THE busy Christmas and New Year fixture list could be a make or break period in Bamber Bridge’s season.
Neil Crowe’s men have yet to catch fire this campaign and find themselves well of the pace at the top in the NPL First Division North.
After 17 games, Brig are currently positioned in 12th spot – a sizeable 12 points behind Burscough, who occupy the final play-off position.
While all is certainly not lost yet, Crowe knows his team must start stringing a run of wins together if they are to make an impression in the upper echelons of the division.
Brig have shown in past seasons that they can be a streaky team, who can go on a run of wins and their manager would dearly like that to happen over the festive period as the games come thick and fast.
Tomorrow, they welcome Radcliffe Borough to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium before travelling to Shawbridge on Boxing Day to take on Clitheroe.
Two days later, Burscough visit Irongate and then the day after New Year’s Day, Crowe’s men face a tricky test away at Ossett Albion.
“We have got two tough games – well three if you count the Osset Albion game – over Christmas,” Crowe said.
“Clitheroe on Boxing day is a really tough one – they are flying this season and then Burscough two days later.
“We’ve played them twice already this season – they have done really well this year.
“Then the following Saturday we’ve got Ossett Albion, who are flying at he minute as well.
“We’ve got Radcliffe tomorrow and they’re not a bad side. We played them earlier on in the season and I did not expect them to be as far down as they are in the table.
“But league positions don’t really meran anything in this league.
“Teams at the bottom are more than capable of beating teams near the top.
“So Christmas and New Year is going to be a really tough period for us this year.
“Bu there’s no reason why we can’t go on a run like we have done in the past.
“There’s still a long way to go – we’ve still got 25 games to play, so a lot can happen.”
Brig suffered a blow in midweek when they were dumped out of the LFA Challenge Trophy at the quarter-final stage by North West Counties Premier Division high flyers Colne 1-0.
It was a great opportunity for Brig to reach the last four and possibly the final at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium.
“It is wide open,” Crowe said. “I know Chorley are still in it, but the other three teams in the semis are Lancaster, Padiham and Colne, so it was a big chance for us to get through possibly to the final.
“If I’m being honest, we did not do enough to win the game, but we probably didn’t deserve to lose it.
“They are a good side and going well in their division.
“They are physical and strong – the conditions were tricky, but that’s the same for both teams.”
Midweek game against Colne was supposed to be the night when Ally Waddecar made his long-awaited return to the squad after three months out with injury, but the winger had to pull out before kick-off through illness.
It is expected Waddecar will be fit enough for this weekend, while defender Glen Steel should also return after missing the game on Tuesday. Fellow defender Paul Alexander is still out.