An early second-half strike from Declan Howe was the difference as Gainsborough Trinity defeated Atherton Colls 1-0 in NPL Premier Division on Saturday.

In a nondescript first 15 minutes, neither team could fashion a real clear-cut chance to break the deadlock, although the hosts dominated possession.

The first chance for either team fell for Colls, a Luke Thompson cross found captain Lewis Mansell who laid the ball back to prolific forward Enock Lusiama to pull his effort wide.

This chance galvanised Trinity who had the best chance of the half when forward Dayle Southwell struck the post after a free-kick was floated in from the left.

The final chance of an otherwise uneventful first half fell to Jordan Scanlon.- A speculative ball forward was corralled by Mansell, whose hold-up play allowed the midfielder to collect the ball and strike low, forcing a great save from Dylan Wharton.

Little over five minutes into the second half the deadlock was broken as Howe was caught by Colls debutant Tom Donaghy, resulting in a penalty for Trinity.

Donaghy denied Howe from the spot only for the rebound to find Trinity’s top goalscorer to give them the lead.

The game lulled after Howe’s opener until 10 minutes before the end as Atherton Collieries defender Mo Ali delivered an inch-perfect ball to captain Mansell, who was well denied by Wharton - imperious in the Trinity goal - as the visitors held on for the win.

Colls return to action tonight when they visit runaway leaders Radcliffe, before a trip to Bamber Bridge on Saturday.