ON-FIRE Oldham will be going for their 11th win in their last 12 games against big-spending Newcastle Thunder in Sunday’s big promotion decider at the Vestacare Stadium.
Take away a surprise home defeat by Doncaster in an early round of the play-off and Thunder can boast a similar surge into the Promotion Final from third place in the final Betfred League 1 table — one point and one place behind Sunday’s hosts.
Neither Oldham nor Thunder believe recent form will count for anything though.
Said Roughyeds boss Scott Naylor:
“It’s a 50-50 game in my opinion; very tough and with little between us.
“We seem to be more comfortable at home, which is good, and we play a certain way against Newcastle, which seems to work for us.
“I’m not surprised we’ve done so well in the last three or four months because we work on things during the season and generally go stronger towards the end.
“There’s a general confidence and belief among the lads in the way I want them to play and then sticking to it.
“We all agreed it’s the best way for us to play. It’s a joint thing involving us all.
“Past form, though, will count for nothing. It’s a final, it’s going to be tough, and it will hinge on which side plays best on the day.
“I think Newcastle have better individual players in people like QLT, Lewis Young, Misi and Keal Carlile, who can control a game from dummy half if he’s allowed to.
“The forwards are athletic and go for 80 minutes, but we’ve got home advantage and we haven’t lost at the Vestacare in the league since last April so I reckon it’s going to be some game.”
He confirmed that he had a fully-fit squad available so it’s likely to be a very similar side to that which beat Doncaster 22-12 in the semi-final.
Thunder are also expected to be as you were, or close to it, but managing director Mick Hogan hopes his side can play with the same verve and vigour that turned over the Dons at the second attempt.
“Last week’s win will mean absolutely nothing in terms of what happens at Oldham.
“It will come down to preparation this week and to which side turns up on the day. The side that wins will be the one that gets its defence right, does the little things right, takes its chances and doesn’t give away penalties.”
Usual admission prices will apply and Oldham are urging fans to buy tickets in advance even though the game is not all-ticket.
Payment by cheque or cash only and the office will be open until 6pm tonight (Wednesday, October 2); from 10am to 3pm tomorrow and from 10am to 6pm on Friday.