FINANCIAL woes and a player exodus have contributed to a difficult few weeks for Keighley Cougars, but head coach Craig Lingard is hoping that tomorrow night's clash with Oldham will provide a tonic for the club.

A much-needed 32-16 win over Hemel Stags last weekend will give them confidence going into a tough game against their Lancashire opponents, and Lingard is delighted that the game has been moved from Sunday afternoon to a Friday evening.

After avoiding a clash with the FIFA World Cup final, he enthused: "I think its a sensible decision, although some people might be disappointed after making work and family commitments as its such a short turn around.

"England were playing when we had our last home game against York and the crowd was less than we thought it would be. I think other clubs might get their game moved from that Sunday as well.

"I think Friday nights are brilliant too. I used to love playing under the lights when I was younger, and the atmosphere was always different to a Sunday afternoon game. It also gives the players the weekend off to do what they want."

Oldham currently sit third in the Betfred League One table and Lingard is wary of the dangers their high-flying opponents possess.

He said: "They're a really professional side who do the basics very well. They are tough down the middle and their forward pack dominates so our men need to be on their game so we can get quick rucks and slow them down.

"They've also got some good strike players on the edge in the back row so it's going to be a really tough battle. However, I think they're struggling a bit with injuries, so we might catch them out with a few players missing.

"I think the game is going to be won and lost down the middle though, so it's a challenge for our guys who play there to accept."

Lingard will certainly be hopeful that tomorrow's opponents have players missing, as his squad continues to be decimated by the club's financial crisis.

Josh Tonks and Ryan Wright are among the latest players to leave Cougar Park, with both joining League One rivals Hunslet. Young Alfie Seeley has rejoined the club, but a failed transfer has left Lingard frustrated.

He said: "Anthony Bowman isn't coming to the club any more as he's going back to Australia. He messaged to tell me at 6:30 on the morning of the Hemel game so it wasn't ideal preparation.

"We're back down to one half back which isn't ideal but we're trying to ring round and look at people who we can bring in. There are constraints but we've got to try and get as many players in as we can.

"If we can't get them in and we're stuck with what we've got though, we'll work with that."

It was a hard-fought win for Cougars against Hemel, with the players claiming that "it was the hottest conditions they had ever played in". Given the difficult circumstances though, Lingard was pleased with their performance.

The exodus has also allowed some fringe players to come to the fore, with the Cougars head coach saying: "Jose Kenga has been waiting for a shot and Trae O'Sullivan has done well the last couple of weeks he's played.

"As well as the players that have left, we have Brad Nicholson banned for eight games, which was the minimum suspension for his Grade F offence against York, and Darrell Griffin injured.

"Trae also picked up an ankle problem at Hemel so he could be out for a few weeks. It's not ideal but it does give people the opportunity to put their hand up (reserves Aaron Levy and Joshua Smith made their debuts at Hemel) and keep the shirt."

Finally, Lingard was pleased that there has been progress with the potential takeover of the club but he admitted: "It needs to be sorted quickly.

"It will give the players peace of mind for this year, but at the moment it's meant that we're four or five weeks behind other clubs with trying to retain players for next season. As soon as it's done, we can look forward."