Marine 0 - 2 Bamber Bridge
By Ruth Hornby
We are staying up!
Bamber Bridge ensured Evostik Northern Premier League survival on a glorious Easter Monday Afternoon at The Marine Travel Arena, home of Marine AFC with a superb performance and a 2-0 victory. That result alongside defeats for Stalybridge Celtic and Mickleover Sports guaranteed Brig a 2nd season in the Premier League. It’s been a remarkable turnaround in such a short space of time. Three wins on the spin have ensured survival with a game to spare.
Bamber Bridge arrived at Marine AFC on the back of consecutive wins and were looking to make it 3 wins in a row for the first time this season. The visitors started the brighter of the two teams and the drive and desire was evident straight from the kick off. Brig piled on the early pressure and won a string of corners. Danny Forbes being denied in the 5th minute as his header from a left wing corner was grabbed by the keeper at the 2nd attempt. Forbes then chipped a delightful ball in to the box for Ali Waddecar, but the keeper raced from his line to make the save. Brig where well on top and Regan Linney saw a great effort blocked after Ali Waddecar had played the ball back to him following a surging run down the left wing.
Twenty minutes in and it was all Brig, Joe Booth seeing a freekick blocked as the The Irongate piled on the pressure. With no lead from their early dominance the home side grew into the game, Lloyd Rigby was forced into the 1st of many fine saves on 25 minutes following a terrific 60 yard run and shot. Moments later a Marine effort cannoned back off the bar and was cleared to safety. Then on 30 minutes the home side were awarded a penalty, a cross from the right evaded everyone but Danny Forbes was adjudged to have pulled back the Marine striker and the referee pointed to the spot. Danny Mitchley stepped up and drove the penalty down the centre of the goal, Lloyd Rigby diving to his right brilliantly saved with his legs and the ball was cleared.
Straight to the other end and as Scott Harries twisted in the penalty area, he was upended. Penalty to Brig. Ali Waddecar stepped forward and calmly planted the ball into the bottom corner to give Brig the lead. With their tails up Brig looked to add to their one goal advantage as they pushed the hosts back, Matt Lawlor rose at the back post to head a corner back across goal to find Danny Forbes who was again unlucky has he brought the ball down, swivelled and got in a shot that was blocked on the line. The half came to an end with Brig deservedly leading 1-0
With The 2nd half literally seconds old, Brig doubled their lead. A high ball into the box form the right, found Ali clear in the penalty area, he let the ball drop over his shoulder before volleying home a beauty that flew in to the net off the far post, much to the delight of Ali and the travelling Brig fans behind the goal.
The goal certainly settled any nerves on the pitch, if not on the terraces, as Brig controlled the match superbly. Another surging Ali run down the right almost made it 3, as his low cross flashed across the 6 yard box evading everyone. Matt Dudley then saw a shot whistle inches past the post after a great touch had set him free. On the hour Brig made their 1st change of the game, Chris Marlow replacing Scott Harries as the visitors looked to close out the game. Fans on the terraces were checking their phones and aware that scores elsewhere were in our favour and safety today was a real possibility.
The home side weren't’ quite ready to throw the towel in however and on 3 occasions Lloyd Rigby had to be alert and at his best to keep the Merseysiders at bay. Brig were still more than effective on the break and Regan Linney saw a volley flash over the bar after Ali Waddecar had chested the ball down to him. Regan, who had run his socks off went off ta standing ovation from the visiting fans on 75 mins as he was replaced by Owen Watkinson. The young Blackpool striker making an instant impact as he burst through form the left only to see the linesman's flag raised.
Time seemed to be passing very slowly and Lloyd Rigby was called upon one last time to on 90 minutes finger tipping the ball away for a corner. As Added time ebbed away the Brig supporters realised that The Great Escape was on, and moments later the referee confirmed it with the full time whistle. The players huddled together before letting out a resounding roar as they learned of results elsewhere and they were staying up.
The Brig team marched to the far end of the ground to celebrate with the supporters. The Great Escape had been achieved and Bamber Bridge will once again compete in the Northern Premier League next season. The introduction of midfielder Joe Booth by Mickey Taylor just a few weeks ago, being the Master-stroke that lifted the whole squad and gave the players the belief they could defy the odds and beat the drop. A Magnificent effort from all involved.
Full Time: Marine AFC – 0 Bamber Bridge – 2
Bamber Bridge: Rigby, Churchman, Dodd, Lawlor (Capt), Charnock, Forbes, Booth, Waddecar, Linney, Harries, Dudley,
Subs: Doughty, Buchan, McGiveron, Marlow, Watkinson
Match report: Alan Bateson