Bamber Bridge boss Joey Collins steps up pre-season preparations

Joey Collins
Joey Collins
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Bamber Bridge boss Joey Collins believes things are starting to come together as his men prepare for the big kick-off in just over a fortnight.

Brig begin the new NPL Premier Division campaign with an away trip to Matlock Town, and they finalise their pre-season preparations with a game at Clitheroe this weekend, followed by a trip to Tadcaster Albion a week tomorrow.

Over the past month, Collins has organised a mixture of friendlies against higher-league opposition as well as teams who are below them in the football pyramid.

The manager has been pleased with what he has seen so far and all the friendlies have been of great benefit in different ways for his men.

Against Football League opposition such as Preston North End, Morecambe and Burnley Under-23s, Brig have performed well, suffering only narrow defeats.

But against lesser opposition such as Squires Gate and AFC Blackpool, Brig really flexed their muscles – enjoying big victories.

Now Collins believes the time has come to test themselves against teams of a similar ilk – hence the arrangements of games against Clitheroe and Tadcaster. “I thought we did really well against Burnley last week,” Collins said.

“They were a very good side on the ball and played some attractive stuff.

“We spent a lot of time without the ball, but we kept a good shape and limited them to very little efforts on goal. They scored a great header from a cross to win it.

“I thought the shape we played against Squires Gates on Saturday worked really well and we were 5-0 up by half-time.

“It was really well deserved. They did have a couple of chances but we played some really good stuff. We have been asking the lads to take on two or three different formations.

“We used the diamond formation in the first half at Squires Gate.

“We did the same against AFC Blackpool and it suits us because it gets some of the footballers we have on the pitch on the ball more.

“I think the next two games gives us a chance to test ourselves against the type of opposition which we will be coming up against on regular basis, although both Clitheroe and Tadcaster are from the division below. It’s good playing the pro clubs especially for your fitness levels because you spend a lot of time out of possession, but sometimes you need to be the ones to get on the ball.”

Collins – who has watched one of his summer arrivals Gary Pett hit the ground running by scoring goals in pre-season – is hoping another of his additions Danny Pilkington will be available for the trip to Shawbridge after suffering a number of niggling injuries.