South Shields 3 - 3 Bamber Bridge
A "winning draw" for Brig
Most drawn matches on your travels are “good away points”, Some, like Saturdays point at high flying South Shields are best described as season defining moments. That Bamber Bridge came from 3-1 down midway through the second half to grab a point, and almost a victory, against a side who up to this match had a 100% home record, shows tremendous character and attitude.
South Shields were sitting pretty at the top of the division when the Brig coach rolled in to town. A sensational home record that has seen them claim three points in every home League game this season and that record looked set to continue when within a minute of the kick off, they took the lead. Nathan Lowe finding the bottom corner from the edge of the area with a fine shot to send the vast majority of the 1,582 crowd into raptures.
The afternoon now looked a daunting prospect for The Briggers, but they responded well. On 10 minutes a scramble in the South Shields box led to penalty appeals when the ball seemed to be diverted away from danger by the hand of a defender. Brig continued to probe and despite not creating much in the way of clear cut chances, still looked the equal of their lofty opponents. With an almost Gale force wind at their backs however, the hosts were very dangerous on the break and twice Lloyd Rigby in the Brig goal made smart stops.
Adam Dodd tried his luck with a twenty yard effort but the wind assisted in bending the ball away from goal and wide of the post and Danny Forbes struck a volley over the bar following a fine passing move down the left wing. With Brig looking to go into the break with just the one gaol deficit and the prospect of a wind assisted 2nd half to come, disaster struck in the 45th minute. A corner from the left, was headed on to the cross bar by Shields Neil Briggs and fell to Jon Shaw to volley home from close range.
The 2nd half began with the hosts pinning Brig back in the hope of finding the 3rd killer goal. Brig weathered the early storm as just as in the 1st half began to impose themselves on the home side. A free kick whipped in from the left was met with an Ali Waddecar flick header that forced a fine near post save from the home keeper. Moments later and a wind assisted Brig corner was headed off the goalline, it fell to Waddecar who was upended as he controlled the ball. Penalty…. Ali stepped up and stroked the ball into the bottom corner. 2-1.. Game on.
Tails up, Brig pushed the hosts back and Adam Dodd saw an effort clear the bar as The Visitors looked for the equaliser. Thoughts of taking a point however, looked to have been quashed minutes later when South Shields were awarded a penalty themselves. A long forward ball was caught in the wind and as Matt Lawlor went to the clear the ball, the home striker appeared to simply fall over his leg. Brig protested but to no avail and the penalty was calmly dispatched to give the home side a 3-1 advantage going into the last 15 minutes.
Far from letting their heads drop, Brig roared back. Regan Linney came on to replace the hard working Danny Forbes and his movement immediately began to cause the home defence problems. On 80 minutes, Regan found space on the right hand side of the area, and chipped forward a delightful dinked pass to Matt Dudley, who squared for the inrushing Chris Marlow to slam home from 8 yards. The hosts were now rattled and Brig piled on the late pressure.
Just 3 minutes later and it was all square. To the absolute delight of the small band of Bamber Bridge supporters behind the goal, Matt Lawlor rose to meet a corner from the right. His superb downward header from 10 yards bounced down, over the keepers outstretched hand and in off the far post. All square at 3-3 and Brig now looked the more likely to claim all 3 points.
With just two minutes remaining the chance to claim all the points arrived at the feet of “Goose”, Ali Waddecar had burst free down the right, squared the ball to Chris Marlow, who took a touch before drilling a shot from the edge of the box that flashed just wide of the post.
That was the last opportunity for Brig as South Shields mounted a last ditch assault on the visitors defence. Brig made a late change with recent signing James McCarten who had had a fine debut making way for Phil Doughty as Brig looked to secure the point. 5 minutes of added time came from somewhere but The Brig defence held firm to claim a terrific point. The Bamber Bridge players and fans alike celebrated the point as they would had it been all three.
Our hosts, South Shields, surely the most gracious fans in the League took it on the chin and congratulated the Brig fans on a sterling 2nd half fightback. Despite their obvious disappointment at losing their 100% home record, to a man they showed Bamber Bridge the utmost respect.
Full time, a fantastic advert for the Evostik NPL and a superb 3-3 scoreline.
Bamber Bridge: Rigby, Spooner, Dodd, Lawlor, McCarten, Churchman, Waddecar, Forbes, Dudley, Harries, Marlow
Subs: Doughty, Linney, McKnight, Buchan, Roccia
Match reporter: Alan Bateson
Photo: Peter Nowell