Bamber Bridge boys need to enjoy play-off challenge says boss Jamie Milligan

​Bamber Bridge boss Jamie Milligan has challenged his players to relish the occasion when they take on Gainsborough Trinity in the NPL Premier Division play-off semi-final on Tuesday night.
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Brig are attempting to earn promotion to the National League North for the first time since the division was established in 2004.

Their semi-final fixture, which kicks off at 7:45pm at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, is against a Gainsborough side that were relegated from that division five years ago.

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Milligan wants his players to enjoy the match in front of what is expected to be a substantial crowd.

Bamber Bridge boss Jamie Milligan (photo: Ruth Hornby)Bamber Bridge boss Jamie Milligan (photo: Ruth Hornby)
Bamber Bridge boss Jamie Milligan (photo: Ruth Hornby)

He said: “The fans have been brilliant all season and the attendances have gone up. It’s going to be a big game and I just hope that can push the lads on and give them that extra percentage in their performance.

“It’s going to be a massive night for the football club and the lads should enjoy it, whatever happens. The lads have got to go and enjoy it, and relish the challenge.”

Some members of the Brig squad have experience of the play-offs, with midfielder Danny Forbes part of the side that won promotion to the current division in 2018.

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Nathan Pond, meanwhile, is back in contention for Tuesday after the centre-back was sent off against South Shields earlier this month.

The 38-year-old won promotion from League Two with Fleetwood in 2014, and both he and Milligan – who also played in Brig's 2018 victory – were in the squad when the Cod Army contested the National League play-offs two years earlier.

The Brig boss believes Pond's experience could be a huge factor on Tuesday.

“He’s been there and done it,” said Milligan. “He’s been absolutely brilliant for me since he signed. I knew he would be – that’s why I went out of my way to sign him.

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“He’s great around the changing room, the lads love him, and he’s professional, hence why he’s played so many games.

“His experience will be massive on Tuesday because we’ve got to stay calm. It’s just another game of football we’ve got to try and win.”

Brig finished the league season in third place – their highest finishing position in the English football pyramid since the 1995/96 campaign.

On that occasion, they finished on top of the Northern Premier League, which was the sixth tier of English football prior to the North/South divisions being established.

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And Milligan was full of praise for his squad after achieving a play-off position, having missed out by a point last season.

He added: “It’s a massive achievement for a club like us, and how young our squad is, to finish third in the league.

“It’s been a competitive league, it’s been really tight for pretty much the whole season for the top 10 or 11 teams – anybody could have got in those play-offs at the time.

“It’s a massive achievement for the football club to finish this high. It’s been brilliant, the progress. Last season we missed out by a point, I think we probably should have got in last season but we have been pretty much there and thereabouts all season.

“It’s just a great achievement and I can only ask for one more big effort from the players.”