Crucial late-October for Fylde RFC

Brennand - hamstring strain
Brennand - hamstring strain
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Fylde RFC are about to embark on a two-match sequence that could define their season.

On Saturday they host Hull Ionians, who are three points and two places above them in National League One – and three points are all that separate Fylde from the relegation places.

Seven days later Fylde journey to Blaydon, who are bottom of the table and are yet to win a game.

Player-coach Paul Arnold said: “We are targeting the next two games as being massively important because we are playing two teams who are having a bit of season like us.”

Fylde are back on home soil, where they have won their last two games, but lost 53-24 at Coventry last Saturday.

Arnold said: “I don’t think the scoreline really reflected how the game went.

“We created enough chances but we made too many mistakes. Coventry capitalised on them in the way we used to.

“It was frustrating and it didn’t help that we were without some of our more experienced players, who were either injured or unavailable.”

Fylde will be without one of their senior players in Oli Brennand against the Humbersiders. The winger is likely to be out of action for a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury.

Number eight Dave Fairbrother is unavailable but there is a return to the back row for Evan Stewart and Jack Turley, who both missed the heavy defeat at Coventry.

Ben Vernon steps down to the replacements’ bench.

Greg Nicholls is unavailable for the second week in a row, so Connor Dever continues at scrum-half.

Nick Gray returns to take his place on the bench. Gray is back after a brief spell at Doncaster Knights, coming on as a replacement in the final quarter of their 34-17 defeat at the hands of London Welsh in round one of the British and Irish Cup.

Wharfedale having been relegated, tomorrow’s Ansdell clash is the only Roses match for Fylde at the Woodlands this season.

The main priority of both clubs is to pull clear of the relegation places and the 11th-placed Ionians could open up a six-point lead over Fylde.

The Humbersiders have been involved in some close encounters so far this term.

They beat Darlington Mowden Park (16-10) and Esher (32-29), while losing narrowly to Loughborough Students (13-6), Birmingham Moseley (24-22) and Blackheath (32-30).

Their biggest defeat was 43-14 against leaders Hartpury College.

Fylde and the Ionians have locked horns comparatively recently and were involved in a couple of close matches last season.

Ionians scored a late try to win 38-35 when the sides met at Brantingham Park, and in the return fixture Fylde prevailed by 36-26.

Fylde team: Dorrington; Bingham, Briers, Wilkinson, Armstrong; Smith, Dever; Griffiths, Burtonwood, Pope, Arnold, Nott, Turley, Stewart, Lamprey. Replacements: Simpson, Loney, Gray, Vernon, Dowds.