Oldham worrying over promotion race

Considering the often meaningless nature of games in the top two divisions, the promotion race in Championship 1 could prove the highlight of the year.

For those that miss out on a top four spot, it means lengthy road trips to ground-breaking new professional clubs up and down the country, and it something that the likes of Doncaster, Rochdale and Oldham are looking to avoid.

With Gateshead, London and the two Welsh clubs likely to be staying in the third tier, alongside the so far three new confirmed clubs in Northampton Rebels, Hemel Stags and Gloucestershire All Golds, it seems that it’s a case of six doesn’t go in to four between the remaining clubs from Yorkshire and the north west.

So far, the three Cumbrian clubs – Barrow, Workington and Whitehaven – together with Doncaster are heading the race for the Championship in 2013, leaving Oldham and Rochdale fans sweating over their club’s future.

For the Roughyeds in particular, five straight defeats have left them languishing in sixth place in the table, and coach Tony Benson is under pressure.

One fan felt so aggrieved by the current situation, compounded by Saturday’s 35-30 defeat at the hands of South Wales Scorpions, that he wrote in to Love Rugby League to express his concern.

His frustration appeared to stem from the lack of confidence from both fans and players, and suggested that tension is beginning to increase between Benson and the club’s fans, with concerns being raised about the future of the club going forwards.

Such division could result in a tough season in the third tier in 2013, although worries about meeting the criteria for promotion are still apparently troubling the Greater Manchester club.

A man that could be in the frame to turn things around, should Benson be moved on, is former Halifax coach Matt Calland, who enjoyed spells at both Oldham and Rochdale during a playing career that took in Super League with Bradford, Hull and Huddersfield.

Former Leigh coach Benson will be hoping he has what it takes to guide Oldham to the Championship, and it is worth noting that he’s had to deal with a horrific injury crisis, which has triggered their collapse after they had made a promising start to the league campaign.

Either way, it is a refreshing change to be debating the effects of what happens on the pitch, rather than the boardroom or otherwise.

The Championship 1 promotion race will no doubt become one of the most dramatic events of the rugby league year.

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