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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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