The last League match before the National lockdown and at least a one month break, brings us to Morpeth Town in the North East for a first ever visit to Craik Park. A mere 159 miles for a midweek match which ended with a 2-1 defeat for the Lancashire visitors in a contest that could be seen as a carbon copy of several of the recent away matches. A bright start from Bamber Bridge, chances missed only for the home side to score with their only real two chances off the half. A second half fight back, a late goal but once again not enough to rescue a point.
The long journey saw the team coach arrive at the ground just 25 minutes before Kick off, So for the players it was pretty much off the bus, get changed and prepare to play. The game kicked off 5 minutes later than scheduled but it was the visitors from Lancashire who set the early pace.
Joseph Rodwell-Grant had the first Brig effort on goal in the 5th minute as he received the ball with his back to goal at the edge of the penalty area. He turned and fired in a shot which drifted wide of the post. Moments later and the PNE loanee again came close as he broke free, but his chipped effort again missed the target and fell wide.
A headed chance for Morpeth cleared the bar before Rodwell-Grant again came close, this time with a fierce drive that had the home keeper scrambling across goal only for the ball to be deflected past the post. However, as has been the case so often this season, the home side took the lead with their first real attack of the match, an initial shot cannoned back off the post before the ball landed at the feet of the Morpeth striker who was upended as he shaped to shoot. Ben Sayer stepped up to drill the ball home from the spot to give the hosts the lead on 20 minutes.
Rodwell-Grant who was having a fine game for Brig then saw an effort saved by the keeper, the ball rebounded to Matt Dudley who from 6 yards out with goal at his mercy, spooned the ball high over then bar. These are the small margins that are costing Bamber Bridge so dearly. Another Brig shot flew high and wide before, on their next attack in the 36th minute Morpeth Town doubled their lead. A long free kick from the right fell to an unmarked Chris Reid who struck a superb Half volley back across goal and into the bottom corner of the net.
Brig ended the half with a series of corners but the home keeper was untroubled and the first period ended with Brig trailing 2-0 having had the Lions share of possession and created several chances.
The second half started as the first had ended with Bamber Bridge on the front foot. A Matt Dudley Header 6 yards out from a Luke Higham cross lacked power and the home keeper scooped up the ball comfortably. A Rodwell-Grant shot was blocked and a Matt Lawlor header from a corner was deflected wide for a corner as The Reds looked for a way back into the game.
On the hour Mark Yeates came on to replace Matt Dudley. Isaac Sinclair then saw a shot clip the outside of the post as Brig continued to press. The visitors were then forced into a 2nd substitution, Matt Lawlor leaving the pitch after treatment to be replaced by Scott Burton. As the half wore on, the home side began to take control and for a 15 minute spell midway through the second period the visitors were pegged back. The hosts spurned several chances to increase their lead with shots flying high and wide at regular intervals with Brig unable to stem the flow.
On 80 minutes however, Bamber Bridge pulled a goal back, a corner from the left was met on the volley by George Thomason from 8 yards and blasted into the roof of the net. Unfortunately the expected late surge from Brig never really materialised as the home side slowed the game down at every opportunity and stopped Brig from mounting any kind of pressure. A fracas on 83 minutes involving several players saw George Thomason, Adam O'Reilly and a home player find their names in the referees notebook.
On 86 minutes Morpeth had the chance to make the points safe when they were awarded a second penalty for a clear foul just inside the box. The resultant spot kick was blazed high and wide. With 4 minutes still remaining Brig just could not get hold of the ball, but one chance did present itself on 90 minutes, a fine through ball found Chris Marlow advancing into the area on the left hand side. Goose chose to cut inside but turned into two defenders who between them cleared the danger. Four minutes of added time came and went with no further chances for Brig and the referee brought proceedings to an end leaving Bamber Bridge once again to rue missed chances and suffer a 6th League defeat in a row.
The enforced Lockdown now gives Brig a month, at least to lick their wounds and restart the season. It must be said, Bamber Bridge have played well tonight, aa they have in recent games, and once again its little consolation to hear the opposition fans telling us how well we have played and were unlucky not to take something from the game.. The team were well deserving of at least a point this evening but Brig simply didn’t take the chances when they came and the hosts did.
Finally a mention to our hosts. A really friendly place to visit and a nice ground.
Full Time: Morpeth Town - 2. Bamber Bridge - 1
Bamber Bridge; Hudson, Thomson, Higham, Lawlor (Capt.), Wisdom, Wilson, O’Reilly, Thomason, Rodwell-Grant, Sinclair, Dudley
Subs: Yeates, Churchman, Burton, King-Harmes, Marlow.