH CLUBS CHAMPIONSHIP

National League Division Two North: Preston Grasshoppers v Peterborough Lions.

Midlands Division One: Oundle v Lutterworth, Peterborough v Kettering.

Midlands Division Two East (South): Long Buckby v Huntingdon.

Midlands Division Three East (South): Leicester Forest v Bourne, Rushden & Higham v Stamford.

Midlands Division Three East (North): Rolls Royce v Spalding.

Midlands Division Four East (South): Kempston v Deepings, Stamford College Old Boys v Wellingborough OG.