Cup prep starts at home

Date published: 20 March 2021

The focus in Oldham's preparation for today's (Saturday) first-round Challenge Cup tie against League 1 Barrow Raiders will be placed entirely on Roughyeds getting it right themselves.

That's the message from head coach Matt Diskin ahead of the Bower Fold clash behind closed doors (12.45pm kick-off), which will again be streamed live on Our League.

The winners will be away in round two the following weekend to the winners of the Swinton Lions versus Newcastle Thunder tie at Heywood Road, Sale.

Diskin has been unable to run the rule over Raiders because they have not yet had a friendly, preferring to leave any warm-up games they might have until May when the League 1 season begins.

On the one hand that gives Roughyeds a head start; on the other, as Diskin points out, it means Raiders are very much an unknown quantity.

He said: "I know they've recruited well and they have a good historic record in the Challenge Cup so they'll be up for it and they will come down here with all guns blazing.

"I've not had an opportunity to see them play, so we'll be concentrating very much on ourselves, making sure we do what we want to do and do it well, and continuing to improve as we did last week against Halifax.

"The Challenge Cup is a very prestigious competition and Barrow are very much an unknown quantity so we'll have to be on our guard and at our best."

Diskin hopes to have several senior men available for selection again after fielding a very young and inexperienced back division last time out in the 30-18 defeat by Halifax Panthers in a pre-season friendly.

Big prop Phil Joy, who took a knock at Featherstone in the first friendly and missed the Halifax game, is said to be "touch and go."

Cam Leeming, Kyran Johnson and John Hutchings, all of whom have not yet made an appearance, are still not ready, but there are fingers crossed that Ben Heaton, Ryan Ince, Dave Hewitt and Tyler Dupree will all be ready in time and available for selection.

If prop Jack Spencer plays it will be his 100th appearance for Roughyeds, whom he joined in 2016 when his father Lee, better known as 'Spanner', was No 2 to the then head coach Scott Naylor.

Both clubs are urging their fans to watch the game on Our League.

It costs nothing for Oldham season-ticket holders, but for all other fans it is £10 if purchased on the day of the game.

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