HEREFORD manager Josh Gowling praised the strength of his defensive line as they played out a 0-0 draw in their National League North opener at Southport.

The Bulls showed their resolve in the last 20 minutes of an even tie in which both sides had chances to take victory.

“It was pleasing defensively with our structure I thought we were solid and organised,” said Gowling.

“They put some pressure on us especially towards the end of the game which is going to happen when you’re playing away from home.

“I thought we were the stronger of the teams and if you look at us from this year to last year when we came here we’re a different animal now.

“We’ve recruited bottom up, to get our defence sorted and work our way up. With the experience of the lads we’ve brought in it’s not just the back four

“The biggest thing for us is the midfield, that they work hard and they’re tough, they’re resilient and they’re looking to pick up all the scraps off the centre-half.

“You have got to look at Jake (Wright) and (Jamie) Grimes tonight and they were solid. Southport pumped a lot of balls into the box towards the end of the game had a lot of corners and they stood strong.

“We’ve got to have a ‘Plan B’ and tonight we showed that we can mix it with physical teams. They were really physical with us last year and I don’t think we stood up to it.”

 Kyle Finn almost put the Bulls into an early lead but his long-range effort which almost dipped under the bar was tipped over by Daniel Hanford.

Hanford was then forced into two saves first tipping over a long-range Finn swerving strike and then denying Tom Owen-Evans from a tight angle.

However, moments later goalkeeper Paul White was caught in no-man's land as the ball got caught in the wind allowing Jack Sampson to head over him and off the bar.

A second half of few chances opened up for Finn on 68 minutes after he drove at the defence before firing inches wide.

At the opposite end Marcus Carver rifled an effort off the Bulls' bar after a clearance fell nicely for him.

Chris Camwell almost scored a goal to remember with his speculative effort outside the box falling the wrong side of the side-netting.

“I just think we broke down a little bit in that final third and it’s just that quality. It’s not even the personnel but just getting more comfortable, we had more time than we thought on the ball but it will come,” added Gowling.

“We spoke before the game about being adaptive to the players that you’ve got and in spells we did that by getting balls into Andre’s (Jones) feet.

“He’s great in the air and we wanted somebody in the middle there to cause them a problem so (Kyle) Finn and Tom (Owen-Evans) to roll in and pick up the second balls and for large parts of the game we did that so I was pleased.

“Finn needs to get more goals and I’ve told him that and you can see him now being more direct, instead of just trying to create he’s also trying to score goals.”