Brig squad is big enough says Neil

Brig player/assistant-boss Neil Reynolds
Brig player/assistant-boss Neil Reynolds
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Bamber Bridge are ready to take the next step and win promotion from the NPL First Division North this season.

That is the view of player/assistant-manager Neil Reynolds, who believes the squad he and manager Neil Crowe have at their disposal is the best it has been since they took control of the club.

Now in their fourth season at the helm, the duo have presided over a gradual improvement year by year.

At the end of the last campaign they almost succeeded in their quest for promotion to the Premier Division but were agonisingly denied by Ramsbottom United in the play-off final.

By the looks of it, Brig have suffered no lingering hangover from the heartbreak of last season and the signs appear good for another play-off tilt.

They are scoring goals by the bucket load – 28 in their last eight matches – and they are currently on a four-match winning run in the league.

The team is handily placed in sixth spot in the table as they welcome lowly New Mills to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium tomorrow.

“Everything is going well at the moment,” Reynolds said.

“We have just clicked over the last few games.

“We have got a really competitive squad and good competition for places.

“It just shows how much quality we have got when a player as good as Greg Johnstone decided to leave last week because he wasn’t getting in our starting XI.

“We have got strength in depth this year, which we didn’t have last season.

“If you look at our play-off final defeat to Ramsbottom, their manager was able to make three quality substitutions which helped them win the game after extra time.

“When you looked at our bench during that game, we did not have the same quality. I think now we have got some real quality.”

Despite the strength in depth of the squad, Reynolds admits his men still face a huge task in their quest for promotion as they compete against clubs with more finance and bigger budgets.

“We want to go one better than last year but it’s a really competitive division,” Reynolds said.

“There are big teams with big budgets who we are up against.

“I believe Spennymoor bought a player for £18,000 in the summer.

“We all know about Darlington and Salford and the backing they have got.

“But we are competing against these teams and we are where we are in the table on merit.

“It’s no fluke. It is all about the team ethos, team spirit and professionalism of our players and the quality of football they can play.”

Brig – whose match away to Scarborough Athletic last Saturday was abandoned due to an injury to home skipper Chris Bolder with the visitors winning 1-0 – will be the favourites against New Mills tomorrow.

The Derbyshire-based side are second from bottom in the table having won just one game all season.

However, Brig will be without midfielders Matt Mahoney, who is still out injured, and Paul McKenna (suspended).

Reynolds himself starts a two-match ban tomorrow but Stuart Vasey and Nathan Parish should be fit to take their places in the squad.

“New Mills are down the bottom but it won’t be easy,” Reynolds said. “It’s the first of four really big games for us.”