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Derby clash: Diskin looking to square things up

MATT Diskin is looking to his Oldham players to respond positively after their cup defeat at Swinton and to reverse the result in tomorrow’s Betfred Championship opener against the Lions at Bower Fold, which kicks off at 5.15pm and will be screened live on Our League.

This week’s preparation has been all about respecting possession, eradicating the vast number of handling errors that cost Roughyeds the tie at Heywood Road and finding ways to turn territorial advantage into points.

“The challenge for this group and its individuals is to quickly learn lessons,” said the Oldham boss.

“There are no shortcuts. The season will be a roller-coaster, but the squad will always be resilient in its endeavours.”

There was no lack of effort at Swinton; a powerful pack led by ‘Rambo’ Reilly did its job up front and in the middle but then came a lack of execution with little sign of the cutting edge that was needed to bust a tough Lions defence.

Describing the return clash in the league as a “big game for the club”, Diskin added:

“It’s not often you get an opportunity to put things right against the same opponents within five days. We’ve got that opportunity and we have to grab it.

“You can’t disrespect possession like we did at their place and expect to come through.”

Declan Gregory, cleared to play after concussion, is expected to get a call-up on the bench but the players are in for their second training session of the week tonight and Diskin said he couldn’t confirm anything about his selection at this stage outside the perimeters of the 21-man squad he has already announced,

“No decisions yet,”

he said.

Five who didn’t play at Heywood Road are included in the 21 — David Hewitt, Matthew Fletcher, Ben Holcroft, Joe Hartley and Gregory. Big forwards Phil Joy and Luke Nelmes are still out injured, as is young half-back James Barran, who damaged a groin last time out.

There will have to be at least one change for Barran, but whether there will be others remains to be seen.

With doubts about props Sam Brooks and Lewis Hatton, Swinton have signed experienced front-rower Tom Spencer on loan from Leigh Centurions.

Aged 30 and standing 6ft3in, Spencer will add know-how, strength and size to a Lions pack that was second best last time out in a forward battle highlighted by stand-out performances from Oldham’s Martyn ‘Rambo’ Reilly and Swinton’s Nick Gregson.

Both Gregson and new-boy Spencer have played on loan for Roughyeds in the past.

Lions coach Stuart Littler said: “We are travelling light on troops at the moment and I’ll be excited to see Tom (Spencer) in a Swinton jersey.”

Spencer told the Lions website: “I know how much rivalry there is (in these Oldham-Swinton derbies) and what it means to players and fans. At the moment I’m not looking further ahead than Friday.”

In the last game, which Swinton won 23-14, they played without the injured Liam Forsyth (centre), Kiwi Geronimo Doyle (full-back) and forwards Brooks and Paddy Jones. Early in the game they lost Hatton with a bicep injury.

+ Tomorrow’s return game at Bower Fold kicks off at 5.15pm and will be streamed live on Our League. It’s free to Oldham season-ticket holders but everyone else can watch it for £4.95 if they buy before midnight and for £10 thereafter.

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AS lockdown restrictions start to ease, now is the time for everyone connected with Oldham RLFC to do all they can to help with getting income from our Club Cash lottery back to where it was before the pandemic started to bite.

This is vital for the club and its finances which, as you all know, have taken a massive hit in the past 12 months.

Collectors will be returning to door-to-door visits in the next few weeks and we hope people who suspended payments will pick up where they left off as we strive and work hard to get back to where we were before the pandemic caused us to lose 50 per cent of our lottery income.

Many of our regular punters, who would normally pay a collector, have answered our calls for help by finding other ways to pay and to retain their chances of winning prizes.

To those people we are very grateful and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them once again for their loyal and continued support.

The lottery, of course, is potentially one of our biggest fund-raisers and for as little as £1 a week — more if you wish — you can help the club immensely and at the same time have chances to win £1,000, £100, £50, £25 or one of ten consolation prizes of £10.

That’s the present prize structure. There’s every chance it will be increased once we are out of lockdown, door-to-door collections start again and we get back to some sort of normality.

In the meantime you can join, or start up again, by contacting the club on 07904 898177 or by email to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

For more information about the lottery, and for the “great opportunities” provided by our partnership with the National Youth and Community Development Association (NYCDA) go our Club Cash page.

There, you will find all the results and a detailed statement about getting back to normal with the help of our not-for-profit partners.

All proceeds from the partnership will continue to support the club and help us to meet the aims of our Club Cash activities, particularly in its aims and objectives to be an active stakeholder in the local community.

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