CHIPPENHAM Town kicked off their National League South campaign with a hard-fought 0-0 draw away at St Albans on Saturday.

The Bluebirds travelled to Hertfordshire looking to get their season off to a winning start, but after seeing a first-half effort ruled out for offside and a lack of clear-cut chances come their way in the second, Mark Collier’s men travelled back to Wiltshire with just a clean sheet to their name.

Several new signings started the game – including Luke Hopper and David Pratt – and Collier was impressed with how quickly his team jelled, even if they weren’t able to find the elusive goal that the Chippenham boss felt they deserved.

Reflecting on his side’s season opener, Collier stated he was ‘disappointed’ his side did not come away victorious.

“I would have certainly taken that result at five to three, especially going to somewhere like St Albans where they have good attacking players,” he said.

“We set up to get behind the ball and play on the counter. We had a good amount of possession and we were a bit disappointed we didn’t come in at half-time in the lead really.

“We had a goal disallowed and another couple of good chances as well.

“The second half was quite an even contest, and it was a very workmanlike away performance against a decent side.

“We’re disappointed we haven’t won the game, of course, but we’re pleased to get a point on the board and it’s still early days.”

Swindon Town loanee Luke Haines was given his Chippenham debut too and, despite being booked less than half an hour in, Collier felt his young holding midfielder showed a maturity that belied his years.

The teenager was voted as the Bluebirds’ man of the match by their travelling supporters and the Chippenham manager concurred with the feelings of his fanbase, praising Haines’ desire to push through the pain barrier for his teammates.

Collier said: “He’s very competitive in midfield, he’s strong in the air and we know he can make tackles.

“We started him in the holding role in midfield. He hasn’t played 90 minutes for a long time, so he was blowing a little bit late on.

“We thought about taking him off, but he managed to get through the game and his competitive nature is a key component in that part of the pitch.

“It was a decent debut for him, and he’s set the bar for the standard of performance we expect from him.”