Teenager is Brig hero

Extra-time matchwinner Regan Linney (right)
Extra-time matchwinner Regan Linney (right)
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Seventeen-year-old Regan Linney came off the bench in extra-time to seal an NPL Division One North play-off final place for Bamber Bridge at the expense of Northwich Victoria.

Linney had only been on the pitch for five minutes when latching on to Ally Waddecar’s pass and expertly finishing past Tim Deasy from inside the penalty box.

The hosts had taken the lead two minutes before the interval, when former Preston North End striker Jon Macken used all his experience to head Brig in front.

But the second half was a much more even contest and Vics equalised in the 75th minute, with Richard Bennett finishing well.

Extra time was a nervy affair but Brig were good value for Linney’s winner.

Neil Crowe’s side now await the winners of Wednesday night’s fixture between Darlington 1883 and Spennymoor Town.

If Darlington win, it means Brig will travel to the North East on Saturday but should Spennymoor win, Brig will have home advantage.

Several chances were created early on last night.

For Brig, Waddecar stung the palms of goalkeeper Deasy and the resulting rebound was lifted wide by Stuart Vasey.

But Brian Summerskill almost silenced the home support when he rattled the post with a right-footed effort after Brig failed to clear Stuart Cook’s corner.

And Brig keeper Lee Dovey had to be at his very best when acrobatically tipping Michael Clarke’s five-yard header over.

Midway through the half, Deasy saved well to deny Macken from 25 yards, while Waddecar’s cross from the left was blazed over by Chris Marlow from six yards.

On the stroke of half-time, Brig took the lead when Darren Green’s pinpoint cross found Macken, who expertly headed across Deasy and into the bottom left corner.

In the second half, Vics started to come back into the game.

Dovey was called upon to claim and punch several crosses and three minutes after the hour, the Brig shot-stopper pulled off another excellent save, tipping Aboubacar Sanogo’s header over the bar.

But the visitors’ pressure eventually told 15 minutes from time when full-back Chris Smalley sent in a fine cross from the right and Bennett finished well on the volley.

The first half of extra time was a nervy encounter, although Deasy denied Waddecar with a fine save and Marlow whistled a shot inches wide of the right-hand post with the Vics keeper well beaten.

Two substitutions finally made the difference for Brig.

Curtis Thompson and Linney were introduced and five minutes later, Waddecar held off his man before releasing Linney, who got his head down and darted into the area before drilling a shot under Deasy.

Bamber Bridge: Dovey, Mahoney, Steel, Lawlor, Muscat, Vasey, Waddecar, McKenna, Macken (Pickup 79), Green (Thompson 109), Marlow (Linney 109). Subs not used: Alexander, Samberg

Attendance: 550

Referee: Richard Wild (Lancashire)