Dull draw enough for play-off spot

Both sides came safely through the final league game of the season to clinch a play-off place, but such was the tension surrounding the game, that the quality of the football did not match the occasion.

Blue skies and a crowd approaching 500 waited in anticipation of an entertaining match, but, on that score, were disappointed.

Ultimately, though, the result was more important than the performance, as the all-important play-off places allowed both sides to enter the end-of-season lottery and a chance of securing the second promotion spot in Evo-Stik North.

As a result of the draw, Bamber Bridge travel to Warrington Town, whilst Ramsbottom United make the lengthy journey up to meet Darlington at Bishop Auckland.

The game itself was a disappointment with both teams appearing to cancel one another out. 

The majority of the few chances in the first half fell to the visitors. After Steve Howson headed a corner from Owen Roberts wide for the home side, the visitors began to look the more likely to break the duck.

Curtis Thompson saw his 25 yard drive tipped over by Martin Fearon, before Lennie Reid took centre stage. Three times he looked to open the scoring.

On 17 minutes, at the end of an incisive move he fired just over the bar, and moments later he saw his effort drift wide.

On 33 minutes he should have given Brig the lead as he was left unmarked by the far post but failed to direct his header goal-wards.

Phil Dean came closest for the home side when he wriggled his way into the area, but Lee Dovey, in the Bamber bridge goal, easily dealt with the threat.

Indeed, the visitors were indebted to Dovey in the second half as he pulled off a number of excellent saves, none more so than in the 47th minute.

Grant Spencer’s incisive through ball saw Jordan Hulme race in to the area only to be felled.  The referee pointed to the spot, but leading scorer Lee Gaskell’s penalty was pushed away by Dovey diving to his right.

The custodian came to the rescue again on 71 minutes when Dean beat the offside trap and raced in on goal.  His shot was gathered by Dovey and one of the few genuine chances of the match went begging.

Hulme came close with a volley from a corner but again Dovey saved the visitors by diving back and gathering the ball before it crossed the line.

A late half-volley from Gaskell sailed well over the bar, as neither goal was breached, and, in all fairness, rarely looked like being.

Perhaps the tension of the occasion got to the players, but both sides, whilst being satisfied with their final league position, would have taken very little from this game.

For them both, though, the final week of the season opens with hopes of a successful conclusion to what has been another excellent and entertaining season.

RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Fearon, Spencer, Roberts (Pugh 72mins), Stopforth, Warrender, Priestley, Hulme, Burton, Howson, Gaskell, Dean (Smalley 72mins).  Subs not used: Toth, Krou, Johnson