Bamber Bridge suffered a cruel exit in the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy semi-final after losing 2-0 to Evo-Stik League Premier Division high-flyers AFC Fylde.
Matthew Blinkhorn opened the scoring for AFC Fylde in the 31st minute, before Joe Booth scored a stoppage time penalty to seal the victory and a place in the final at Bolton Wanderers’ Reebok Stadium against league rivals Chorley.
The game started fairly slowly at the County Ground with chances hard to come by.
Both sides playing a wonderful passing game but struggling to break down the respected back lines.
Matt Lawlor had the first real effort of the game but his ambitious volley went wide off top the right hand corner.
Ally Waddecar, a thorn in the Fylde side all night caused full back Dave Hankin plenty of problems and winning a number of corners throughout the first half.
Brig skipper Matty Kay then neatly chipped a ball over-the-top and Waddecar found himself one-on-one hitting the ball on the full, but he could only be denied by an excellent one handed save by former Derby County goalkeeper Ben Hinchcliffe.
Fylde upped the ante and Brig’s Curtis Thompson was required to make an inch perfect headed clearance to deny Blinkhorn a free header.
The tricky Danny Lloyd then produced a fine save from Lee Dovey as the keeper tipped the ball over the bar but from the resulting corner, Fylde took the lead.
On-loan Telford man Sean Cooke whipped in a cross at pace and Blinkhorn peeled off his marker to calmly volley home into the top left hand corner from 12 yards.
The goal didn’t deflate Brig and the Irongate outfit should have been awarded a penalty five minutes before the break after the ball clearly struck Cooke on his hand but referee Gary Hilton waved away the claims much to the disgust of Brig boss Neil Crowe.
Dovey was then called into action again saving comfortably from Adam Sumner and then at the other end, Chris Marlow saw his header easily saved by Hinchcliffe.
Fylde started the brighter of the two in the second half, Lloyd having three early chances.
First he skewed a shot wide of goal before then cutting in from the right hand side and shooting straight at Dovey.
Michael Barnes then sent Lloyd through on goal but the winger could only drag his effort wide of the post.
Ex-Blackburn Rovers man Jerome Watt then had Brig’s first effort of the second half shooting straight at Hinchcliffe.
Barnes could and should have made it 2-0 but the winger opted to square the ball to Lloyd rather than going it alone and taking on Dovey.
Then the chance of the half for Brig, Thompson showed class down the right hand side dribbling into area and his cross found Williams two yards from goal but his effort was brilliantly saved by Hinchcliffe
Dovey then produced a fine save diving to his right from a Barnes effort.
Former Chorley man Andy Russell almost gifted Brig an equaliser as his back pass fell short of Hinchcliffe and sent Waddecar clear on goal.
The winger only had the goalkeeper to beat and hit an effort across the goal from the right hand side of the area but the ball rolled inches wide of the post.
Brig continued to press and were dominating the game, the returning Greg Johnstone seeing his header blocked on the line and Chris Marlow also having a shot blocked yards from goal.
But it was heartbreak for Brig in the dying moments of the game.
As they pushed men forward, Fylde broke, the ball was played through to Lloyd and the winger tumbled in the area leaving the referee no other option but to award a spot kick.
Booth stepped up and slotted the ball home in the right hand corner sending Dovey the wrong way and sealing a semi-final victory.
Bamber Bridge : - Dovey, Mahoney, Alexander (Buchan, 83) , Lawlor, Bowyer, Watt (Johnstone, 76) , Kay (c), Thompson, Marlow, Waddecar, Williams.
Subs not used : - Bonaminio, Reid, Reynolds
The final will be played on Monday, March 17 at the Reebok Stadium (kick off 7.45pm).