The NPL First Division North has suddenly shrunk for Bamber Bridge.
The table normally consists of 22 teams but from now until the end of the season, Brig’s players will only have eyes for a mini-league made up of themselves and three other sides.
Neil Crowe’s men are in a four-way fight to secure the last two remaining play-off berths with Lancaster City, Farsley and Ramsbottom United.
With Curzon Ashton seemingly running away with the league title and both Warrington Town and Darlington 1883 in pole position to claim both second and third respectively, the spotlight has fallen on the next four teams.
Just three points separate fourth-placed Farsley from Brig, who are in seventh spot.
And in a novel way to motivate his men in the run-in the end of the season, assistant manager Neil Reynolds pinned up a ‘new’ league table on the dressing room door before last Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Harrogate Railway Athletic.
Reynolds told the Evening Post: “I presented the lads with the fixtures of the three other teams around us and dressed up a mini league of four with an estimated points total I think each team will get from their remaining games.
“I am not going to say where I predict we will end up but what I will say is that I think it’s going to go right down to the last game of the season.
“There are going to be lots of twists and turns. Everybody is going to drop points.
“For instance, this weekend we are at home to New Mills, Lancaster are away to somebody lower down the table but Farsley and Rammy play each, so there’s going to be dropped points there.
“After last weekend’s results, we are top of the mini-league with Lancaster and Ramsbottom – Farsley have no points. If we can finish top of that mini-league then we will be in the play-offs.
“When I pinned it up on the door last Saturday, all the lads said, ‘You’re a busy so and so you Reno’.
“It must have took me three hours to work it all out – I found a bit of time on Friday night.
“But you never know in football what could happen.
“Teams can go and get beaten in games which, on paper, they’re expected to win.
“We will be going into every game with a points total in mind. Maybe we might put ourselves under pressure by doing that.
“But with nine games to go, and with something to play for, do we want to back off from that pressure or go with it?
“We’ve given ourselves a chance to get in the play-offs and I will be disappointed if we take our foot off the gas now.”
Brig welcome New Mills to Irongate feeling confident after beating the Derbyshire outfit on their home patch less than two weeks ago.
Manager Crowe will be without Matt Lawlor, who serves the second of a four-match suspension.
But Matt Doughty has returned and will help strengthen the back line.
“Phil’s been back in training,” Reynolds said. “He will be in the squad tomorrow.
“He’s a fantastic player. He went to Dubai but has come back, got himself fit and he will be a great addition to the squad.”
Reynolds also praised Greg Johnstone, who hit the winner against Harrogate last weekend.
The target man suffered an horrific leg break earlier this season but has battled his way back to fitness.
“Greg has worked hard to get back fit for the run-in and that’s all credit to him,” Reynolds said.