Team: 1. Ogden 2. Wager 3. Heap (Sub Lupepe) 4. Bellamy 5. Esdaille 6. Mancini (Sub Bryan) 7. Cocks (c) 8. Oldham 9. Thompson (Sub Dunn) 10. Clemons 11. Hooper
Subs not used: Montieth & Alderson
Bacup & Rossendale Borough gave Evo-Stik North side Bamber Bridge a real scare on their own turf after being 2-0 up with twenty minutes to go but in the end they were just too strong.
Manager Brent Peters made three changes bringing back the experienced John Ogden, Lee Oldham and club captain Daniel Cocks.
This was a big game for BARB as they were just two games away from going back to the Reebok Stadium final in which they lost there last year narrowly. Also it was an extra incentive as the league form isn’t the best at the moment.
It was the home side who threatened first with Tom Williams who struck fiercely just over the bar from thirty yards. However it was BARB who broke the deadlock first it was in magnificent fashion. A simple throw-in down the line which Cocks flicked on found the in-form Simon Thompson who came inside, realises he has space and hits a rocket from well over twenty five yards into the far corner, an absolute screamer.
After the early goal from the away side, Bamber Bridge then piled on the pressure as Paul Alexander gets his free-kick up and over the wall but fizzes inches wide, Ogden did not move.
Bacup had started very well; they may have been on the back foot for large spells but they seemed to be 100% focused and solid at the back with the powerful back four of Bellamy, Esdaille, Wager and Heap.
32 minutes passed comfortably for the Borough and they hit Bridge on a good break again as Gareth Wager fires an exquisite ball to Cocks over on the right hand side. Cocks is lethal when he gets one-on-one with his man and a few step overs and he was past the defender but his shot was harmlessly over, his teammates certainly thought that was the wrong option to take.
Bamber Bridge were trying ever so hard to break Bacup’s defence with their passing but again the team in pink were dealing with it comfortably which was reassuring to see.
Half-Time: Bamber Bridge 0-1 BARB
The second half gets underway and it started off in the same manor with the home side having most of the ball but never really threatening too much.
Borough hit Bridge on the counter attack again through Cocks down the right who again beats his man with his trickery but blazes wildly off target.
On the other hand though, at the other end the home side were getting closer and closer as Alexander again hooks inches wide from a dangerous corner.
However on 58 minutes another moment of magic from that man again Simon Thompson who you could say somehow bettered his first goal with this individual piece of brilliance. A long ball forward dropped into a great area in between the two central defenders in which Thompson chased down, got in between them, showed great strength to beat both and finish coolly with his weaker foot which sent Bacup’s bench into ecstasy. That’s five in his last five for Thompson.
2-0 up, cruising and looking comfortable, until the clock struck 70 minutes in which all their hard work was undone. Whether it was BARB losing concentration or focus, Bamber Bridge certainly turned the screw and hit a much higher gear. In the 71st minute they had one deservedly back as Curtis Thompson gets slotted in behind down the right, dinks it over the keeper to the back post in which drops in at the far post.
All of a sudden the game changed and the momentum swung massively as the Bridge faithful got louder and louder. Just two minutes later and in a blink of an eye the game was level as again they got beyond the Borough defence and a simple across the face was met by the captain Matty Kay.
79 minutes gone and unbelievably it was 3-2 to Bridge as this pendulum could not be stopped. Daniel Cocks fails to clear on the edge of his own box; Matty Kay gets slotted in and again squeezes it past Ogden.
Talk about a nightmare eight minutes for Bacup……
BARB however were still not giving up as for the whole game they showed terrific spirit and fight. A Matty Bryan free-kick found Lee Oldham’s head which goes wide but in fact was actually a good chance.
Three minutes from the end and unfortunately it was 4-2 as Bridge push forward again, a nice back heel on the edge of the box finds the onrushing full-back Jamie Hastings who comes flying in and hammers into the far corner to send them into the semi-final.
Full-Time: Bamber Bridge 4-2 Bacup & Rossendale Borough
A disastrous ten minute period undid Bacup which was so unlucky considering they more than matched a higher division side for 70 minutes and looked so comfortable yet it wasn’t to be.
Congratulations Bamber Bridge!
We will go again on Saturday where we entertain Bootle at the Brian Boys West View Stadium.
By Jay Taylor