MARK Collier saluted Chippenham Town’s battling qualities as his 10-man side fought gallantly for a National League South point at home to Wealdstone on Saturday.

The Bluebirds were forced to play three-quarters of the match a man short after midfielder James Guthrie was sent off for a tackle on the Stones’ Ryan Sellers just 24 minutes in.

But a defiant showing, plus a superb goalkeeping display from Jared Thompson, ensured the match ended goalless and earned the Bluebirds a precious home point.

“We started the game particularly well and both Matt Smith and Alex Ferguson had chances,’’ said Town boss Collier.

“Then we lost James Guthrie (to the red card) and everything changes. We had to reorganise and, although it was backs-to-the-wall stuff, we tried to play on the counter-attack as much as possible.

“It was an outstanding effort from the players considering we went so long with just 10 men.’’

Collier refused to be drawn on the merits or otherwise of Guthrie’s dismissal, adding: “It wasn’t something that I really saw. The problem is that Guths has given the referee an option and when you have 10 or 11 players surrounding the referee that can often end in either a red or yellow card.

“He will have to take his punishment.’’

Man-of-the-match Thompson made a superb save from a Matt Day shot that came through a crowd in the first half and then tipped a goal-bound effort from the same player over the bar in the second.

The visitors also hit the woodwork in the second period and Thompson made another fine stop on the hour mark.

Wealdstone were just above the Bluebirds in the table prior to kick-off and Collier believes his side’s successful battle for a point shouldn’t be sniffed at, coming as it did against long-standing National League operators.

“We were up against a very experienced National League team,’’ he added.

“I would imagine they have quite a substantial playing budget and at one stage, we had four players aged under 19 on the pitch so that shows you how well we did on the day."

Collier will shuffle the Bluebirds’ pack for Wednesday’s Wiltshire Senior Cup first round tie at Wiltshire League side Shrewton (7.45pm).