Pivotal period for Brig in fight for promotion

Brig boss Neil Reynolds
Brig boss Neil Reynolds

Bamber Bridge boss Neil Reynolds admits his team is entering a crucial and pivotal stage of the NPL First Division North season.

Over the course of the next month or so, Brig will discover whether they are the real deal or not in terms of winning promotion.

Currently fourth in the table – just three points off the top – Reynolds’ men have a great opportunity to secure one of the two automatic slots which are on offer this season.

However, they must contend with a daunting run of fixtures over the next 40 days which sees them take on all of the teams above them. They face second-placed Scarborough Athletic and Hyde United – in third – both home and away before welcoming leaders South Shields to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium on Tuesday, March 20.

In the same period, Brig also have matches against Droylsden, Prescot Cables and Clitheroe – clubs who are fighting for a play-off position.

“We have got an unbelievable run of games coming up,” said Reynolds, who watched his team draw 0-0 with Skelmersdale United on Saturday after battling for more than 70 minutes with 10 men.

“It is a pivotal part of the season – by next month we will pretty much know where we are. From a fans’ point of view, it is going to be amazing, but from my point of view I am going to know how far we are away.

“We have South Shields to play, Scarborough and Hyde to play twice. We have got to come out of those games, with a certain amount of points if we want automatic promotion.

“If they are better than us and beat us, then no problem – we will know where we are and we will go for the play-offs. But I’m pretty confident about my team, they have the belief and the desire and want to finish as high as they can. They can’t wait for the games against Scarborough, Hyde and South Shields.”

Before Brig can even think about those titanic tussles at the top, they have to make sure they remain better than the rest – starting with this weekend’s home clash against derby rivals Clitheroe.

The Blues are making a concerted push for the play-offs having won eight of their past 13 league games, although they head to Irongate this weekend on the back of two defeats.

Simon Haworth’s men will also have the memory of Brig’s emphatic 3-0 victory over them at Shawbridge in September at the back of their minds.

“It was very convincing when we beat them at their place,” said Reynolds, who is a former player and manager of Clitheroe. “But Simon has made a lot of changes to his squad. They will want to avenge that win we had over them.”

On the playing front, Adam Dodd is suspended after seeing red against Skem. Macauley Wilson is unavailable, while Brad Carsley faces a scan on his knee.