LEEK travelled into Merseyside for their latest pre-season friendly and earned a draw against a side that finished runners-up in the Evo-Stik NPL First Division North last season.
However, the result would have been very different had Blues taken their shooting boots with them.
Leading scorer Tim Grice went one-on-one with the home keeper three times but failed to find the net, while Dan Shelley (twice) and John Johnston both spurned excellent chances.
The home side may have shaded the possession but Leek created the better chances, although Ben Chapman got his body behind the ball on two occasions in the opening half and a similar number after the break.
Casswell named a useful side despite being without Andy Kinsey (unavailable), Matt Bell (recovering from surgery), Anthony Danylyk (holiday) and Jamie Pointon (on loan at CSOB).
Sam Hall returned to the side and Dan Smith won a seat on the bench after both returned from holiday.
In the 21st minute, Brannan outpaced Freddie Potter down the left flank to cross infield for Shelley but his volley was blocked inside the box.
Four minutes later, Blues cleared their lines with a ball over the top that Mike Grogan made a mess of leaving Grice to take on the keeper yet again – but this time, the Leek striker poked the ball wide of the upright.
Leek kept up the pressure and in the 29th minute the ball was played wide to Johnston, who turned infield and held off a defender before getting in a shot that was deflected wide for a corner.
Four minutes from the break, Brannan spotted Atherton off his line and tried his luck from the halfway line – but fortunately for the home keeper, the ball drifted wide of the upright.
Lairds kicked off the second half on the attack but when Foy crossed in for Foley, he skied his cross from outside the area.
A mistake by Foley in the 48th minute saw Grice win the ball – but his shot lacked power and direction.
Substitutions then came thick and fast but in the 55th minute, Foley was lucky to stay on the field when he kicked out at the grounded Brannan.
In the event, all he got was a lecture from the referee. However, a minute later, Lairds should have taken the lead when Andy Bratt unnecessarily played a high backpass to Chapman, who fielded the ball to concede an indirect free kick eight yards out. The resulting shot cleared the crossbar, though.
As Lairds pushed forward, Chapman was called on to make a double save in a crowded box but Blues caught them on the break, with Tom Urwin running at the home defence to set up Grice who once again lost out to the keeper.
Shelley then pushed forward to play the ball in for Grice, who spurned the chance, but Leroy Chaka came close with his first touch, clipping the crossbar with an angled shot.
In the 83rd minute Breen went on a good run down the right before firing in a great cross – but Chapman got just enough glove on it to force the ball wide.
Leek almost opened the scoring in the 87th minute when Chaka set up Shelley, who drove in a shot that Atherton saved brilliantly, going full-length to palm the ball wide.
Lairds finished the game with Craig Cairns firing wide whilst on the stroke of full time Jack McGowan blasted wide from 25 yards.
Cammell Laird: Atherton, Potter, Dysart, Grogan, Hullett, O’Brien, Couch, Foley, Foy, Breen, Woods.
Subs: Cairns, Parle, Robertson, Riley, McGowan.
Leek Town: Chapman, Donnelly, Connor, Dicker, Bratt, Hall, Johnston, Brough, Grice, Shelly, Brannan. Subs: Urwin, Smith, Chaka, Bradbury, Evans, Golden.
WHO’S UP NEXT?
Evostick League unless stated Sat 10: Stafford Rangers (Friendly) - h, 3pm.
Sat 17: Sheffield FC – h, 3pm Wed 21: Mickleover Sports – a, 7.45pm Sat 24: Coalville Town – a, 3pm Mon 26: Newcastle Town – h, 3pm.
Sat 31: Walsall Wood or Continental Star (FA Cup) – h, 3pm
July winners: £300 - John Reeves (No 84); £150 - Jeffrey Nixon (270); £50 - Stan Trafford (78) and Sheila Shirley (239); £25 - Tracy Reynolds (43); Carol Sheldon (289), Stephen Clark (16), Andy Hyde (123).