Northern Premier League 1st Division North
Saturday 5th November 2011
By Dave Rowland
Bamber Bridge failed to record their fourth consecutive win in the First Division North following this 1-3 defeat at Cedar Ridge against their West Yorkshire hosts Garforth Town. The visitors put in a battling display however, with their efforts deserving of at least a share of the spoils. As it was, the South Ribble side lost their first ever game at the venue after having won three and drawn one out of their previous four visits.
Brig kicked off on a very chilly, but dry afternoon at Cedar Ridge, but it was the home side who got into their stride first and opened their account with the first meaningful effort on goal after just 11 minutes. Dempsey Smith worked his way into the Brig box before rolling the ball back into the path of ADAM PRIESTLEY who had been following-up behind. Priestley found the back of the net with a superb low drive from just beyond the left-hand corner of the box.
Moments later, it could have been two when Smith grazed the top of the visitors crossbar with a header following a cross from the right by Paul Walker.
Town threatened to overwhelm their Lancashire guests as they swarmed onto the offensive and Brig goalkeeper Lee Dovey kept his side in the game with a double save on 22 minutes when blocking a low Priestley drive, before denying Walker with the follow-up from twenty yards out.
Dovey again thwarted Walker when tipping the Town strikers’ effort over the bar as ‘The Miners’ continued to look menacing.
Bamber Bridge had defended well and resolutely in the face of the onslaught and began to find their own rhythm as the half wore on. Indeed, their confidence remained intact and the tide turned as the home sides’ control started to diminish.
Chris Marlow and Ryan Salmon combined superbly in the 34th minute and almost created a Brig equaliser after they exchanged passes deep on the left. Salmon beat Town goalkeeper Ben Higginson with a deft shot as the keeper came out to narrow the angle, but the effort drifted inches past the far post. A top drawer Neil Reynolds rising drive from the edge of the Town box moments later was tipped over by Higginson in fine style as Brig began to call all the shots.
However, Garforth almost increased their lead on 40 minutes when Dovey moved from his goal-line quickly to block a Smith snap-shot from point-blank range following an excellent cross from the right by Town skipper Milton Turner.
Intriguingly, the game remained finely balanced at half-time as the players left the field and everyone looked forward to a keenly contested second-half. We were not to be disappointed.
As was anticipated, Brig came out fighting at the restart with flying wingman, Alistair Waddecar, and overlapping full-back, George Bowyer, causing the home team all kinds of problems down their left. Indeed, the visitors audacious approach was to be well rewarded on 55 minutes when they drew level with a fine goal. Brig’s mercurial midfielder, Danny Mahoney neatly tucked the ball through the home defence for RYAN SALMON to latch onto and the eager striker smacked the ball home beyond Higginson from the edge of the box.
Brig were now forcing the pace and were desperately unlucky not to have got their noses in front on 62 minutes when Higginson got down quickly to save with his legs from a well struck Danny Mahoney free-kick from twenty-five yards out.
Dovey tipped over a rising Walker shot at the other end on 63 minutes as the game began to open up, before the homesters got back in front following a fine sweeping three-man move a minute later. Substitute Lawrence Hunter found Chris Fisher in oceans of room down the left with a superb cross-field pass out of defence, as a Brig attack faltered. Fisher whipped a low ball over at pace and the inrushing DEMPSEY SMITH dived in to send an unstoppable header beyond the startled Dovey.
Despite the set-back, Brig continued to push the ball about with authority and Waddecar’s enterprise almost produced a goal for the visitors on 72 minutes when he ran through from midfield and sent in a drive which Higginson did well to save. Salmon came close two minutes later when his high curling effort from the left went just beyond the angle of post and crossbar, as Brig manfully strove to get back on terms.
Bamber Bridge threw everything forward in the final ten minutes as the home team clung on desperately to their slender lead. Danny Mahoney was unlucky to have a good attempt on goal blocked by a defender on 85 minutes before a Matt Jones header went just past the goalpost from a Waddecar corner-kick two minutes later, as the pressure increased on the home defence. A Salmon header was deflected wide from a defenders shoulder in a frantic last throw of the dice for Brig, before the gallant visitors fell victim to the inevitable sucker-punch.
Fully committed and over-stretched as a consequence, Brig got caught out when Town grabbed a third goal from a breakaway on 90 minutes. Town substitute Fernando Moke broke free unimpeded down the right flank following another desperate Brig raid, and sent in a perfect cross to the unmarked ADAM PRIESTLEY who touched the ball home after rounding the stranded Dovey.
Perhaps the jubilant reaction from the home players and support, was one of relief as much as delight, whilst desolation showed on the faces of the visiting players in equal measure.
It had been a fine game of football throughout and played in the right spirit between two sides who were prepared to give their all. Brig however, will be understandably disappointed that they did not get at least a point to bring back home over the Pennines.
Bamber Bridge : Dovey, Bowyer, Lakeland, Atherton, White, Jones, Waddecar, D Mahoney, Salmon, Reynolds, Marlow (Cass 68mins). Unused Subs : D Green, Gonzales and Watson.
Attendance : 118