Bamber Bridge surrendered a 3-0 lead to Witton Albion on Tuesday night, with a draw that dealt a severe blow to their play-off hopes and provoked a fierce tongue-lashing from manager Tony Greenwood.Advertisement
At 3-0 up, Brig appeared home and dry at the start of the second half, but a spirited fight back by Albion put paid to their hopes of ending a run of five home games without a win.
The match turned on its head in the last five minutes with the score at 3-1, as Albion grabbed two quick goals to draw level.
The first deflected in from striker Andy Kinsey’s shot on 88 minutes.
Forward Alex Titchiner then coolly finished the equaliser in the final minute of added time.
Latching onto a header as it came over his shoulder, Titchiner lobbed a right-footed volley over Brig keeper Ben Hinchliffe and into the roof of the net.
Brig quickly gathered for the restart but, before they could make their way out of the centre circle, the referee blew an ironic whistle for full-time.
Furious manager Tony Greenwood then launched into a five-minute tirade of expletives at his players in the changing room, before angrily taking off in his car.
Standing in for Greenwood, assistant manager Andy Crowe said: “To be leading 3-0 and to let them come back to 3-3; it’s a disgrace really.”
The unfortunate half-time substitution of Brig captain Michael White due to a calf injury left the home side with little experience at the heart of their defence.
And Crowe felt it was a telling factor in their second-half demise: “We had seven lads under 20 years of age and people didn’t know what their jobs were.”
“You lose your captain and then we’ve nobody else with any experience on there.”
Albion goalscorer Kinsey felt the teams were fairly matched but admitted Albion had “escaped”.
Brig had started the game in confident mood as striker Richard Allen ran onto a Gavin Clark pass and slid the ball into the bottom right-hand corner on five minutes.
The teams were evenly matched in midfield, but Brig looked dangerous on the counter-attack and Allen was finding plenty of space behind Albion’s defence.
Midway through the half, another Brig break saw a silky interchange between Sean Williams and Allen, finished by midfielder Williams who, from 18 yards out, side-footed a shot first time into the Albion net.
Five minutes before the break Allen rounded off a classy first half as he swerved inside, beating Albion’s Matt Wood and dummying the keeper, before slamming the ball into the back of the net from close range.
Witton came out for the second half without right-back Wood after his 45 minutes of torment at the hands of Allen.
The Cheshire side started their fightback with a goal on 47 minutes as Kinsey reacted quickest after Hinchliffe saved his header.
Brig were then forced to remove Allen on 58 minutes because of stomach cramps, leaving the home side without their star striker and a useful outlet.
Referee Mike Parry dished out a couple of late yellow cards as Brig’s frustration began to show and their defence began to falter.
And Albion were rewarded for their consistent pressure with the two dramatic late goals capping off what can certainly be described by the old adage as ‘a game of two halves’.
The result leaves Bridge in 12th position in the Evo-Stick First Division North table, 11 points outside the play-off places.