Barrow Raiders number nine Nathan Mossop previews this weekend’s London Skolars clash as the team look to bounce back from recent defeats.

Paul Crarey’s side currently sit second in the Betfred League 1 table, having won 10 of their 14 games so far this season, and this Saturday welcome London Skolars for their penultimate home clash of the regular season.

Only Workington sit above with a record of nine wins, two defeats and a draw and just a 4% win percentage separate the two sides at the top of the table as the automatic promotion race heats up with just three games left of the regular season.

This weekend’s opponents in London Skolars currently sit ninth in the league table, claiming three wins so far this season and with a talented squad full with experience.

“To put things into perspective, obviously I would say there were some high expectations on squad at start of season,” said Mossop.

“We started off very well, winning games and now we’ve lost two on the bounce. It’s always difficult to be in that environment, especially when we’re coming into the business end of the season but there are still three games to go.

“We’ve got some tough games and Workington have some tough games. It’s about learning from them last two and finding out how we’re going to put them right this weekend against London.

“We can’t look any further than that. We always have a tough game against London and they’re a big side and enthusiast and sometimes can be a little bit unorthodox as well, so we’ve just have to put things right this weekend and then go into that Rochdale game which will be a massive game for us.

“There’s been some shock results in the competition. West Wales are a prime example, drawing with Doncaster and they ran Workington close a couple weeks back and London are the same. We’ve been there away and it was a real battle and if you ask some of the lads, physically it’s one of the toughest games we’ve had this season. We expect the same on Saturday. They’ll want to put up a good performance and will have nothing to lose as well so we’ve got to be on this weekend.”

2021 has seen Raiders grow on and off the field, with big crowds attending home fixtures at the Matt Johnson Prestige Stadium, including a crowd of more than 3,000 for Barrows’ home clash with Workington earlier this season.

Mossop added: “We’ve got a great fan base. When you think about what Steve Neale (chairman) and the board are doing off the field, it’s been a breath of fresh air coming back and playing in front of fans.

“They get behind us and there’s no better feeling than your hometown cheering you on. We have two home games and the Rochdale trip away, which is a big challenge. But like I say, we can’t look past this weekend and our attention is purely on London at the moment.”

Raiders, who were relegated at the end of the 2019 Championship season, will be looking to bounce back straight into the second tier, and have continued to grow and build their squad, including recent signings of Jake Emmitt and the capture of Ellis Gillam for the 2022 season.

“We’ve got a good squad,” said Mossop.

“We’ve got a good balance of youth and some great young kids like Ryan Johnston and Jake Carter that have come through our system. There’s a mixture of local lads that have come through the amateur ranks and signed professionally with Barrow and then the more experienced personnel like Jake Emmitt being one of them and Gary Wheeler being fit now as well and he’ll be a great asset to our team, and people like Adam Walne as well.

“Carl Forster has done a great job for us as well in the middle. He played a big 80 minutes over the weekend which is a credit to himself for a middle to play 80 minutes. We’ve got a great balance. Unfortunately, Covid has had an a bit of an impact on a couple of the lads who aren’t available just yet due to RFL return to play and a couple of injuries. If we put things into perspective, we’re second in the league. If we win on Saturday, I know Workington don’t play until Sunday, but we go top again, so keep things positive we’ve got all to play for in these last three games.

“I think the goal is obviously to be in the Championship next year. If we achieve that by winning the league that’ll be fantastic, but if not we go into the play-offs and the business end of the season. The focus as a group is building that momentum, forget about what everyone else is doing around us and focus on winning those three games and the rest will take care of itself.”