JOINT-boss Nick Stocker admitted Tenbury United’s Herefordshire League title hopes have all but evaporated after a 0-0 draw with Hinton.
The stalemate at Palmer’s Meadow maintained the eight-point gap between third-placed United, who have a game in hand, and their table-topping opponents.
It was a match of very few clear-cut chances but the best of a tight first half fell to John Bradley who should have put the home side ahead when he blasted over from six yards five minutes before the break.
The second half started with United on the front foot and striker Dale Withers was unlucky not to open the scoring when his header was well saved.
Ryan Morris went close when played through on goal by Gavin Podmore and with Tenbury running out of time, they pushed bodies forward and introduced Chris Patton up front.
As the game became stretched, gaps emerged at both ends and home keeper Luke Gill was the hero with a pair of full-stretch saves.
Tenbury enjoyed one last flurry during the final 15 minutes but Hinton took the sting and pace out of the game to ensure they remain in charge of their own destiny, a status Stocker expects them to fully exploit.
“We went into this game knowing that nothing but a win would do if we wanted to keep up our hopes of challenging,” said Stocker.
“It was a frustrating but competitive 0-0 draw.
"Both sides knew the importance of the result and it affected both teams with neither wanting to commit too many players forward too early on.
“We kept plugging away, committed more and more bodies going forward throughout the game and were a match for Hinton.
“That said, they were very solid and it was a good, even battle.
“Our lads did fantastically well on the day and couldn’t have tried any harder than they did.
“We were missing three keys players, like Dan Gittens, Mike Foster and Aaron Morris, but the lads who came in were excellent.
“Tom Farr at left-back was exceptional, he was probably the best player on the pitch.
“We couldn’t ask for anything else from the lads on the day, we just didn’t have enough.
“We’ve played Hinton twice now and I have to say, I don’t think there is too much between us so, if they do go on and win the league we must take that as a positive.
“We can’t let our heads go down, although we know it is very unlikely that Hinton will drop six points.
“We have a cup final to look forward to and we have to make sure we are bang on form.”
United’s league dreams surely rest on a return to winning ways when they welcome third-from-bottom Leominster Town this Saturday, kick-off 2.30pm.