We’ll see the best of Milli – Lawlor

Jamie Milligan

Jamie Milligan

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Bamber Bridge captain Matt Lawlor believes the club’s fans will start to see the best of playmaker Jamie Milligan.

The 36-year-old former Everton and Blackpool star arrived at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium in the summer to much fanfare.

Often described as one of the best players ever to grace non-league football, Milligan was influential in Fleetwood Town’s amazing rise from semi-professional outfit to Football League club over the past decade.

But it is fair to say the veteran midfielder over the first half of the campaign – like Brig as a team in general – has not hit the heights of past seasons. Indeed, there was speculation on social media late last year that he had left the club, although those particular rumours proved to be unfounded.

However, in recent weeks Milligan appears to be finding his best form and has been instrumental in Brig’s three successive wins at the start of the new year.

He struck the winner – a terrific 25-yard free-kick – in the 1-0 win over Lancaster City in the Doodson Cup at Giant Axe and then notched twice in the 3-0 win away at Scarborough Athletic at the weekend.

Milligan appears to be benefitting from manager Neil Crowe’s decision to change the formation of the side.

Since the new year, Brig have utilised a 4-5-1 formation with Milligan operating in an advanced central midfield position, rather than wide on the left.

“Milli’s 36 now and I don’t think he can get about the pitch like he used to and that’s not really his game anyway,” Lawlor said.

“His left foot is brilliant and we’ve now got him where he can express himself from central midfield.

“Before he was out on the left wing and we were relying on him to get a few crosses in. In the centre of a midfield three, there are other people who can do the dirty work for him so he can get on the ball.

“He had Glen Steel on Saturday in midfield with him and he did the dirty work.

“I think undoubtedly, we will start to see the best of Milli.”

Brig – whose scheduled Doodson Cup encounter at Witton Albion in midweek was postponed – will be aiming to pick up their third successive league win on Saturday when they welcome lowly Ossett Town to Irongate.

In fact, four of their next six games are against teams struggling near the foot of the table, while they also face Farsley Celtic, who are just one place above them.

Lawlor believes it is a great opportunity to maintain their good form and start to make up some ground on the teams in the play-off positions. Brig are currently nine points behind Burscough, who occupy fifth spot.

“We have got a few games in hand on some of the teams in and around the play-offs,” Lawlor said.

“We play a few teams who are down near the bottom over the next few weeks, but that puts an element of pressure on us to get results.

“But I think we need to put pressure on ourselves to go and get those maximum points in games we are expected to win. If we don’t then we will find ourselves out of the play-off picture.

“Ossett are not doing too well but they will be a gritty, determined team and our pitch is not in great condition so that will be a bit of a leveller.”

Brett Ormerod is still injured, while striker Stuart Vasey will be hoping to recover from a ankle knock sustained against Scarborough.