Keighley ARLFC coach Keith Dixon admitted Saturday’s BARLA York-shire Cup quarter-final tie at Drighlington could not be much tougher – but insisted an upset was still possible.
His side visit the reigning Pennine League Premier Division champions as clear underdogs after the Leeds outfit beat Hull Wyke 31-22 in their delayed third-round clash last week.
But Keighley are bang in form, having already dumped out holders Huns-let Old Boys and Dixon believes they can spring another surprise.
He said: “They are fav-ourites with their history but we will go there with confidence, knowing we are a good side and that, if we can play to our capabilities, we can cause an upset.”
Dixon’s upbeat mood stems from Keighley’s unbeaten start to their Pennine League Championship campaign, which sees them a point behind leaders West Bowling with a game in hand.
“It’s been an exceptional start and I couldn’t have asked for any better,” said the former Cougars player, who is in his second season as coach since Keighley Albion and Keighley Town merged to form one club in July 2011.
“We’ve not had the same 17 for a match yet this season but that shows the strength in depth we have, even though we no longer have a second team.”
Having conceded the second fewest number of points in the table, Keigh-ley’s key strength has been their defence but the return of Joe Copperwaite has boosted their attacking options.
The pacy centre enjoyed a fruitful spell last season but then switched his focus to playing golf, featuring for Branshaw’s scratch team and gaining selection for the Bradford Union representative side.
Dixon said: “Joe played ten games for us last season and scored seven tries. He says he has missed it and fancies having another crack.
“He played against West-gate Wolves in our last game and looked like he had never been away.
“His return has given me a headache in terms of selection but it is a real bonus.”
On the minus side, Cougars’ return to training means Keighley are set to be without Josh Lynam and Danny Snowden, who are part of Paul March’s first-team squad.
Dixon admitted that Drighlington, who have conceded the least number of points in the top flight to currently lie in third place, will be a particularly tough nut to crack on their own patch.
He said: “They play on a very small pitch which suits them down to the ground.
“They are something of a bogey side for me. As coach of Keighley Albion, I can’t remember ever beating them.
“They gave us a bit of a hiding in the Pennine President’s Cup semi-final last year (winning 44-6) but the lads are keen to test themselves against them again.
“They set the standard and it will be a good benchmark for us.”