Brig boss still hurt over Bloods defeat

Paul McKenna

Paul McKenna

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Bamber Bridge boss Neil Crowe is keen to get his revenge against the Bloods tomorrow.

Droylsden beat Brig 7-1 at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium on the opening day of the NPL First Division North season back in August giving an extra edge to their meeting.

Crowe admitted he is still wounded by the defeat and is keen to avenge the result at the Butcher’s Arms Ground tomorrow.

He said: “We are looking for revenge. That 7-1 result still hurts to be honest – it was embarrassing.

“I didn’t know what to think at the time.

“I still don’t know how we got beaten like that. But the only way we are going to put it to bed is by beating them.”

Since that defeat, Brig have gone from strength to strength.

And after four successive victories, Crowe’s fourth-placed men are mounting a late title challenge and are only seven points off the top spot.

The Brig boss says his side has been transformed since that opening-day defeat to ninth-placed Droylsden.

He said: “Personnel is the big difference. There have been quite a few changes since that match.

“Droylsden too are a much-changed side since that first game. We are going there full of confidence.”

One of the big changes since that clash is the addition of former Preston North End player Paul McKenna.

Crowe lured the midfield maestro out of a self-imposed one-year hiatus in September and the 37-year-old has pulled the strings in the middle of the park ever since.

McKenna’s old PNE team-mate and ex-Premier League star Jon Macken also joined the Brig revolution earlier this year but has missed the last few games with a calf strain.

Crowe hailed McKenna’s impact since joining Brig. He said: “Paul McKenna has been a massive influence on the whole squad since he has come in.

“His experience has been invaluable and he has passed on a lot of advice to the players. He is the sort of player we want at the club.

“He is a leader, a winner and a very good footballer.”

Brig won last weekend’s ‘six pointer’ against play-off rivals Scarborough 2-1 and Crowe’s men have now created a five-point cushion between themselves and sixth-placed Mossley.

But Crowe’s eyes are firmly fixed on automatic promotion and, with just six games left, he believes his men have a chance as league leaders Salford City and second-placed Darlington 1883 have to play several of the chasing pack before the season is out.

He said: “The Scarborough game is what I’d call a professional performance.

“We went there and we were very comfortable.

“They scored in the 94th minute. But we limited them to two or three chances – in fairness it wouldn’t have looked bad if we had won by more.

“We have just got to concentrate on us.

“Salford scored in the 90th minute to win 1-0 in midweek.

“But all of the teams around us have to play each other and will all drop points off each other. I’m confident we can challenge for the top spot.”

Midfielder Chris Marlow is unavailable for the next three games and defender Matt Lawlor will miss tomorrow’s clash due to work commitments in Japan.

But Crowe is hopeful of re-signing Michael Muscat on-loan from Fleetwood Town.

Elsewhere, in the NPL First Division North, Lancaster City travel to play-off hopefuls Farsley AFC tomorrow hoping to make it two wins on the spin after their 3-1 victory over Brighouse Town last weekend.

Clitheroe host Ossett Town at Shawbridge, and Burscough entertain New Mills at Victoria Park.

Kendal Town welcome third-placed Northwich Victoria to Parkside Road.