The Non-League Football Paper - - NPL PREMIER - By Andy Simp­son

THESE are still the early stages of a new sea­son but both teams were sat­is­fied de­spite play­ing out a stale­mate.

Gains­bor­ough Trin­ity ar­rived in North­wich buoyed by scor­ing eight goals dur­ing an FA Cup re­play vic­tory against Chase­town in mid­week.

How­ever they were greeted by hosts with a stur­dier de­fence.

In­deed, Wit­ton Al­bion have shut out their op­po­nents in half of their North­ern Premier League matches to date this sea­son.

“My play­ers de­serve credit for how they de­fended,” said man­ager Carl Ma­cauley af­ter­wards on his side’s share of the spoils.

“They never lost fo­cus on ev­ery cor­ner, throw-in or sit­u­a­tion when a ball was sent into our penalty area.

“That kept us in a con­test with a side that came here sec­ond in the ta­ble and who I be­lieve will chal- lenge for the ti­tle. We went toe-to-toe with them, and have been re­warded for our ef­forts with a hard-earned point.”

A terse con­test was re­peat­edly in­ter­rupted by the sound of ref­eree Daniel Bruce’s whis­tle, and he showed a yel­low card to five play­ers be­fore the break.

Wit­ton went clos­est to scor­ing when Rob Ho­p­ley’s loop­ing header from Danny McKenna’s cross dipped too late to cause goal­keeper Jon Ste­wart any con­cern.

The lat­ter then curled a

free-kick past an up­right, while at the other end Al­bion cus­to­dian Greg Hall needed two at­tempts to even­tu­ally tame a set-piece struck pow­er­fully by Alex Byrne.

There were more at­tempts on goal af­ter the in­ter­val although Josh War­dle couldn’t con­trol a header from James Fo­ley’s set-piece.

At the other end, Byrne’s ef­fort flashed over af­ter he con­jured an open­ing.

Ash­ley Wors­fold, Gains­bor­ough’s cen­tre-for­ward, was brave to throw him­self in the way of River Humphreys’ goal-bound drive af­ter Ste­wart had failed to meet a free-kick with his fist.

McKenna’s arc­ing shot, af­ter he had driven in­field from the right, then brushed an up­right.

The vis­i­tors’ best spell fol­lowed as Wit­ton tired, and the force of Damian Reeves’ at­tempt on goal ebbed af­ter strik­ing a de­fender.

Alex Sim­mons’ free-kick was too close to Hall, while Billy Smart’s header was off-tar­get from Will Jones’ scooped cross when Al­bion man­aged to muster one fi­nal at­tack.

“It wasn’t pretty, but I thought we adapted well,” re­flected Gains­bor­ough mid­fielder Si­mon Rus­sell af­ter­wards.

“We’re con­tent with a point away from home, more so with a clean-sheet which is some­thing that we wanted.

“It was a tough game, and we had to match them in a bat­tle be­cause they were up for one.”

NO WAY THROUGH: Wit­ton’s James Fo­ley takes on two men

PIC­TURE: Me­dia Image

UN­DER PRES­SURE: Wit­ton’s Danny McKenna drives for­ward

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