No excuses – we have to give our loyal supporters something to shout about.

That was the message from Barrow Raiders head coach Paul Crarey ahead of tomorrow’s basement battle against Rochdale Hornets, the only side below them in the Championship.

Barrow were beaten 20-8 at Spotland back in March so revenge is an added incentive in the bid to end a 13-match run without a victory and take a step closer to safety.

Crarey agreed that it is a must-win game but, encouraged by the first half performance in Sunday’s Summer Bash at Blackpool – the Raiders led Sheffield Eagles 8-6 at the break before losing 30-16 – he is in the position for the first time to have the luxury of a near full-squad to call on.

“People have been saying we are not playing well, that we are doing this wrong, or that wrong but that was only the second time this season that we have been able to field a full-strength team.

“So there are no excuses this week. We have to learn from the sort of mistakes where one try leads to a second and then a third.

“Although we have been losing, we are competing and have been giving teams a good game and crowds have not dipped below 1200 this season, which shows we are all in this together.

“This is a really tough division this season but we are fighting hard and we can still do it.”

The run of 13 winless games has led to mounting pressure and criticism on the coach who added: “We are being told to go out and get some players. We have tried to bring people in but it is not as easy as that. We can’t just go down the road and get Championship players.

“As far as personal criticism goes I know that if you lose the dressing room as a coach you are finished and I have certainly not done that.

“Most of the fans have been brilliant to me but this is not all about me. I am here for the club. Personal abuse can be derogatory for the team but that is the nature of modern sport.”

A win over Rochdale would kick-start Barrow’s survival bid but with Widnes almost certainly pulling clear as the season wears on – though defeat buy Leigh at Blackpool halted their progress up the table – there are only five serious candidates for the two relegation places.

With the top eight breaking away (Widnes would be there without the 12 point deduction), Barrow are joined in the dogfight by Batley, Dewsbury, Swinton and Rochdale.

There is still half a season to go, leaving plenty of time and opportunity to escape the clutches of League One and Dewsbury, with three wins and a draw at Craven Park to their credit, are one of the teams in Crarey’s sights.

“They have great wins over Featherstone and Widnes, but it is a whole different game when you are playing opponents in the same position. There is so much more tension,” he explained.

Meanwhile, there is no hiding the uncomfortable fact that Barrow’s Championship future is under threat and Hornets are aboard the same leaking boat, so the ‘must-win’ tag applies to both clubs.

As Paul Crarey pointed out: This is no time for excuses.