By Emil Anderson

ON a spring afternoon Atherton Collieries and Droylsden could not muster a goal as they played out a keenly-contested stalemate at the Butchers Arms.

The return of skipper Danny Lafferty was the only change to the line up from the Chasetown encounter seven days previously as Michael Clegg’s team looked to continue their recent impressive run of form.

They wore black armbands out of respect for former chairman Steve Payne, who passed away during the week.

The opening half was a spirited affair with both teams looking to play the game on the deck, and cancelling each other out.

The hosts edged the half-chances created, although neither Chris Thompson in the Bloods’ goal nor his opposite number Greg Hartley were called upon often.

Hartley was, however, forced to make a great one-on-one stop from the menacing Sefton Gonzales while Thompson somehow tipped a goalbound Oli Roberts free kick onto the bar. Tom Bentham dispatched the rebound from point-blank range but the assistant referee had his flag up, much to Colls’ frustration.

Atherton put in a much-improved performance after the break but the game continued in a similar vein.

Defences continued to dominate as the attackers struggled to find ways of cracking the safe.

Hartley made a perfunctory save from a Steven Rigby set piece and a Roberts free kick caused a moment of panic in the Droylsden penalty box before being booted to safety.

Late in the day Gareth Peet made a last-ditch textbook penalty box challenge as the trigger was about to be pulled and at the other end Josh Peet had an opportunity to see his name up in lights.

However, his sweetly-struck cross-shot whisked narrowly wide with Thompson beaten and the game ended goalless.

A point apiece was a fair result as Colls took their unbeaten run of games into double figures.

Though the attackers had a blank day the defence once again put in a quality performance to earn a fifth clean sheet in a row.

Clegg was more than content with the point, insisting their hosts are one of the best sides in Evo-Stik West.

Colls – whose lead at the top of the table has been cut to four points thanks to Runcorn Linnets’ win – are back on the road this Saturday when they visit play-off protagonists Prescot Cables.

Kick off is 3pm.