Darlington 1883 2 Bamber Bridge 0
BAMBER Bridge suffered play-off final heartache for the second time in as many years after they were defeated by Darlington 1883.
The sides were level at the half-time break but two goals in four second-half minutes put the game to bed.
Brig will be left to rue set-pieces as, first, Nathan Cartman tapped in a long throw from six yards and, four minutes later, Graeme Armstrong headed in on the line after Brig failed to clear another throw-in.
In stoppage time, goalkeeper Lee Dovey was sent off after clattering Armstrong on the edge of the box. Defeat for Brig ensures they will be spending another season in the NPL First Division North.
It was the visitors who made the livelier start at Heritage Park as centre-half Matt Lawlor whistled a shot inches wide of the post from 35-yards while Leon Scott blocked a scuffed Paul McKenna effort.
The hosts, backed by a vocal crowd, sent a number of crosses into the box which Dovey had to punch.
Brig continued to look the better of the two teams and a mix-up at the back almost saw them take the lead.
Glenn Steel punted the ball forward, onrushing goalkeeper Mark Bell and centre-half Graeme Brown hesitated, and Ally Waddecar pounced but his shot was tremendously saved.
At the other end, Dovey produced his first save of the match acrobatically tipping Cartman’s bicycle kick over the bar and, from the resulting corner, Terry Galbraith headed wide from six yards.
Seven minutes before the break, McKenna struck a left-footed volley at goal. With a fortunate bounce, the ball looked to going in but Bell managed to recover and head the ball wide.
The hosts were much the better of the two sides in the second half and within seven minutes, they had the advantage.
Brown’s long throw evaded everybody in the area and sweeping the ball home from six-yards with the faintest of touches was Cartman.
Within four minutes, Darlo doubled their lead. Brown sent in another long throw, the ball was initially cleared, Cartman headed the ball towards goal and Armstrong nodded in.
Cartman almost scored a second shortly after the hour but his curling effort rebounded off the crossbar.
Darlo started to run down the clock and Brig were left chasing the game.
Sub Liam Hatch headed wide of goal with his first touch of the game and with one minute remaining, the visitors were reduced to 10-men.
A ball was punted forward, an onrushing Dovey clattered Armstrong on the edge of the box, referee Paul Newhouse deemed the Brig goalkeeper the last man and he was duly given his marching orders.
Bamber Bridge: Dovey, Mahoney, Steel, Muscat, Lawlor (Pickup 83), Thompson (Linney 62), Marlow, McKenna, Vasey, Green (Green 76) , Waddecar. Subs (not used): Alexander, Samberg (GK)
Referee: P Newhouse