Thirty bags of sand, and then thirty minutes preparation, Russ Wilcox opted for an unchanged sixteen, and he was to be rewarded for his faith in a consistent line up. A poor clearance gave Fraser Preston the chance to slide in Declan Howe, but Howe could only drag wide. Howe wouldn't have long to open the scoring though, George Hornshaw finding fellow full back Lewis Butroid, and Butroid slid the ball invitingly across the face of goal, where Howe was on hand to nudge home from close range.

Gainsborough dominated the opening half an hour, and should have been out of sight. Master of mayhem, Declan Howe having opportunities to add to his tally. James Pradic beating away Howe’s effort low to his right, before Howe turned provider, getting away down the left, the hitman looking for his strike partner Preston. Only for the threat to be repelled by Wilson at the heart of the Bamber defence.

Just past the midway point of the half, Bailey Conway almost scored what woud have been the undoubted ‘Goal of the Season’. Ashley Jackson saw Conway in field, effortlessly picking him out with a throw in field, Conway striking the ball brilliantly on the dipping volley that had Pradic rooted to the spot, waiting for the net to buldge. A whisker over the bar. Speculative effort from Jack Baxter took a wicked deflection, looping up and over Wharton to put the hosts back on terms with a quarter of an hour to play.

Half Time: Bamber Bridge 1 Gainsborough Trinity 1

Bamber Bridge started the second half in similar vein to how they finished the first half. Good forwards play from Scarborough found his strike partner Mark Cullen, but the home forward dragged his effort wide of goal. The first quarter of an hour of the second period was all Brig, with Danny Forbes flicking a foot at a right wing centre from Churchman, though his effort didn't trouble Wharton.

At the other end, perhaps against the run of play, Hornshaw restored Gainsborough's lead. Firing home his first of the season from the edge of the box. His low right-footed effort evading the despairing dive of Pradic. Ashley Jackson was heavily involved - his deep cross recovered by Preston, who kept the ball in and around the box, teeing up Hornshaw to strike.

Twenty minutes from time, the hosts came forward through Churchman. His cross finding the head of Scarborough, but the centre forward couldn't find the headed finish he was looking for. Not troubling Wharton with his effort. Wharton saved from point blank range, as Trinity defended like their lives depended on it and with the hosts pressing for an equaliser, including throwing centre back Grand up top. Trinity threw bodies in the way. Blocked, harried and harassed their hosts, with a solid blue wall.

Seven minutes from time, Wharton plunged to his left to deny Brig substitute Jeff Adubofour, before Michael Potts missed his kick when well placed. And the Holy Blues exploited the space afforded at the back, and the missed opportunities to seal all three points in added time. Howe got in down the side and stood up a cross to the far post, that was met by Lewis Butroid, diving at full length, to head home the third, and hand Russ Wilcox's men a two goal cushion, with minutes of added time left to play. Both full backs getting their name on the score sheet, as goals continue to come from all sources!

Victory secured, making it seven wins from eight and a delightful ninth win of 2024, setting Trinity up for the home game of the Easter weekend, against Stafford Rangers, superbly! 3pm on Bank Holiday Monday at the Kal Group Stadium. You wouldn't want to miss it!

The Teams

Bamber Bridge: James Pradic (GK), Christopher Churchman, Jack Baxter, Michael Potts, Macauley Wilson (Jeff Adubofour 74) Simon Grand, Callum Leigh, Amadou Doumbouya, Harry Scarborough, Mark Cullen (Billy Bould 65) Danny Forbes (Chris Marlow 65).

Gainsborough Trinity: Dylan Wharton (GK), George Hornshaw, Ashley Jackson, Bailey Conway, Hamish Douglas, Dylan Cogill, Lewis Butroid, Bobby Johnson, Fraser Preston (Dayle Southwell 74) Declan Howe, Joe Stacey (Connor Shanks 54). Subs: Nat Wallace, Josh Render (GK), Jack Moore-Billam.

Bamber Goal: Jack Baxter (32)
Trinity Goals: Declan Howe (8), George Hornshaw (60), Lewis Butroid (92)
Attendance: 537
Referee: Mr Parnaby

Report by Rob Hughes (@AATM_Media)
Photos by Ruth Hornby, courtesy of Bamber Bridge