Crowe eyeing up a place in top three

Ally Waddecar

Ally Waddecar

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Bamber Bridge are assured of their place in the NPL First Division North play-offs but still have much riding on tomorrow’s final game at Ramsbottom United.

Brig head for the Riverside Stadium in fourth place, but could finish third, fourth or fifth depending on results.

If they beat the Rams and Warrington Town lose or draw at Harrogate Railway, then Neil Crowe’s men would finish third and play Warrington at home in the play-off semi-final.

Should Brig lose tomorrow, Ramsbottom would finish above them on goal difference, leaving the men from Irongate with a tough trip to Darlington 1883.

A draw at Ramsbottom will keep the current status quo, with Brig travelling to Warrington in the semis.

Ideally, Brig boss Crowe wants a home tie in the semi-finals, but is more than happy to be in the play-offs which he says is a reward for their steady improvement during his three seasons in charge.

Crowe said: “We are in the play-offs no matter what and that is a great achievement.

“We would love to finish in third place to get the semi-final at home, and to do that we need to beat Ramsbottom and hope that Warrington don’t win their game.

“It is a tough finish to the season and if you had asked me three months ago, I would have expected everything to have been sorted by now in terms of who is in the play-offs and who is playing who.

“But here we are playing the final game of the regular season, still not knowing if we will be third, fourth or fifth.

“Whatever happens, we can be very pleased with what we have done this season.

“This is my third full season in charge. We got 60 points in my first season, 70 last season, and at the moment we have 82 points. So there has been a progression every season.

“We have one of the smallest budgets in the division but money can’t buy the team spirit which we have here.”

Brig were 5-1 winners over Mossley on Easter Monday, Ally Waddecar netting a hat-trick with Matt Lawlor and Greg Johnstone also on target.

Waddecar’s treble took him on to 22 league goals for the campaign, and he’s the sixth highest scorer in the division.

Said Crowe: “The win against Mossley was a nice way to finish off at home in front of the fans.

“This season our gates have been up and in the last few away games, the numbers travelling to watch us have been good.

“Ally Waddecar’s three goals on Monday were outstanding.

“He’s been consistent for us for four years and has played 203 games for us in that time. That is good going.” Brig’s one injury doubt for tomorrow is Matty Kay who has a slight hamstring strain.

“I would say that Matty is 50/50,” said Crowe.

“He was 50/50 for Monday but he wanted to play and I put him in. When we were 4-0 up I took him off for the last 20 minutes, so hopefully he will be okay.”

Should Brig finish third or fourth,they will play Warrington on Tuesday night.

Were they to have to travel to Darlington, who use Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park ground, the game will be on Wednesday.

The final is a week tomorrow at the ground of the finalist who finished highest in the table.

l Lancaster City will be hoping neighbours Bamber Bridge can do them a favour this weekend.

The Dolly Blues are currently one place and two points outside the NPL First Division North play-offs as they head into the final weekend of the normal season.

But Darren Peacock’s men will secure a top-five position if they can defeat champions Curzon Ashton at Giant Axe, and Brig can topple Ramsbottom United at the Riverside.

Elsewhere in the division, Burscough and Kendal Town face away trips to Darlington 1883 and Radcliffe Borough respectively tomorrow.

In the Premier Division, AFC Fylde, who are already assured of a place in the play-offs, can still finish in either second, third or fourth depending on how results go this weekend.

Dave Challinor’s men are at home to Kings Lynn Town.

l In the Conference Premier, Southport travel to Welling.