THE chance to gain a money-spinning tie later in the competition is the carrot for Cougars as they enter the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup at North Wales Crusaders on Sunday.

Keighley coach Craig Lingard admits the tricky third-round draw at their unpredictable League One rivals could have been easier.

But he expects an entertaining encounter in Wrexham and knows victory could see them land a plum tie further down the line.

Championship clubs enter the next stage before four Super League clubs join the competition the round after.

Lingard said: “From our point of view we have to think about the long-term goals for the season.

“Our main ambition is the league – that’s our priority but on the flip side if we can get through this round and some of the bigger boys come in, you’ve got an opportunity to get a nice lucrative tie at home.

“We’re not going to win the Challenge Cup – that’s not being defeatist, that is being realistic – but our ambition is to get as far as we can in order to get a big cup tie against a big team that is going to bring some money into the club.”

Lingard admits he has mixed emotions about a competition which some feel has lost its lustre.

He said: “It depends what head I’ve got on.

“As a fan I value the Challenge Cup immensely. I grew up in an era when there was still that magic in the Challenge Cup – anyone could beat anyone and you got the cup final shocks with Featherstone beating Hull and, in the more modern day, with Sheffield beating Wigan. You still had that bit of romance about the cup.

“Speaking with my professional head on, you don’t really get these shocks any more. I know Swinton beat Huddersfield last year but they are very few and far between.”

Keighley got their league season off to a fine start by beating potential promotion rivals Workington Town 44-34 in a Cougar Park thriller.

Lingard wants to build on that momentum this weekend, though he may tinker with his line-up.

He explained: “We will look at our squad and there might be a couple of changes within that as there are still some questions that are unanswered.

“Some people were unlucky to be left out of the 17 last weekend so they might come in.

“We want to keep that consistency building up for the league season but we also want to make sure our camp is as happy as they can be.”

Cougars were comprehensive winners over Crusaders last season but Lingard warned they can be dangerous opponents.

He said: “They can be hit and miss. We put 50 points on them last season and then they turned over York away and drew against Whitehaven at home.

“They’ve got really good performances in them and they have strengthened this year and brought Steve Roper in from Whitehaven.

“(Head coach) Mike Grady likes his teams to play a bit of rugby and so do we.

“I don’t think it will be a boring game and there should be plenty of points scored so it should be a good spectacle.”