Whitchurch Alport managed to keep that long-awaited clean sheet against Padiham on Saturday.

But a combination of poor finishing, great defending and the woodwork being struck three times meant it was only a point taken and not the three deserved.

Player-manager Luke Goddard had to sit out the match as he was serving the first of a three-game ban, but the Reds boss was happy with the way his side had gone about their business during the goalless draw.

“You have to say that that’s two points dropped and not one gained,” he said. “Right from the off, we went at them and the tempo was good. After the Squires Gate match we had an honest discussion with the group and questioned their mentality.

“It wasn’t about ability as this is the best squad that I’ve had to work with in eight years as a manager. Since then, we’ve won at Silsden, gone close against Bootle – despite what the scoreline might suggest – and dominated this game yet only come out of it with a point. I thrive on clean sheets so that’s the biggest positive to take out of today’s game because it’s a while since we’ve kept one.

“Even though we finished the game strongly, the second half was more of an even contest where you felt that Padiham might nick one and end up with all three points.

“But in the first half, we completely dominated the game and once again missed some golden chances to nudge in front and make it a difficult afternoon for them. We should have been at least two or three goals clear but we’ve let them off the hook and given them something to cling onto.

“Time and again we put quality crosses in – particularly from the left-hand side – but we don’t seem to have that fox in the box who has the gift of knowing where and when to be in the right place.

“We are no different to any other side in the league – we are all looking for that 20 goals a season striker, but they’re hard to come by. Jordan Cole has left the club and watching from the sidelines I got the impression that he might have been the difference today. That’s unfortunate for us, especially with Simon [Everall] still two weeks away and young Luke Walley perhaps even longer than that.”

Alport now have a double-header against Northwich Victoria and 1874 Northwich back-to-back, and Goddard is expecting two tough encounters.

He added: “Hopefully, our fans will once again travel in their numbers and make some noise like they usually do. Again on Saturday it wasn’t quite the intimidating arena I wanted it to be and I can’t stress enough how much of a lift the players get from hearing our fans in full voice.

“I accept that the performance usually dictates what the atmosphere is likely to be, and sometimes opposition teams can get the lift by playing at a nice ground with a big crowd.

“We have to be prepared for that. I don’t think we are in any danger of getting sucked into a relegation battle but it’s a highly competitive league and is unforgiving if you make any mistakes.” Northwich play at Witton Albion and 74 at Winsford United.