Former champions Sheikh Jamal Dhandmondi Club missed an opportunity to catch league leaders Chittagong Abahani after being held to a goalless draw by newcomers Saif Sporting Club in their Bangladesh Premier League encounter at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Three-time champions Sheikh Jamal came into the match on the back of three straight victories and would have joined the early pace setters on top of the table with 22 points, but Saif Sporting Club, who themselves have emerged as one of the title-contenders, did well to hold them to a draw.
The draw left the Dhanmondi giants two points off the pace while Saif Sporting Club overtook defending champions Abahani in third position on 17 points, thanks to a favourable goal difference.
While on paper it was the battle between two of the most potent sides in the league, the exhibition on the pitch hardly matched that billing. Chances were few and far between, and the lack of penetrative moves or use of skills turned it into a rather drab affair.
The only notable move of the first half came right after the half-hour mark when Saif Sporting's Colombian forward Valencia Olaya forced a spectacular fingertip save from Sheikh Jamal goalkeeper Mitul Hossain with a powerful shot from the top of the box. Mitul's parry brushed the crossbar before going out for a corner.
Sheikh Jamal too, were denied by the woodwork as Nurul Absar's diving header following a corner in the 50th minute hit the post.
With three minutes left till the final whistle, Sheikh Jamal were reduced to ten men after right-back Khan Mohammad Tara stabbed his boots on the back of Valencia, but the former champions managed to run the clock down despite the numerical disadvantage.
Meanwhile, Arambagh Krira Sangha notched their second victory of the league to move off the bottom of the table with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over beleaguered Farashganj Sporting Club in the first match of the day.
The Arambagh outfit conceded the lead on the hour-mark when Farashganj's Nigerian forward Chindu Mathew volleyed home Mohammad Shamim's cross from just inside the box.
But Maruful Haque's charges hit back 14 minutes later, thanks to a towering header from young Mohammad Jewel before Alamu Bukola snatched the winner from a counter attack after the Farashganj defenders and goalkeeper failed to clear a long-ball from the Arambagh midfield.
The win took Arambagh to eighth position on the table, with seven points while Farashganj remained rooted to the bottom with four points from eight games.