THE defeat at Newcastle means Oldham will probably have to get something from their games against the top two, York and Bradford, in order to qualify for the Betfred League 1 play-offs.
“We’ve put ourselves under a lot of pressure, but we’re still up for it. We can still do it,”
said assistant boss Pete Carey.
With four games left, Roughyeds are currently in fifth place — the last of the play-off spots — with the same number of points as sixth-placed Hunslet.
York or Bradford will finish top and go up automatically.
Teams 2 to 5 inclusive play off for the right to join them in the Championship.
Oldham expected to be in third place now, but their fade-out in the last quarter of an hour at Newcastle, where they let an 18-6 lead slip and lost 24-18, plus Workington’s surprise win at Bradford saw them fall to fifth.
Hunslet now appear to be the biggest threat to Oldham, who will have to beat Coventry Bears at the Vestacare Stadium on Sunday week, September 2, and London Skolars away in their last game of the season on Saturday, September 22.
Between the two, Scott Naylor’s men go to York on September 9 and entertain Bradford on September 16 in a game that will attract the biggest crowd of the year and might well determine the Roughyeds’ fate.
Surprise results are always likely at this time of the season — ask Bradford about that — but with games against the runaway top two still to come Roughyeds clearly have the toughest run-in of all the hopefuls.
The flip side to that is their superior for-and-against record which will be worth another point if Roughyeds and Hunslet end up on level pegging.
Said club skipper Gareth Owen:
“We’re probably dependent on other results going our way now, but if we can make the play-offs we wouldn’t be fazed by anybody in a one-off, sudden-death game.”
Promotion aside, a play-off game at Bradford or York, for instance, would prove hugely beneficial financially to Roughyeds whatever the outcome.
With places 3 to 5 inclusive up for grabs, the contenders go into battle like this:
- WORKINGTON TOWN (3rd, 32 points): Home, York, London Skolars; away, Newcastle Thunder, Doncaster.
- DONCASTER (4th, 30 points): Home, Newcastle Thunder, Workington Town; away, Keighley Cougars, North Wales Crusaders.
- OLDHAM (5th, 28 points): Home, Coventry Bears, Bradford Bulls; away, York, London Skolars.
- HUNSLET (6th, 28 points): Home, London Skolars, Newcastle Thunder; away, Whitehaven, Coventry Bears.
- WHITEHAVEN (7th, 26 points): Home, Hunslet, Coventry Bears; away, Hemel Stags, York.
In the reverse fixtures of the four games Oldham have still to play, Naylor’s men took four points out of eight, winning comfortably at Coventry and against London at home, but going down 30-12 at Bradford and 24-22 at home to York in an early-season classic.