Bamber Bridge defender Matt Lawlor is expecting a fiery encounter this weekend when his team welcome Scarborough Athletic to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.
The closeness in proximity of the two teams in the NPL First Division North table – Boro are in fourth spot, while Brig are one spot further back – already means a lot is resting on the outcome of the match.
I think it will be quite a tasty encounter tomorrow
But there will be extra spice added to the proceedings tomorrow due to the fallout between the two clubs after the last time they met.
It was in late November last year when Brig’s match away to Boro was abandoned due to a serious injury sustained by home skipper Chris Bolder.
Neil Crowe’s men were leading 1-0 at the time courtesy of a goal from Alistair Waddecar.
While concerned for the player’s welfare, Crowe and his assistant Neil Reynolds questioned the decision to call the game off.
They believed Bolder could have been safely removed from the pitch, allowing the game to continue.
Their protestations angered Scarborough officials and the club’s fans with many making their feelings known in the Press and on message boards.
And Lawlor believes the controversy surrounding that event will mean the visitors will arrive tomorrow fired up and in determined mood.
“The first match at their place was stupidly abandoned after about 35 or 40 minutes,” Lawlor said.
“We were absolutely battering them at the time.
“We were one-nil up but it should have been two or three.
“But they called the game off because their lad had a bad injury.
“It was bad but I have never seen a game get called off because of a bad injury.
“I think they will come tomorrow fired up because of what happened and with everything that was said post-match.
“I think they put a few things on their website which were then posted on the league’s website. It said Bamber Bridge showed no class, or something along those lines.
“So I think it will be quite a tasty encounter tomorrow.”
Brig will move ahead of Boro if they can win tomorrow and the signs look good for a home victory.
They have won five and drawn one of their last seven games – their only defeat in that sequence came in the narrow 2-1 defeat to title favourites Darlington 1883 away on Saturday.
On Tuesday, they battled to a 1-0 win at Mossley thanks to Stuart Vasey’s goal in the 25th minute.
“It was a good all-round performance on Tuesday night,” Lawlor said.
“We defended really well and played some good football against a really big, physical team in Mossley.
“If they had beaten us, they would have gone above us. It was a bit of a six-pointer.
“The win takes us three points further away from them. If they had beaten us then it would have been another team right in the play-off mix.”
While pleased with his team’s recent run of results, Lawlor still feels there is plenty of room for improvement as they head towards the final part of the campaign.
“We have been doing well results-wise but we haven’t been putting in complete all-round team performances” he said.
“I suppose it’s a good thing that we have still been managing to pick up wins, but we have not been playing as well as we believe we can do.”
Meanwhile,the signing of former Premier League footballer Jon Macken has handed everybody in the Bamber Bridge dressing room a huge lift – that’s according to Lawlor.
The former Blackpool and AFC Fylde star admits he was amazed when he first heard the news that the ex-Preston and Manchester City striker had signed for the club.
“It’s an unbelievable signing,” Lawlor. “I could not believe it when I first heard about it. It’s a massive thing for as it was when Paul McKenna signed for us.
“One of the younger lads Keiran Pickup – he’s only 20-years-old and has only been around the non-league scene a couple of years – but he was buzzing about the signing.
“Even though he is a threat to his place in the team, he was saying he can learn a lot from Jon.
“He’s obviously new to the dressing room but already he’s said little things to us which we have all thought, ‘Yeah this guy knows his football’.
Macken, who scored 74 times in a five-year spell for PNE, has yet to notch for Brig, but Lawlor believes it will only be a matter of time before he opens his account.
“He’s been a focal point for us in the two games, back to goal – everything just sticks to him.
“Once he gets used to the standard and gets settled in, he will be a scoring machine.”