Now Neal gets 2-match banDate published: Wednesday, September 2, 2015
FIRST the bad news . . . bidding to seal a League One top-place finish, Oldham will go into their last two games against Swinton Lions and Oxford without the suspended Sammy Gee and Adam Neal.
Now the good news . . . both will be available for the top-two promotion decider if, as seems likely, Roughyeds qualify.
Gee’s two-match ban was sorted out when he submitted an ‘Early Guilty Plea’ on a grade C charge of punching in the 28-16 win at Newcastle, whose teenage winger Macauley Hallett, also sent off in the same incident, copped a five-match suspension.
Neal was subsequently charged with a grade C reckless tackle in the 28-12 home win against Barrow after being sin-binned by referee Jon Roberts.
Charged with grade C offences, both Gee and Neal were liable for up to three-match bans had they not opted to go down the ‘Early Guilty Plea’ route.
Initially, Oldham were to by-pass that method of pleading in prop-forward Neal’s case and instead make representation at last night’s disciplinary committee hearing by both the player and his club chairman Chris Hamilton.
Club and player later had second thoughts, however, and chose the safer option.
Explained Hamilton: “Adam didn’t want to run the risk of a three-match ban which would have ruled him out of the promotion decider if we are in it.
“We weren’t happy with his C grading, but even if we had gone before the panel he was always going to get at least a one-match ban, which would have ruled him out of the Swinton game anyway.
“All things considered we had second thoughts and felt an ‘Early Guilty Plea’ was the best course of action to eliminate the risk of a three-match ban.
“At any other time of the season it might have been viewed differently, but we are where we are and it is what it is. We have to take it on the chin and get on with it.”
Neither of the Oldham players is eligible to opt for ‘Early Guilty’ if they re-appear on a disciplinary charge within the next 12 months.
The Roughyeds’ most experienced prop, Neal has played in 23 and Gee in 22 of Oldham’s 25 cup and league games this season, so they won’t be easily replaced.
After a week off, the players reported back for training last night and were subjected to a tough and physical session.
Coach Scott Naylor will have 21 players fit and available for Sunday’s 1 v 3 showdown with Swinton at Whitebank — a game that will have a huge bearing on final places of the top two or three sides in League One.
Elliott Liku (shoulder), Jack Holmes (foot) and new boy Will Hope, who has still to make his Oldham debut, have all been cleared to play.
Said Naylor: “The boys were back in the swing of things and they looked better for their break. It was a tough session and they’re going to be sore, but they’ll all be right for weekend.
“I’ll have to switch the team around a bit, but both wingers are back, Will Hope is available, Elliott Liku is okay after his shoulder problem so we’ll have a strong team out.
“We’re the two form teams of the division, 11 wins in a row plays nine wins in a row, so we’ll have to be at our best to get the rewards.”
* Ring the club office on (0161) 624 9630 Ext 70552 to book hospitality suite places on Sunday, priced at £25 (including match entrance fee) or £15 for season-ticket holders. Price includes pre-match food, interviews with chairman and coach pre-match and with man-of-the-match and champagne-moment winners post-match.