The woodwork came in the way a number of times as three-time champions Sheikh Jamal held one-time champions Sheikh Russel to a goalless draw in their Bangladesh Premier League fixture at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Hosts Sheikh Jamal were denied by the post once in the first half while Sheikh Russel were denied twice by the crossbar after the lemon break as the game of two halves failed to produce a winner, helping little in the title race for either side.
Sheikh Jamal had come into the match on the back of three consecutive victories following a dismal start as they had collected a single point from their first three matches. They played relatively better in the first half, creating two scoring chances. Argentine striker Luciano Araya Perez saw his left-footed diagonal shot from inside the box ricochet off the far post in the seventh minute.
The same striker had the best chance for his team in the 44th minute when he raced into the box on a through-ball from Solomon King, but his placed shot past Sheikh Russel goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana missed the target by a yard.
Sheikh Russel, who had the opportunity to take a solo lead in the table, having collected 13 points from their previous five matches, were more impressive after the break and manoeuvred the ball well inside the opposition half.
But they had the crossbar to blame for not picking up all three points -- second-half substitute Rafael da Silva's curling effort from inside the box bounced off the bar in the 64th minute before midfielder Khalekurzaman's excellent left-footed strike from 25 yards brushed the top of the bar seven minutes later.
However, Sheikh Jamal could have continued their winning run had Saniye Bojang's low effort from inside the box not been kept out brilliantly by goalkeeper Rana in the 80th minute. In the end, both teams had to settle for a point apiece, taking Sheikh Russel to 14 points from six matches and Sheikh Jamal to 11 points from seven matches.
“I'm happy with the performance. We missed chances, but that's not important. The important thing is we are picking points,” Sheikh Jamal coach Joseph Afusi said after the match.
“It was our home game and we could have won, but the important thing is that we now have gone five matches unbeaten after defeats in the first two matches,” added Afusi.
Sheikh Russel coach Saiful Bari Titu, however, was rather fretful for not picking up the full points and losing precious ground in title race.
“We should have won this game, but as long as you don't score you can't win,” Titu reflected.
“We have drawn two matches and gone a little behind in the title race. But we cannot be disheartened and need to fight till the end,” Titu said.