JUST days before the first hit-out against Oldham last Sunday, Barrow Raiders coach Paul Crarey said: “It’s a bit like caged tiger syndrome,” writes Raiders columnist Tony Colyer.

Unfortunately for the decent pre-season crowd of 1,119 in attendance, it was a very frustrating watch and there were no caged tigers on display.

As Paul said himself, we lacked enthusiasm – which is a bit worrying considering this was the first game for four months.

Oldham played very well and are the 7/4 favourites to win League One, and they always provide good, competitive opposition on an annual basis.

However, although friendlies are not about the result – which is regularly quoted when you lose – it is hard to understand how a team in the division below with a budget a fraction of Barrow’s can succeed at Craven Park.

Teamwork was Oldham’s strength, on defence and attack, but the visitors had stand-out players in full-back Richie Hawkyard, prop Scott Law and two-try centre Zack McComb.

Unfortunately, our debutants looked out of sorts but that happens, and we move on. I’m sure Paul has watched the video and addressed the issues, as tomorrow we take on our friends from up the coast, Whitehaven, which is always a tough encounter.

Haven are going through transition and appointed Gary Charlton as head coach upon the departure of Carl Forster to Rochdale Hornets. Last week they were comprehensively beaten by neighbours Workington Town 24-6 in the Ike Southward trophy and have been quoted 10/1 to win League One.

Haven’s budget is very limited, based on diminishing crowds and the surprise pull-out of a local consortium last season. However, they have assembled a decent squad which still includes their two loyal Papua New Guinea stars Dion Aiye and Jessie Joe Parker who have been consistent performers since their arrival at the recreation ground.

Hopefully Parker will be able to play tomorrow as it will be interesting to see our three new Papua New Guineans in opposition.

Whitehaven’s first league game isn’t until February 17 with a home game against Keighley Cougars, but that fixture is looking more doubtful by the day.

A bid to buy the club from a consortium headed by former chairman Mike O’Neill has been rejected and there is growing concern that the club will be unable to fulfil their fixtures.

It’s ironic former Raiders chairman David Sharpe announced our financial plight on the same day Keighley did last July, but look at the difference today.

Steve Neale and the board have injected plenty of energy and enthusiasm off the field ,which has improved our financial standing. That will hopefully be replicated on the field, starting tomorrow.

Keep the turnstiles turning.