Match report: Bamber Bridge 2-1 Northwich Victoria (aet)

Bamber Bridge vs. Northwich Victoria
Bamber Bridge vs. Northwich Victoria
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Seventeen-year-old Regan Linney came off the bench in extra-time to seal an Evo-Stik Division One North play-off final place for Bamber Bridge at the expense of Northwich Victoria.

Linney had only been on the pitch for five minutes before latching onto Waddecar’s through ball and expertly finishing past Tim Deasy from inside the penalty box.

The teenagers’ strike gave Bamber Bridge the narrowest of victories over Vics, who had pushed the hosts all the way over 120 minutes.

It was the hosts who took the lead two minutes before the interval, former Preston North End striker Jon Macken using all his experience to head Brig into the lead.

But the second half was a much more even contest, Vics used their aerial advantage and they finally equalised in the 75th minute, Richard Bennett finishing well after latching onto a deep cross.

As the game entered extra time, it was largely a nervy affair, Brig had the better of the chances in the first period and Linney scored the only chance of the second half.

Neil Crowe’s side now await the winners of tonight’s fixture between Darlington 1883 and Spennymoor Town.

If Darlington win, it means Brig will travel to the North East on Saturday, should Spennymoor win, Brig will play hosts.

It was a lively start at the Sir Tom Finney stadium, both teams played with a direct style of play and several chances were created early on.

For Brig, Ally Waddecar stung the palms of goalkeeper Deasy and the resulting rebound was lifted wide by Stuart Vasey.

The visitors were causing a number of problems from set pieces, and Brian Summerskill almost silenced the home support when he rattled the post with a right footed effort after Brig failed to clear Stuart Cook’s corner.

Vics continued to pose a threat in the air and Lee Dovey had to be at his very best when acrobatically tipping Michael Clarke’s five-yard header over the bar.

Midway through the half, Deasy saved well diving to his right to deny Macken from 25-yards and then on the half hour, a tactical switch saw Waddecar move to the left side and almost immediately it brought success as his cross was blazed over by Chris Marlow from six-yards.

The hosts continued to look the stronger as the half wore on, Marlow and Waddecar were causing problems on their respected wings and Northwich’s aerial advantage had been nullified.

On the stroke of half time and with Brig pressing, slack defending from the visitors saw them fall behind.

Darren Green was given acres of space on the left , his pinpoint cross found Macken and after peeling off his marker, the former Preston North End striker expertly headed across Deasy and into the bottom left corner.

The hosts looked the livelier of the two sides in the opening stages of the second half, but for all their possession, they failed to create any meaningful chances.

Vics started to come back into the game, their aerial game was coming together and the Brig back line came under increased pressure.

Dovey was called upon to claim and punch several crosses and three minutes after the hour, the Brig shotstopper pulled off another excellent save tipping Aboubacar Sanogo’s header over the bar.

The visitors were causing a constant threat and their pressure eventually told 15 minutes from time.

Fullback Chris Smalley sent in a fine cross from the right wing, meeting the ball at the back post was and onrushing Bennett and he finished well volleying in past a helpless Dovey.

Brig were clearly rocked by the goal, their passing game went out the window and Vics looked a threat each time they attacked.

The hosts finally settled, both sides went on to have corners cleared in the final stages of the second half and with nothing to separate them, the game went into extra time.

The first-half was a nervy encounter, neither side pushed men forward and the ball was constantly in the air.

Deasy then denied Waddecar with a fine save diving to his right and on the stroke of half-time in extra-time, Marlow whistled a shot inches wide of the right post with the Vics shotstopper well beaten.

The second-half saw little created until two substitutions made all the difference for the hosts.

Curtis Thompson and Linney were introduced and after only being on the pitch for five minutes, the latter turned the game on its head.

Waddecar held off his man tremendously, after gaining a fraction of space he released Linney on the goal, the 17-year-old got his head down and darted into the area before drilling a shot under the onrushing Deasy.

In the final minutes of the half, Brig held on to their lead thumping the ball clear at any given opportunity.

Bamber Bridge: Dovey, Mahoney, Steel, Lawlor (c), Muscat, Vasey, Waddecar, McKenna, Macken (Pickup 79), Green (Thompson 109), Marlow (Linney 109)

Subs not used: Alexander, Samberg (c)

Attendance: 550

Referee: Richard Wild (Lancashire)