Schofield tips Oldham for the top

Date published: 02 January 2019

Former Great Britain legend Garry Schofield has tipped Oldham Roughyeds to win Betfred League One in 2019 and thus win automatic promotion to the Championship.

Headlined ‘Oldham to win League 1’, his latest League Express column looks at the prospects of each of the 11 clubs and places them in the order he expects them to finish.

Oldham top Schofield’s list, followed (in this order) by Workington Town, Doncaster, Newcastle Thunder, Hunslet, Whitehaven, North Wales Crusaders, Coventry Bears, Keighley Cougars, London Skolars and West Wales Raiders.

He gives a brief run-down on each club’s prospects and said of Oldham: “I like the way Scott Naylor coaches., so I’m expecting big things of him in 2019.

“The Roughyeds are tough defensively and they like to get ripped in.

“They’ve got good half-backs who like to move the ball around nicely.

“They pushed York and Bradford very close in consecutive weeks towards the end of last season so they will fear no-one in League One.”

Oldham were involved in two cracking, close games with York in 2018, home and away, but fell to a 47-0 defeat at Bradford in the play-off semi-final — a result that was completely out of character for a Roughyeds squad that boasted one of the best defensive records in the division.

Oldham lost several games by tight margins and that was maybe because they were a young squad with few old heads and were a little bit short of experience.

Judging by the players Oldham have signed during the close season it would appear there has been a conscious decision to make the squad more street-wise.

Fans can see the new boys for the first time at Barrow on Sunday week, January 13, but most fans will no doubt wait for the eagerly-awaited Law Cup clash with derby rivals Rochdale Hornets at the Vestacare Stadium on Sunday, January 20, kick-off 3pm.

It will be the first Law Cup game in Oldham for several years.

Oldham will be defending the silverware they won at the Crown Oil Arena last year following Rochdale’s 2017 win at Stalybridge.

Naylor knows that the Roughyeds fans are passionate about any game against their neighbours and he says this one will be no different.

It should be a cracker between two new-look squads and featuring a Hornets side that has a new coach in former Whitehaven boss Carl Forster.

Said Naylor: “After weeks of training with nothing to show for it at the end of the week, we’ll soon be in game mode.

“Training can be a bit boring when you’re slogging away with nothing at the end of it but when you start playing games the focus switches and the lads have something to look forward to at the weekend.

“There’s a different feel to training when the pre-season games are about to get under way.”

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