Raiders ready for League One Cup clash
BARROW Raiders begin their League One Cup journey against Rochdale Mayfield tomorrow, with coach Paul Crarey hoping to see his side progress all the way to the final.
However, he is fully aware of the reception that awaits his Barrow side from the top amateur outfit coached by former Halifax boss Matt Calland.
Rochdale will be keen to take Barrow’s scalp and there will be no room for passengers when the teams collide at the Mayfield Sports Centre, which the National Conference League Premier Division outfit share with Rochdale Town Football Club (kick-off 2pm).
Amazingly the sides paired in the Challenge Cup Third Round, but on this occasion Mayfield head to Craven Park on February 26 (kick-off 2pm).
But for now all of Barrow’s immediate concentration will be on League One Cup glory and the dream of reaching the final in Blackpool on May 27 during the Summer Bash weekend.
Crarey, has watched Mayfield in action and has been impressed by what he has seen, and has paid them the top respect by fielding his strongest side possible for the tie.
That will mean the return of the exciting half-back combination of Jamie Dallimore and Lewis Charnock, who has been given the all clear after passing a fitness test.
There will also be plenty of strength in the pack to combat any force down the middle, with experienced Martin Aspinwall ready to keep a tight rein on major Mayfield threats.
There to support him are expected to be Oliver Wilkes, Nathan Mossop, Joe Bullock, Danny Morrow and Jarrad Stack.
“We are going with as strong a side as possible, on merit and what they have shown in pre-season games,” said Crarey, who could also have Tom Loxam available.
“We have gone with a very strong middle and a side that will try and be error free, not get drawn into anything, but to try and go there and get a win.
“We want to win the game and get out of there.
“It will be a hostile environment, an amateur ground which is not ideal, but we have just got to go there and deal with everything that is thrown at us. It is going to be pretty tough, they are a good side, we have got to treat them with the utmost respect.
“But we are looking forward to it, we are ready for a run-out and ready for the challenge.”
Crarey doesn’t want to see Barrow dragged into a dog-fight and is hoping to see his side get support from the officials.
He said it was hugely important for Barrow to progress in the competition.
“We are tipped to win it, I think we have got a chance of doing well,” added the coach.
“I would rather have played a professional than an amateur side because the lads’ mindset would probably have been different, but again we have prepared really well all week and we want to try and get the fans to Blackpool.
“You need a little bit of luck, and if we stay injury free and progress through this round we have got a chance because there are only two more games.”
Looking ahead to the Challenge Cup tie Crarey is happy to have the game at home as it means added revenue for Barrow.
“We want to progress and do as well as we can in every competition,” said Crarey, who also has one eye on Barrow’s League One opener against visitors York on March 4.
“We are not going to win the Challenge Cup but we want to get on a little bit, get some revenue for the club and hopefully get a big side at Craven Park.”
Recalling words of wisdom passed on by rugby league legend Spanky McFarlane to Crarey, he added: “He always told me always pick your strongest side for the paying public, so that’s what I tend to do.”
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See you on match day.