PNE ready for Brig challenge

Jack Ryan
Jack Ryan
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Bamber Bridge manager Neil Crowe is looking forward to this evening’s annual clash with Preston North End.

The friendly (7pm) is a long-standing one in the pre-season fixture calender.

And tonight’s game will see Irongate officially renamed as the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

Brig boss Crowe told the Evening Post: “I always look forward to that game.

“As a club we have been looking forward to it because it will be the official renaming of Irongate to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

“We got a good crowd last year and we are hoping to get something similar this time.

“It is a very prestigious game for us to hold because Preston are a great team.

“Playing against higher league opposition gives our lads an idea about how far they are away from achieving that standard.

“We played against Chorley the other day and we beat them, so that has given us confidence.

“I met Simon Grayson last year and he is a really nice guy to speak to. I can’t thank him enough for bringing his side to play against us.

“I think he has done very well, PNE were very unlucky to miss out on promotion in May, it was a very good season.

“Fingers crossed, hopefully they can go one step further this time.

“Preston are a club that deserve to be in the Championship, they deserve to get promoted.

“This will be a tough test for us but the lads are looking forward to playing against League One opposition.”

Brig have enjoyed a decent pre-season, beating Longridge and AFC Brigg, and drawing 1-1 with a Bolton Wanderers XI. On Saturday they beat Chorley 3-1 thanks to goals from Matt Mahoney, Alistair Waddecar and Glen Steele.

New signings Stuart Vasey, Nathan Parish and Glen Steele are expected to feature.

However, Alex Taylor will be missing after suffering a fractured metatarsal in the Bolton game.

North End were 6-0 winners at Brig last year in front of a crowd of more than 1,400.

Simon Grayson will field a strong side tonight in what will be a busy week for his squad.

After tackling Crowe’s men, PNE head to Halifax Town tomorrow night.

Then on Friday they head up the M6 to face Morecambe at the Globe Arena.

Tonight’s game should see a first run out of the summer for striker Jack Ryan.

He sat out the friendlies with Chorley and Liverpool having taken a knock in training.

But Barrow-born Ryan, who signed a pro contract in June after coming through the Deepdale youth ranks, resumed training at the end of last week.

Another new pro, Nick Anderton, will also feature after being an unused sub in the Liverpool game.

Preston are also likely to give a run to young goalkeeper Steven James.

The 19-year-old had a long loan spell with Brig last season, picking up some vital first-team experience.

James later went to Nantwich Town on loan, and he could be lent out again this season to further his football education.