Crowe demands improved display

Bamber Bridge striker Sam Joel

Bamber Bridge striker Sam Joel

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Neil Crowe feels his Bamber Bridge side must defend better if they are to progress in their FA Cup second qualifying round tie against Skelmersdale United.

Brig struggled to a 1-1 draw last time out against Radcliffe Borough in the NPL First Division North.

The point has left 
pre-season title favourites Brig 11th in the table.

Saturday’s opponents Skem are in a poor run of form, having won just one of their previous five fixtures in all competitions.

Tommy Lawson’s side travel to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium with a wealth of experience, including former Chorley and Southport forward Chris Almond, plus ex-Rochdale frontman George Donnelly.

Despite Skem’s poor form, Brig boss Crowe insists his back-line must improve ahead of Saturday’s game, which is worth £4,500 to the winners.

“If we defend like we did against Radcliffe Borough then we’ll be going out of the FA Cup, it’s as clear as that,” he said.

“Skem will put us to the sword if we defend as a team like we did against Radcliffe.

“We started really well and we didn’t look like conceding.

“In the second half we were a completely different side and I could tell 15 minutes before the goal that we were going to concede.

“I just couldn’t understand why we struggled, again in the game we had several clear-cut chances and we missed them – we just can’t be doing that.

“The lads have been told and they know they have to up their game by at least 50 per cent.

“We have shown previously that we can put performances in and compete with the best.”

One of the few bright sparks from Tuesday night’s tie at Radcliffe was on-loan Blackburn Rovers striker Sam Joel. The 18-year-old scored his second goal in as many games.

Joel has drawn plenty of plaudits from coaches at Rovers, with many tipping him to have a bright future in the game.

Parent club Blackburn have allowed Joel to play in the FA Cup and Crowe hopes his young striker can keep finding the back of the net.

“I thought Sam started Tuesday night really well,” Crowe added.

“He had some really good touches and he looked a threat.

“I thought he showed quality with his goal.

“He followed up a shot and finished well from a tight angle – hopefully he can continue his form.”

Brig were without talisman Ally Waddecar for the midweek fixture at 
Radcliffe.

The winger badly injured his knee against New Mills on Saturday whilst challenging for the ball.

Waddecar is currently being monitored by the physio but Crowe admits he is unsure whether or not he will be fit.

“I honestly don’t know about Ally,” Crowe said.

“He’s doubtful but I’m not sure, I think we’ll have to play it by ear and see on the day.”

After missing Tuesday’s fixture due to work commitments, defender Glenn Steel is expected to return to the Brig squad.

Elsewhere in the FA Cup, Kendal Town host National League North outfit Stalybridge Celtic whilst Burscough travel to Spennymoor Town.

In the NPL First Division North, Clitheroe are away to Warrington Town.

In the National League, Southport are at home to Grimsby Town.