Brig struggle to find any rhythm on ping-pong pitch

Woodley Sports 2

Bamber Bridge 1

Bamber Bridge’s outside chances of a play-off were dealt a blow on Saturday when they slipped to a 2-1 defeat on the plastic pitch of Woodley Sports.

The artificial surface reduced the game to ‘ping pong’ at times and Tony Greenwood’s side struggled to adapt.

The match opened on a lively note when both teams scored within the first 10 minutes.

Brig went in front on six minutes when Matthew Jones headed home his first goal for his team, following a well-placed Martin Crowder cross.

They say you’re at your most vulnerable after scoring, and that was how it proved, as Brig’s lead lasted only 60 seconds.

Once again, Crowder was involved when upending a Woodley striker on the edge of the box.

Home skipper Sam Walker stepped forward to take the resultant free-kick and his shot deflected off the defensive wall, before striking the inside of the goalpost and flying into the net.

Bamber Bridge responded immediately and began to force the pace.

Morecambe loanee, Gavin Clark, came mighty close for the visitors on 25 minutes when his screaming volley from 30 yards flew narrowly wide of the goalpost.

There was little rhythm to the game with both sides tending to play the long-ball with little success, in front of a sparse crowd of just 81 hardy souls.

There was little improvement at the start of the second period, although a dangerous in-swinging corner-kick on 47 minutes by Sean Williams almost caught out Woodley goalkeeper Liam Higginbotham, who did well to tip the ball away to safety from under his crossbar.

Brig came close on the hour mark when Higginbotham saved a full-blooded drive from striker Louis Mayers at full stretch.

The Steelmen missed a golden opportunity on 71 minutes, when centre-forward Nathan Neequaye headed tamely into the hands of Brig goalkeeper, Ben Hinchliffe, when well placed.

However, the Cheshire side did not have long to wait for what, in the end, proved to be the winner.

A Brig attack broke down near the half-way line on 76 minutes, and after playing a neat one-two with right-back Matty Russell, Nathan Neequaye fired home an unstoppable drive beyond the reach of Hinchliffe.

Two minutes later it was mission impossible for the visitors when they were reduced to 10 men after Matthew Jones was dismissed for a second yellow card offence, following a spat with substitute Lee Blackshawe.

In the dying minutes Brig came close to an equaliser when skipper Michael White headed wide at the back post, following a Crowder free-kick.

However, this game will be remembered for its lack of quality on an artificial surface which did not lend itself to good football. Indeed, the game was reduced to a lottery.

Bamber Bridge : Hinchliffe, Bowyer, Crowder, L Atherton, White, Jones, M Atherton (Waddecar 64mins), Clark, Mayers, Williams (Black 64mins), Marlow. Unused Subs : Reynolds, A Taylor and Galliers.