Brig set for ‘match of the decade’

Neil Crowe
Neil Crowe
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It is the battle of the underdogs tomorrow as Bamber Bridge and Ramsbottom United go head to head in the NPL First Division North play-off final.

The two teams meet at Irongate – the prize for the victors is promotion to the Premier Division.

It is set up to be a mouth-watering encounter, especially after both teams upset the applecart in midweek by beating more fancied sides with bigger budgets in the semi-finals.

Brig recorded a fantastic 1-0 victory at Warrington Town, while Rammy were perhaps even more impressive in disposing of Darlington 1883 2-0 at Heritage Park.

“It’s our biggest game probably since the 1990s,” said Brig boss Neil Crowe, pictured right.

“We got in the play-offs about seven years ago but we didn’t get to the final.

“We got beaten by FC United in the semi-finals.

“I have been at the club 10 years and it’s the biggest game I have been involved in.

“It’s great that you have got both ourselves and Rammy in the final – it shows that money does not always buy you success.

“Team spirit and determination is what has got both teams where they are.”

Since winning promotion to the division two years ago from the North West Counties League, Ramsbottom have enjoyed two excellent seasons at this level – something which has not gone unnoticed by Crowe.

“Last season was their first season in the NPL and they just missed out on the play-offs on goal difference,” he said.

“So they’ve had two great season.

“We have been quite similar this year because we both had bad starts.

“I think Rammy won one out of their first seven games, and September was an absolute write-off for us.

“But it’s about a 42-game season and we are both there on merit. I think we will both be set up to win the game tomorrow.

“We both like to play good football and I know Rammy, they have got some great lads and are a very good side.”

Crowe admits Tuesday night’s win at Warrington was an emotionally charged occasion for his men.

Having gone in at the interval all-square, Ally Waddecar hit the winner shortly after half-time, although Brig had chances to win more convincingly.

“It was a massive win for us,” Crowe said. “We felt no pressure on the night – we were the underdogs.

“But we thoroughly deserved to win – the lads were absolutely outstanding.”

Crowe has urged his men to play with the same freedom tomorrow and not to think about the prize which is on offer to the winners.

“There’s no pressure on us tomorrow,” he insisted. “If we win, we win – if we lose, we lose.

“To get to where we are is a massive achievement.

“I just want them to go out and enjoy the occasion tomorrow.”

Brig have no major injury worries ahead of the game but they will be missing Matt Mahoney, who is suspended.