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Long rallies fans to be 18th man at Swinton

Oldham head coach Sean Long has urged the club’s passionate fanbase to travel in number and provide an 18th man in Sunday’s Betfred Challenge Cup tie at Swinton Lions.

The Roughyeds bid to maintain their terrific start to the season with another win, fresh from a bruising derby triumph at home to Rochdale in front of their highest gate against their rivals in 21 years.

And speaking exclusively to Roughyeds TV ahead of the short trip to the Lions, Long is determined to treat a big following to another stylish performance.

“To win big games, it’s not always about the big play, it’s just sitting in the grind and doing the basics right,” said Long, who will know the club’s potential 5th round opponents before kick off.

“I want to see a professional team going out there doing their job, with everybody knowing their role and good clarity from the players on how we defend and attack.

“It’d be great to have them (the fans), I think that was probably one of the things that got us over the line against Barrow when we were coming downhill, the wind was with us and we were attacking towards our fans – it felt like a home game.

“To get as many fans down at Swinton, it will be like an 18th man.”

Despite a start to the season that has brought wins against Barrow, Halifax and Rochdale, Long has demanded continued improvement, adding that training this week has been one of the most fluent the team has produced since he took charge.

“It has been good, we had a bit of a learning day on Tuesday and tidied some stuff up what we needed to work on after Rochdale.

“We’re going a step up playing a championship team in Swinton, who are well drilled and quite aggressive, so we just need to focus on ourselves and play our normal game.

“It’s tough when you go 26-0 up at half time like we did against Rochdale, so we’ve touched on it and said we’ve got to play for the full eighty minutes.

“Going to Swinton is a tough place to go to get a win, having played there previously.

“It’s something the lads and I have brought up – we need to play for eighty minutes.”

Long has promised at least two changes to the side but has Ben O’Keefe available after he was found not guilty of a grade D punching charge following a successful appeal.

And the head coach believes there is enough Challenge Cup experience within the group to get the job done.

“There’ll be a couple of changes, we were delighted with Ben because he did nothing wrong regarding that, so that’s good news for us, but there’ll be other changes from last week.

“There’s a few of us who have been involved in Challenge Cup runs, Joe Wardle, Jordan Turner – sometimes I just let the players talk.”

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