First half showing costs Brig in Trophy defeat

Matt Mahoney
Matt Mahoney
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Bamber Bridge were dumped out of the Lancashire Trophy after a poor first half display saw them defeated 2-1 against Clitheroe.

After only three minutes, the home side found themselves two goals down as Sefton Gonzales broke the deadlock after just 30 seconds and then Alex Ralph doubled the lead not long after.

A spirited second half display saw Brig rally with Darren Green, Ally Waddecar, Simon Wiles and Matt Mahoney all spurning chances.

Matt Lawlor did pull a goal back for Brig late on but Simon Garner’s Clitheroe held on to seal a semi final spot.

It was a horror start to the game for Neil Crowe’s side at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, with only 30 seconds on the clock, former Bamber Bridge striker Gonzales picked up the ball inside the area and after turning Paul Alexander he thunder bolted an effort in off the crossbar with his left foot.

Before Brig could even settle the visitors had doubled their lead, player-manager Simon Garner picked out Ralph with a fine eight yard pass and before the onrushing Brig defenders could get near him, the latter struck a sweet effort over the head of Harry Campbell and into the top corner from 25 yards.

Boss Crowe immediately made tactical changes switching Waddecar and Wiles on the right and left wings.

Together the pair had small periods of success getting in behind fullbacks Danny Wharton and Seydou Bamba.

The home side did eventually settle down but the Blues always looked dangerous with the impressive Garner pulling the strings in midfield.

As the half hour mark came terrible stormy conditions graced the stadium as howling winds swirled across the stadium and huge drops of rain pounding off the greasy surface.

Andy Bell and Green were both ruled offside a number of times in the first half as the visiors back line looked to operate a high defensive line.

Early in the second half, Green shot tamely at on-loan Accrington Stanley ‘keeper Andrew Dawber and then Danny Brady intercepted a Waddecar pull back with a number of Brig players lurking inside the area.

Dawber then pulled off a tremendous save to keep Brig at bay, as he lept to his right to divert a Bell shot around the post with his fingertips.

The Clitheroe ‘keeper came to the rescue again shortly after the hour mark, after punching a Paul McKenna free-kick clear, skipper Matty Kay picked up the rebound and struck a volley from inside the area only to see it palmed away.

Sub Stu Vasey then took advantage of a slip on the edge of the Clitheroe box instead of shooting he squared it to an on rushing Wiles but with the goal at his mercy he blazed the ball over the bar.

The Blues, who had defended the majority of the second then had a fine chance to seal their place in the semi-final, Gonzalez broke down the left hand side, he skipped past sub Mahoney and pulled the ball back for Ralph but on the line was Green to deflect the shot wide.

Brig continued to push for an equaliser with Vasey playing a crucial role up front, his flick on found Waddecar and he played through Mahoney but he skied his effort over the bar from eight yards.

With just five minutes remaining Brig pulled a goal back, after Bamba clattered McKenna on the right wing, the former PNE midfielder dusted himself off to curl a free kick into the area and on hand was Lawlor who guided a header into the corner.

Not even a minute later, the on loan Stanley ‘keeper produced one of the saves of the match as he blocked a drilled Mahoney effort on the line.

Brig pressed for an all important equaliser with Glenn Steel seeing his header saved late on but it was Clitheroe who booked their place in the semi-final of the Lancashire Trophy.

Meanwhile, in one of the other quarter-final ties, Chorley made light work of North West Counties outfit AFC Darwen thrashing them 7-1.

Bamber Bridge:Campbell, Bowyer (Mahoney 67), Steel, Lawlor, Alexander (Vasey 54), Kay (c), Wiles, McKenna, Green, Bell (Marlow 67), Waddecar

Subs unused: Doughty, Parish.

Attendance: 126