Geylang International's poor start to their 2015 S.League season continued as they were held to a goalless draw by Hougang United at the Bedok Stadium on Thursday night.
Jorge Steinebrunner's side have two draws and a defeat from their three matches following Thursday's result. Salim Moin's team too have not recorded a win this season having drawn all three games.
The Eagles started the game well with captain Jozef Kaplan's close-range effort rebounding off the post inside the first two minutes. However that proved to be the only meaningful chance for the hosts in the first half.
Hougang hotshot Francisco Salvador Ela "Chupe" fired over a couple of minutes later, while Nurhilmi Jasni and Fairoz Hasan similarly could not keep their shots down. Nurhilmi fired in a long-range shot at the half hour mark which was easily dealt with by Geylang goalkeeper Yazid Yasin. Winger Matthew Abraham blasted in four minutes from half-time and the ball flew over the crossbar but was perilously close to sneaking in.
Hougang -- who had dominated the first period -- carried on from where they left off. Six minutes after the restart, Fairoz fired over once again from long range. They were however lucky not to go down to ten men thereafter with debutant Renshi Yamaguchi escaping with just a yellow card for a late challenge on Kento Fukuda.
Both sides went in for substitutions in the 72nd minute, with Geylang bringing on Shah Hirul for Hafiz Nor while Hougang sent in Muhaymin Salim for Abraham.
The Eagles surged forward and dominated the last 15 minutes. Kaplan glanced his header from Yuki Ichikawa's cross just wide, before seeing his close-range shot denied superbly by Hougang keeper Ridhuan Barudin. Centre-back Hafiz Osman then reacted instinctively to turn home a rebound but the assistant referee's off-side flag was up.
The visitors tried to break on the counter and had a genuine penalty claim when Chupe seemed to be tugged back by Geylang left-back Syed Thaha inside the box. But referee W Ravisanthiran turned down the resulting appeals for a penalty. Eventually both sides had to settle for the draw which was arguably a fair reflection of the proceedings.
In his post-match news conference, Steinebrunner cut a visibly disappointed figure as he believed his side should have emerged victors. "If you look at how many shots and how much ball possession we had, we should have won the game," he said. "We were the more active team even in the second half and Hougang did not have any chance that we could say was close. At the end of the day, it was two points dropped."
Moin, however, felt his side should have been awarded a penalty when Chupe went down towards the closing stages. "That was a very crucial moment and I think my striker was pulled because he had already outrun the defender," said Moin. "So if that decision was very sharp, then we deserved the win more than Geylang. My players did very well and it's a matter of time before we get our first win."
Geylang International Starting Lineup: Yazid Yasin (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Hafiz Osman, Kento Fukuda, Syed Thaha, Anaz Hadee, Mustaqim Manzur (Shawal Anuar 83'), Hafiz Nor (Shah Hirul 71'), Tatsuro Inui, Jozef Kaplan (C), Bruno Castanheira.
Hougang United Starting Lineup: Ridhuan Bahrudin (GK), Faizal Amir, Yuki Uchiyama, Kunihiro Yamashita, Faiz Salleh, Fairoz Hasan, Renshi Yamaguchi, Shunsuke Nakatake, Nurhilmi Jasni (C), Matthew Abraham (Muhaymin Salim 71'), Francisco Salvador Ela.