Bamber Bridge boss Neil Crowe is expecting a fierce battle in their derby day ‘crunch clash’ against Lancaster City at Irongate tomorrow.
Brig slipped out of the play-off places after a 1-0 defeat to Ossett Town last weekend whilst local rivals the Dolly Blues are fifth in the NPL Division One table after hitting a rich vein of form with three straight victories.
But Crowe believes his men are up for the fight and tomorrows ‘must-win’ match.
He said: “There are 12 games to go but this is probably the biggest game of the season.
“There is not much between the teams – as the league shows – and the winner of the match will be the team who want it most on the day.
“The lads are ready – we had a chat about Saturday and the coming weeks and I can’t ask any more from them. I just hope the players get their reward at the end of the season.”
Brig are seventh and could leapfrog Darren Peacock’s Lancaster City side with a win.
But Crowe believes this is the first of 12 huge matches for Bamber Bridge as they enter the business end of the season with Matty Kay and Alastair Waddecar in fine form.
He said: “It is a crunch match but from now on we will treat every game as though it is a cup final.
“If we beat them we might go above them but there are still lots of twists and turns left – for now we are concentrating on what we do.
“It will be a very hard game they are coming in off the back of three wins.
“They have a strong back four and a good front two – it won’t be easy but we are confident, when we perform we can win a game against anyone.”
Later in March, Brig will travel to Giant Axe to face Lancaster again, and will play New Mills twice in a fortnight. But Crowe is not fazed by the familiarity he is buoyed by the fact Brig will not encounter any of the top-four sides in their promotion push.
He said: “We’d rather not be playing teams back to back. We have New Mills and then Lancaster again in two weeks time.
“But it doesn’t matter who we play, it is about what happens on the pitch.
”We don’t have an easy run-in but we don’t have to play any of the top sides like Darlington, Curzon Ashton, Farsley or Warrington whereas some of our play-off rivals do.
“And even third-placed Farsley have a lot of tough games left so they may slip down the table – there are points up for grabs.”
After two great victories against Kendal Town and Burscough, Brig lost away to Ossett Town.
But Crowe was not disheartened by Brig’s 1-0 away defeat, insisting his side can bounce back against City.
He said: “It was an individual mistake that cost us last Saturday but it is a tough place to go to I would have settled for a point.
“There won’t be much in it against Lancaster but I fancy our chances, the lads are raring to go.”
And Brig’s boss believes they are the masters of their own destiny as the race for the play-offs hot up.
He said: “We are in a better position than this time last season – last year we were chasing the pack – but now the future is in our own hands.”
Elswhere in the NPL First Division North, Clitheroe host Burscough, and Kendal Town entertain Salford City. In the Conference Premier, Southport travel to Woking after a 3-0 win over Dartford.