COUGARS head coach Rhys Lovegrove has admitted it is important his side make their home a fortress, with a big game against Rochdale coming up this weekend.

Keighley began their League 1 campaign on May 9 with a stunning 44-18 home victory over promotion rivals Doncaster.

But they were brought back down to earth with a heavy 40-18 defeat at Barrow on Sunday.

Keighley are back on home turf this weekend, and even better, they will be running out in front of up to 850 fans.

Asked if good form at Cougar Park will be key to a promotion push, Lovegrove said: “Your home ground needs to be a fortress.

“It’s important for us to win these early games here against tough opposition, or at least put in the performances to do so.”

Lovegrove added: “The fans being back will be huge, and it will be great to realise and remember just how much they mean to us.

“They’re a manifestation of what we are as a club, part of the Keighley community, and we’re being asked to represent all of that.

“It’s been such a long time and we want to put in a good performance for them.”

But Rochdale won’t be beaten by fan power alone, and asked where Keighley need to be careful this Sunday, Lovegrove said: “Rochdale are a very well coached side who play with a lot of tempo.

“They’re good in the middle and full of experience too, with Fuifui Moimoi and Sean Penkywicz, Sean got four tries the other week.

“But we can’t let that distract from ourselves, we have to get our own house in order before worrying about others.”

That house’s foundations were shook by the defeat to Barrow and asked what went wrong, Lovegrove said: “It was just in those small effort areas.

“We went to Barrow, a top team, so we had to raise our game, but we forgot about those small things that make a big difference.

“It didn’t help losing Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e and Dan Parker early on to what look like muscular injuries. We have a triage this week to assess them further.”

On the positives, Lovegrove said: “There were still a lot of good, hard-working performances.

“Kyle Kesik did well, and though Jack Arnold got a bit emotional at times, he was good.

“Jack Coventry warrants a mention too, as he was straight on when QLT went off and played 35 straight minutes in the first half.

“He went about his business well and was busy, but all in all, it just wasn’t enough from us on the day to beat a good Barrow side.”

Asked if Keighley’s results so far show how unpredictable the league is, Lovegrove said: “I stand by what I said at the start of the year about how competitive it is.

“Look at how far Coventry pushed Barrow in their opener and how Doncaster bounced back to beat Rochdale.

“Hunslet and Workington are right up there, North Wales have started well and even West Wales have shown promise.”