DEFIANT boss Frank Gray insists an elusive Bashley victory is not far away for his injury-hit squad following Tuesday’s stalemate with Southern League rivals Cambridge City.

Bash’s winless run spans more than two months with only three points and three goals chalked up in their past eight games in the Premier Division.

But after shuffling his pack and seeing his team restrict the fourth-placed Lilywhites to just one shot on target, the former Basingstoke boss praised his players.

Gray told the Daily Echo: “It was a strong performance against a strong side. We always knew it was going to be difficult.

“The lads were a bit tired in the second half but they didn’t cause us too many problems and it was good to get a point off a team that is right up there.

“We worked our socks off and certainly didn’t deserve to lose the game that’s for sure.”

Bash were without former Cherries defender Tim Stephenson, who rolled his ankle the day before the match, with loan duo Elliot Wheeler and Andy Jenkinson still on the sidelines.

Matters got worse for the hosts after 10 minutes when Ian Oliver was withdrawn with a hip injury. But despite City dominating possession, Bash arguably had the better openings in a hard-fought encounter of few chances.

Mark Gamble, also playing through the pain barrier, returned to a more familiar role up front and flashed a shot just wide of the far post after two minutes before drawing a fine low save from Lilywhites keeper Zac Barrett seven minutes from time.

Bash boss Gray added: “We had to defend very strongly. I thought Matt Finlay came into the side and did an excellent job seeing as he hadn’t played for a while, as did Tom Hill.

“We had to freshen up things and give ourselves a bit of a lift and the lads that came in had something to prove.

“The way they played gives us a selection problem now because they all did very well. We are delighted with the work rate and feel that we are not too far away from where we want to be.

“We do need to get three points on the board as quickly as possible but, if we keep putting the same effort in as we did against Cambridge, I am sure the win we all want is not far away.”

Bash: Moore, Strickland, Oliver (Knight, 10), Finlay, Middleton, Richardson, Casey, Colson, Stokoe, Gamble, Hill. Unused subs: Gradwell, Foster, Gazzard, Kearn (g/k).