Brig expecting bumper crowd for visit of PNE

Stuart Vasey
Stuart Vasey
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New Preston North End manager Alex Neil might struggle to find a seat to watch his new team in action at Bamber Bridge tonight.

A bumper crowd is expected at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium to see the annual friendly fixture between Brig and their illustrious neighbours from down the road.

Neil – who took over the reins from Simon Grayson at Deepdale on Wednesday – is expected to have only a watching brief for the club’s first pre-season game with first-team coach Steve Thompson conducting proceedings from the dug-out.

However, such has been the clamour to see Neil’s first game as PNE boss, Brig have been inundated with ticket requests and boss Neil Reynolds is expecting a crowd of around 3,000.

“We are expecting a big crowd,” said Reynolds. “Maybe the biggest since we played the Czech Republic in a friendly game before Euro 96.

“Preston changing managers could not have happened at a better time for us.

“It’s probably added a thousand on to the gate – we are looking at maybe 2,500 to 3,000.

“I’ve heard that he will be in the stands watching – that’s if he can get a seat,” the Brig boss joked.

Reynolds is sure that Neil will be mightily impressed with what he finds when he arrives at Irongate this evening.

“I think he will be very impressed with the surface that his new team will get to play on tonight,” added Reynolds.

“The pitch is looking absolutely superb and our groundsman Danny Mahoney has done an unbelievable job over the summer.

“It’s as good as a Football League pitch and Alex Neil will be able to watch his team play fluent football on a fantastic playing surface.” Reynolds is also expecting PNE’s players to have an extra spring in their step tonight as they look to make a good impression on the new manager.

“Preston’s new manager will want to see his players in a competitive game and we will be competitive,” said Reynolds. “Hopefully we will be able to give a good account of ourselves and reduce the scoreline.

“They should win because they are professional, but our lads are really looking forward to coming up against them and playing in front of a big crowd.”

Brig will have a slightly depleted squad as key man Alistair Waddecar will be absent as he is due to get married while new signing Matt Dudley and left-back Jake Higham will also be missing.

Stuart Vasey and Chris Marlow face fitness tests after picking up knocks in training, but Lloyd Rigby will be between the sticks after flying back two days early from holiday.

Meanwhile, Brig are still hopeful of enticing Congleton captain Scott Sefton to the club. Reynolds has held discussions with the midfielder, who is considering offers from a number of other clubs.