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Kendal Town 2-3 Bamber Bridge
THE old boys’ network ruled at Parkside Road with debutant Alex Taylor and Zach Clark returning to haunt former club Kendal as Bamber Bridge enhanced their play-off charge.
Despite Danny Mitchley finding the net for the first time this calendar year, strikes from the ex-Mintcakes duo ensured Bamber Bridge led at half-time.
Shortly after Ricky Mercer scored his first goal in Kendal colours to haul his side level, substitute Chris Marlow netted the Brig winner with five minutes remaining.
Rob Wilson returned to the Kendal line-up in place of Will Bell who has returned to parent club Morecambe, with Mercer switching to centre-half alongside Kevin Brown.
The home side opened the scoring on 19 minutes as Mitchley drilled home from the edge of the penalty area to score his first goal since the Boxing Day clash at Lancaster City.
Clark never really hit top form for Kendal this season and signed for Bamber Bridge last month after initially joining North West Counties Premier Division outfit Squires Gate on loan.
No doubt eager to prove a point, the winger was denied an equaliser on 21 minutes by a lunging Brown block after latching onto Alistair Waddecarr’s pass.
And with the visitors turning the screw, a speculative long-range effort from centre-back Matt Lawler struck the Kendal crossbar with Danny MacDonald beaten.
Shortly before the half-hour mark Brig were level as Taylor headed home from inside the six-yard box after Waddecarr’s shot from Clark’s cross was palmed away by MacDonald.
Taylor only signed for Neil Crowe’s side 24 hours before the match and scored his third goal of the campaign against Kendal after his double for Northwich Victoria back in October.
Kendal were forced into a reshuffle following the withdrawal of Brown through injury, with Callum Hoctor coming on at left-back and Jack Smith moving into central defence.
On 33 minutes Brig took the lead as the impressive Clark planted a header past MacDonald and into the far corner of the net from Waddecarr’s left-wing cross.
The away side continued to dominate as Clark played in Curtis Thompson only for the midfielder to fluff his lines and place a shot narrowly wide of the post.
And before the half-time whistle, Taylor forced MacDonald into a sprawling save before the same player glanced Waddecarr’s corner past the post.
There were very few chances created in the second period until the game exploded into life in the final quarter of an hour.
With 15 minutes remaining, Mitchley’s progress into the area was halted with the ball rebounding to Warren Beattie whose shot was tipped over by Brig stopper Lee Dovey.
Moments later Hoctor flashed an effort wide from a tight angle after Mitchley and Danny Coid combined down the left flank.
But Kendal were not to be denied and forced themselves level in the 81st minute, Mercer stabbing home from close range after Beattie turned Wilson’s free-kick across the six-yard box.
But with only four defeats in their last 20 league games, in-form Bamber Bridge showed their resilience to dust themselves down and pursue a late winner.
With five minutes remaining, Marlow – an early replacement for Tom Williams – collected a Matt Mahoney cross from the right before lifting the ball over MacDonald.
Kendal were not quite finished as Wilson saw a last-gasp free-kick clip the top of the crossbar although Brig held on as their march towards the division’s play-offs continues.
Kendal Town: Danny MacDonald, John Ross, Jack Smith, Warren Beattie (c), Ricky Mercer, Kevin Brown (Callum Hoctor 28), Rob Wilson, Danny Coid, Danny Mitchley, Maison McGeechan, Mike Rushton (Colin Watson 60). Subs not used: Lewis Finney, Ollie Mathieson
Bamber Bridge: Lee Dovey, Matt Mahoney, George Bowyer, Matt Lawler, Paul Alexander, Matty Kay (c), Alistair Waddecarr, Curtis Thompson, Tom Williams (Chris Marlow 12), Alex Taylor, Zach Clark (Mark Buchan 82). Subs not used: Jerome Watt, Roberto Bonaminio, Lennie Reid