Crowe targets major upset

Neil Crowe
Neil Crowe

BAMBER Bridge boss Neil Crowe is relishing the prospect of causing a huge upset in the FA Cup tomorrow (Saturday)

The Irongate men welcome Chorley to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium in the third round of qualifying.

Whoever wins tomorrow will be just one more win away from the first round proper – and a possible tie against a Football League club.

Crowe knows his team face an uphill battle to progress through to the fourth qualifying round against the Magpies, who are two divisions above them in the football pyramid.

Garry Flitcroft’s men are currently second in the Conference North, while Brig have dropped to eighth in the NPL First Division North after a run of three games without a win. A four-figure crowd is expected and Crowe believes his men can use their tag of underdogs to their advantage.

He said: “It’s a big, big game for us and Chorley. By all accounts there is going to be a big crowd – one of the biggest crowds in Bamber Bridge’s history.

“The players are looking forward to it. I am just hoping that they rise to the occasion and give a good account of ourselves.

“We are underdogs but I would prefer to be the underdogs because we are going into the game with nobody expecting us to win.

“But the players and myself do believe we can get something out of the game.”

Crowe is full of praise for the job Flitcroft has done with the Magpies since he took the reins at Victory Park in 2010. “I get on quite well with Garry. I have spoken to him quite a bit over the last three or four years, although the last time I spoke to him was when we played them in pre-season,” Crowe said.

“He’s done a great job there – taken them to two promotions. They are a very strong side, well organised and we know it’s going to be a massive test for us.

“We go into the match not fearing anybody, but we know we will have to be up for the battle because if we are not, we will get turned over.”

The home side will have to be at their best to keep Chorley’s formidable forward line of Josh Hine, James Dean and Darren Stephenson at bay.

“The big man up front James Dean is a handful,” Crowe said. “Then they have two good runners either side of him in Hine and Stephenson.

“They are very good players at this level. But they have also got a strong, organised back four and a good balance all over the pitch.”

Brig warmed up for tomorrow’s clash with another derby encounter against Lancaster City at home on Tuesday night.

Chris Marlow looked to have handed Brig all three points when he put them 3-2 ahead in the 90th minute but Ryan Winder stole a point for City with an equaliser in the 95th minute.

“That was disappointing,” said Crowe. “The ref said there were three minutes of added time and they scored after four minutes and 30 seconds of added time.

“But I was disappointed with our lads that, having gone ahead, we didn’t shut up shop. The draw was probably a fair result.”

One positive was the performance of ex-PNE star Paul McKenna, who scored with a free-kick.

“It was a cracking free-kick. Right in the top corner – no keeper would have saved it. Paul is getting better all the time – I thought he was oustanding on Tuesday.”

Crowe has fitrness coincerns over Matt Mahoney and Matt Lawlor