The fan factor

Date published: Friday, June 4, 2010

OLDHAM boss Tony Benson believes the Fan Factor can sweep Roughyeds to victory — and take his side back to the top of Championship One — in Sunday’s crucial top-three clash with Blackpool Panthers at the Whitebank Stadium.

Blackpool usually play in front of tiny audiences of 350 and they have few travelling supporters.

Benson, therefore, is banking on Oldham fans turning up in force to provide an intimidating atmosphere and to give Roughyeds the edge in what promises to be a fiercely-fought and tight encounter.

More than 1,000 fans have watched two of the three games played at Whitebank so far and Oldham’s Kiwi team boss hopes the figure will creep up towards the 1,500 capacity for this one.

“Vocal support from a big crowd on a tight little ground can make a big difference,” he said, “and I’m asking our regulars to bring a friend so that we can get close to filling the place.

“Blackpool have assembled an expensive team. They’ve been going well and smashing scoring records along the way. They suffered their first defeat at York last week and they will be smarting from that.

“We respect them, but we believe we are also one of the top teams in this division and we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Roughyeds received good news in the build-up to the big game when a specialist’s report gave winger John Gillam the all-clear after his recent shoulder trouble. He had a precautionary scan which confirmed there was nothing to worry about.

Craig Robinson, who missed last week’s win at Workington with a groin injury, is still not ready to return.

Mark Brocklehurst is also out of the running, having been away all week on work commitments.

Matty Ashe (hip), Martin Roden (ankle) and Paul Reilly (knee) will be tested tomorrow before Benson can finalise his side, which is unlikely to show much change from the team that won at Workington last Sunday.

Reilly comes into the squad to join the 17 who played at Derwent Park plus travelling reserve, Scott Mansfield.

“The side won’t be finalised until later,” said Benson. “Two or three players will be assessed on Saturday and it will be on the outcome of those assessments that the starting line-up is finalised.”

Roughyeds reserves are also in action at Whitebank on a double-header weekend. They play Hunslet Hawks tomorrow, kick off 3.00pm.

Coach John Hough has not yet announced his side, but it will be similar to that which beat York City Knights 48-16 at Whitebank a week ago.