Bad news for Alex

Date published: Saturday, March 3, 2012

ALEX Thompson, Oldham’s promising young forward, has been charged by the RFL with striking an opponent.

He is alleged to have been involved in an off-the-ball incident with Dewsbury forward Dwayne Barker which referee Jamie Bloem placed on report in the 46th minute of last Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup clash at Whitebank.

His case will go before the league’s disciplinary committee on Tuesday — five days before Oldham go to Workington Town in their opening game of the 2012 Co-operative Championship One campaign.

If he were to plead guilty or be found guilty, a match suspension would rule him out of the big kick-off.

Oldham are in the process of reviewing the incident on DVD before discussing it with 21-year-old Thompson and deciding what action to take.

Under new disciplinary procedures, he can plead guilty and take a one-match ban or contest it, attend Tuesday’s judiciary, and face the possibility of getting a two-match ban if the hearing went against him.

The former Warrington youngster, highly rated at Whitebank, has broken into the first-team squad this season after starring in the Oldham reserve team which won last season’s Reserves Championship.

He is included in a 23-man squad from which coach Tony Benson will pick his 17 to face Keighley Cougars at Cougar Park on Sunday (2 pm kick off) in the Roughyeds’ fourth and final pool game.

Selection will hinge on late fitness tests on Matthew Fogarty, who damaged an ankle last Sunday, and on two players who missed that game through injury, Valu Bentley (ankle) and Paul Ballard (knee).

Also in the squad are veteran forward Paul Smith and the two recent signings from Widnes Vikings, Jack Reid and Tom Rigby.

Squad: Greenwood, Robinson, Cookson, Fogarty, Gillam, Brocklehurst, Ballard, Rigby, Roden, Dallimore, Reid, Boults, Clough, Gilchrist, Clarke, Ward, Thompson, Smith, Bentley, Noone, Whitmore, Ellison, Johnson.

Roughyeds hope to build on the fightback that earned them a draw in South Wales and their second-half performance against Dewsbury which produced 24 unanswered points in a whirlwind 18-minute spell.

Said coach Tony Benson: “We are getting better and better each week.

“We are getting close to a point where everything will click. That will be a quantum leap for us.”

Whatever the result, Oldham want to put on a good team effort with which to build momentum for the first league game at Workington.

They will face a tough test at Keighley, who are in the Championship and who have bolstered their squad this year with the signing of three former Super League stars with Wakefield, Paul March, Sam Obst and Michael Korkidas.

In the NRC so far they lost 22-16 at home to Batley before drawing 24-24 in Toulouse and then hammering Rochdale away 40-16.

Player-coach Jason Demetriou, a former Wakefield captain, said: “Our aim is to improve week on week, but another goal is to reach the last eight in the Northern Rail Cup and this is our chance to do it.”

The Junction Inn are running a free bus to Whitebank on Thursday night for the Reserves first game of the season against Sheffield Eagles, which kicks off at 7.45pm.

Transport will leave the Junction at 6.45pm. To book ring 0161 633 2759.