MATCH REPORT: Bamber Bridge 0 Clitheroe 1
Bamber Bridge suffered late Easter heartbreak as a last gasp Louis Mayers strike gave local rivals Clitheroe all three points at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.
The game seemed destined to be a goalless draw but former Brig player Mayers returned to haunt his old club and coolly slid the ball past Lee Dovey as the defence appeared to stand still in the fourth minute of injury time.
It was a deserved goal for Brig’s NPL First Division North play-off rivals Clitheroe who had forced Brig to camp in their own half for the majority of the second half.
But as the clock ticked towards full-time it looked as though Neil Crowe’s men would pick up a vital point until Mayers popped up to break the deadlock.
Brig dominated first half in the swirling winds and passed the ball across the bobbly surface with ease but just lacked a killer instinct in front of goal.
Clitheroe set themselves up to rely on the counter with pacy strike duo Darrhyl Mason and Louis Mayers buzzing and chirping in the ears of Brig’s defence.
But captain Matt Lawlor and fellow centre back Paul Alexander ensured the forwards did not get a sniff in a scrappy and fiery first 45 minutes.
Brig nearly opened the scoring just three minutes in as Glenn Steel ghosted into the box unmarked but unfortunately he nodded off target.
Midfielder Stu Vasey’s initial shot was blocked and he fed the rebound through to Alistair Waddecar on the right of the box but the winger’s angled shot was saved by former Brig loanee Steven James in the 11th minute.
Livewire Waddecar won a free-kick from the right and Jamie Milligan nearly broke the deadlock as he fired the subsequent set-piece towards the top left corner but James dived across goal to make a one-handed save and tip the ball away.
Lawlor’s shot from distance fizzed to James and Waddecar steamed to the back line, cut the ball back towards Marlow but his cross was just pinched off Marlow’s toes by Clitheroe.
Christopher Lynch was booked for a foul on Vasey and Clitheroe had their first real meaningful attack of the game in the 32nd minute as the unmarked Mason headed wide of the right post.
Waddecar’s persistence nearly paid off as he charged the ball down and carved out a chance out of nothing.
The Brig winger stormed towards goal but as he ran one-on-one with James on the right of the box his angle became tighter and his shot cannoned back off James.
Paul Alexander and Mason had a heated exchange just before half-time with Alexander allegeing the striker had elbowed him and referee Alan Bennett booked both players for their reactions.
Clitheroe made a substitution at the break as Roberto Bonaminio replaced Lynch.
And the visitors nearly took the lead just seconds into the second half.
Mason sprinted one-on-one with Dovey but the Brig keeper blocked his effort.
Just as Brig controlled the first 45 the visitors took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half but could not find a breakthrough.
Matty Kay cleared Mason’s shot off the line and as the ball looped up on a plate for Gonzales he nodded over.
Simon Garner was booked for chopping down Brig’s Chris Marlow as Clitheroe continued to up the pressure.
Gonzales’ 67th minute strike was just tipped away by Dovey and Clitheroe nearly bundled in the subsequent corner.
Up the other end Waddecar’s shot nearly fell perfectly into the path of substitute Dean Ing but it just evaded the youngster in the 77th minute.
Lawlor’s curling shot flew straight into the welcoming arms of James as Brig, who spent the majority of the 45 in their own half, tried to break the deadlock.
Scott Harries sliced the ball wide of the right post and Gonzales was booked for a late challenge on Vasaey as the wind-ravaged fixture appeared to be heading towards a drawe.
Brig nearly released Waddecar to sprint one-on-one but a Clitheroe challenge put him off balance and the ball rolled through to James.
But as full-time neared Mayers found himself in space in the box after Brig failed to clear their lines and broke their hearts.
It was Crowe’s men’s second successive defeat after they lost for the second time in three days after their Easter Saturday 3-1 defeat at Trafford.
Crowe said after the game: “It is a sickener but we brought it on ourselves by not clearing our lines. We had four chances to clear the ball and after a bit of pinball it has broken to the lad and he has put it away.
“We blame ourselves because it should have been cleared 10 seconds before the lad has put it in.
“I thought we deserved at least a point from the game.”
Bamber Bridge: Dovey, Kay, Dodd, Lawlor, Alexander (Bowyer, 54), Vasey, Waddecar, Steel, Linney (Fishwick, 54), Milligan (Ing, 68), Marlow. Subs nolt used: Thompson, Wiles.
Clitheroe: James, Heywood, Barski, Benjamin, Lynch (Bonaminio, 46), Garner (Hampson, 68), Harries, Lynch, Gonzales, Mason, Mayers. Subs not used: Dent, Wiloughby, Woodhead.
Referee: Alan Bennett.