Bamber Bridge 0 Curzon Ashton 2
Northern Premier League 1st Division North
Saturday 24th September 2011
Highfliers, Curzon Ashton, avenged their recent FA Cup defeat at Bamber Bridge with this fine 2-0 success in the First Division North at Irongate. The win helps to maintain the Tameside club’s challenge at the top of the table. As for ‘Brig’, it was the South Ribble sides second home reverse within four days following their disappointing 0-4 defeat at the hands of Warrington Town in the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup during the week.
A goal in each half was enough to see a very good workmanlike Curzon side home and dry against their gallant hosts who showed a good measure of improvement from their display against Warrington on the previous Tuesday night.
Brig kicked off on a dull and overcast day in South Ribble but it was the visitors who were first to show when Kristian Dennis headed just wide of the target on 5 minutes following a well directed corner-kick by Matthew Kay.
Brig responded quickly and a few minutes later Luke Atherton went close with a half-volley following a neat cross from the left by Stuart Howson.
Both sides settled down to play some neat and inventive football and the game was evenly balanced. However, Curzon breeched the home back line twice within as many minutes and on the second occasion got themselves in front.
Matthew Kay made a good run through from midfield before threading the ball through to Dennis down the left on 24 minutes but the visiting striker found that the angle was just too great and fired into the side netting. A minute later DENNIS put the visitors ahead when he was the quickest to react to a well taken Samuel Walker free-kick and flicked the ball beyond Brig goalkeeper Dave Stevenson.
Stung into retaliatory action, Bamber Bridge responded with gusto and Ryan Salmon was just wide from outside the Curzon box on 34 minutes, after a defence splitting through-ball from Matty Mahoney.
Curzon Ashton pushed the ball about with authority and should really have extended their lead on 40 minutes when skipper Graham Kay headed wide from an excellent position at the back post, following a well placed free-kick by James Holden.
Bamber Bridge were desperately unlucky not to have levelled matters on the stroke of half-time when, from an Alex Porter corner-kick, a Luke Atherton header was deflected wide from almost on the goal-line by team-mate Howson.
Straight after the break, Michael Fish almost took advantage of some sloppy Brig defending but shot just wide of the post.
Bamber Bridge were playing with a greater sense of urgency than was seen against Warrington during the week and began to apply a measure of pressure on the visiting rearguard. Indeed, they should have got themselves on level terms on 50 minutes following some determined play by Salmon, Danny Mahoney delayed his shot long enough for his effort to be blocked by a Curzon defender on the edge of the box when through on goal and the opportunity was gone.
Despite Brigs merited upsurge, the visitors remained workmanlike and efficient.
However, Bamber Bridge earnestly pushed forward in numbers in search of parity and their endeavours almost paid off after 66 minutes when new signing, Darren Green. who had a fine game in midfield for the homesters on his return from Clitheroe during the week, went just wide with a worthy drive from about twenty yards, following an excellent through-ball from Porter.
The game had become an absorbing contest and Stevenson denied Lee Blackshaw a minute later after a sweeping Curzon move.
Alistair Waddecar and George Bowyer then combined well down the right flank for Brig on 70 minutes and Curzon goalkeeper, Joshua Ollerenshaw saved well from the inrushing Salmon as the game swung form end to end.
However, Brig were completely undone on 79 minutes when Curzon Ashton increased their lead with what was, arguably, a touch of fortune. Under pressure, following a well directed in-swinging corner-kick by Walker from the right, LUKE ATHERTON directed the ball into his own net.
To their credit Brig kept plugging away, although the match was now beyond them.
Curzon almost got a third goal in the dying minutes, when, after a fine link up on the right between substitutes Phil Edghill and Steve Settle, Dennis fired wide of a gaping goal from the resultant cross.
Whilst Curzon were worthy winners in the end, Bamber Bridge had played their part in an excellent game of football. The home team can take some consolation from the fact that despite the eventual result, they had shown a marked improvement from their dismal FA Cup exploits during the week.
Bamber Bridge : Stevenson, Bowyer, Howson (Marlow 71mins), Atherton, White, M Mahoney, Waddecar, D Mahoney, Salmon, D Green, Porter. Unused Subs : Reynolds, Lakeland and Cass.
Attendance : 118