OLD rivals Keighley Cougars stand in the way of a League One Cup semi-final spot for Barrow Raiders.
The sides have clashed twice already this season with Barrow winning both – the last one a 20-0 victory in the Challenge Cup.
Despite the seemingly one-sided outcomes, Raiders coach Paul Crarey does not believe it will be a foregone conclusion at Craven Park this Sunday (kick-off 2pm).
Keighley played it tough against red-hot League One title favourites Toronto Wolfpack in their last encounter before finally losing and Carey is expecting no let-up from the cup holders in the quarter-finals.
But Crarey is desperate to see progress for the club and especially for Barrow’s loyal support, and he dreams of giving them a great day out in the final at Blackpool next month.
Crarey is ready to ring the changes despite an overwhelming 82-0 win over Hemel Stags in their last match.
Fans can expect him to field his strongest side available against the cup holders, but he warned: “We have played them in a friendly and we played them in the Challenge Cup and they have got better every time. They have got a new coach, new players and new structures and you can see what is trying to be put together.”
Barrow rested seven players ahead of the Keighley clash with Crarey ready to bring some back in for the game.
“We want to get through to the final, they’re the holders of the cup so I think it is going to be a great game,” he added.
“Some people don’t rate the cup competition, but it’s probably the only cup competition, apart from the league, that anyone could win in our division.
“So it means a lot to the club. It will be a great day out for the fans if we can get there. We want to get there this year, we have got a squad that are capable of winning it.
“But Keighley will be a massive hurdle. We will be looking for and expecting a really stiff challenge.
“They have got threats all over the field, we are not going to take them lightly. We have trained hard all week getting ready for a physical encounter.”
Back Brett Carter, one game away from his 150th professional appearance, misses the match after picking up multiple fractures to his face collected during last week’s outing and he could be out of action for up to six weeks.
However, winger or centre Chris Fleming has been given the all clear after suffering from disc problems and could come into the reckoning.
Looking ahead to this part of the season which sees Barrow also facing a Challenge Cup Fifth Round game at York and visits to Newcastle Thunder and Toronto, Crarey added: “The fun starts now, we have got to roll our sleeves up this weekend and start with Keighley.
“We are ready for it I think it will be a really tough game. I hope numbers turn up to watch us play because I think they will be in for a treat.”
Catch Barrow’s Facebook page to see Crarey’s full pre-match interview and watch the reaction from the 2016 supporter of the year when he meets his favourite player.
See you on match day.