Brig lost heads but have now found feet

PAIN GAME: Stuart Vasey lies injured after a red-card challenge in the game against New Mills in midweek (photo by Paul Vause)

PAIN GAME: Stuart Vasey lies injured after a red-card challenge in the game against New Mills in midweek (photo by Paul Vause)

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Bamber Bridge assistant manager Neil Reynolds hailed his players’ strength of character after a tumultuous week in the club’s recent history.

The NPL First Division North outfit announced last week that it is struggling financially due to the recent bad weather which has forced many of its home games to be postponed over the winter.

With a lack of spectators clicking through the turnstiles at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, Brig are currently experiencing a cash-flow problem.

The players were informed last week that the club were not in a position to pay them for the foreseeable future.

And the news of that and the club’s present predicament seemed to affect the players during Saturday’s heavy 4-1 home defeat to Witton Albion.

After a long heart-to-heart in the dressing room after the game, Reynolds and manager Neil Crowe got a reaction in midweek.

Playing against bottom side New Mills, who have picked up just one point all season, Brig faced a potential banana skin.

However, the players responded strongly and never looked in danger of becoming the first team to lose to New Mills this season.

Stuart Vasey calmed the nerves by opening the scoring after 12 minutes and Alistair Waddecar doubled the advantage five minutes before the interval.

Eighteen-year-old striker Regan Linney – who has spent time training with Championship outfit Burnley this month – completed the win with the third goal in the second half.

“I think with what happened during the week with the club off the pitch, we took that into Saturday’s match,” Reynolds.

“I think it was inevitable that would happen.

“The players did not perform although we came up against good opposition in Witton.

“When we went 2-1 down and 3-1 down, you could see the lads’ heads go down.

“That never happens, but you could understand it after what had gone on.

“That was fine. In the dressing room we had a long discussion.

“We said to players, ‘Look there’s no money, if you want to go that’s okay – let’s shake hands. But if you want to stay, then let’s start putting in performances between now and the end of the season’.

“One by one the players came up to us told us that they are here for the long haul.

“Nobody is leaving and I think it will bring us closer together.

“We played New Mills, who haven’t won all season, and it was obviously a bit of a banana skin, but the lads did great and got a good win.

“I think the loss to Witton was what was needed. I think it needed us to get absolutely thumped to bring everything to a head.

“Money is not the driver for the players. Okay, it’s nice to get expenses and take a bit of money home, but the players are here because they love playing football.”

This weekend, Brig travel to second-bottom Harrogate Railway and Reynolds said: “We looked at the league table on Tuesday and the play-offs are still a possibility. We have got games in hand and I wouldn’t write us off yet.”

In terms of team news, midfielder Matty Kay will return after sitting out the midweek win with a slight groin strain.

Elsewhere, Burscough host Ossett Town and Clitheroe travel to Glossop.

Kendal Town welcome Prescot to Parkside Road.