Manchester United's patched-up Under-21 side picked up a hard-earned 0-0 draw against Chelsea at Leigh Sports Village.
The teams remain level on points towards the top slots in a congested table with Ben Amos probably the Reds' Man of the Match after keeping the visitors at bay with some fine saves.
Tom Thorpe and James Wilson were both out with illness and Ben Pearson was missing through injury so the influential trio were clearly missed. Wilson's absence left the team without an out-and-out forward with Andreas Pereira pushed up front.
The Blues dominated the opening exchanges and should have been ahead before the break. Alex Kiwomya's cross-cum-shot was tipped over athletically by Amos after only seven minutes and Izzy Brown blasted over when left unmarked from the resulting corner.
Amos kept out a deflected Brown shot, Kiwomya miskicked following a Nathan Ake cross and Brown again shot powerfully but with too much elevation after the jet-heeled Kiwomya outstripped Louis Rowley. Ake was left clean through when the ball came off Reece James moments before the interval but Amos was out to block and Charni Ekangamene cleared from close to the goalline.
Chelsea introduced £8million summer signing Marco van Ginkel for his first appearance since suffering knee ligament damage while Reds skipper Davide Petrucci was withdrawn on 49 minutes, allowing Josh Harrop to make his debut at this level.
The impressive Ake was flagged offside to deny Amos the credit for another splendid save and the home keeper, an over-aged selection, showed his quality again to keep out Lewis Baker. Paddy McNair was hurt when colliding with Ekangamene when the latter blocked a Kiwomya drive so Matty Willock became the 41st player used by Warren Joyce this term.
From the next attack, van Ginkel tried to find the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the box but Amos threw himself to his right to pull off another fabulous stop. United worked extremely hard and contained the Londoners for the remainder of the match, despite failing to register a noteworthy shot all evening, largely due to the aforementioned lack of a striker.