Manly United and Hakoah Sydney City East played out a tight 0-0 draw at Cromer Park on Saturday night.
In a match which seemed destined for stalemate, clear cut chances were far and few between.
The hosts will feel hard done by after maintaining the majority of second half possession, but often failing with their final pass.
However if it were not for a couple of outstanding stops from Shaun Catlin, it may well have been Hakoah who travelled home with all three points minus its Kiwi international in Andre De Jong who is currently away on national team duty with the All Whites.
Now sitting narrowly outside of the all-important top five, both teams will be looking to recapture their form in front of goal and return to the winner’s circle next week.
It was Brendan Cholakian who registered the first chance of the night after 11 minutes.
Manly’s number 10 stung the palms of Anthony Bouzanis from close range, before gathering the rebound and forcing one narrowly over the crossbar.
Last week’s hero Shaun Catlin was then back at his best to deny Dominic Cox’s strike on 33 minutes, tipping away a shot that seemed destined for the top right corner.
Hakoah then nearly found the opener off the ensuing set piece, but Oliver Green pushed his effort past the wrong side of the post.
The second half commenced in a similar manner to the first, with a tight midfield scrap.
Paul Dee introduced Scott Balderson, Dylan Macallister and Gianni Stensness around the hour mark in an attempt to sway the contest towards the Champions.
The former was immediately involved, creating some half chances through dangerous-looking deliveries into the danger area before a shot on 71 minutes that resulted in a regulation save from Bouzanis.
However as Manly increasingly forced the initiative, the visitors began to seek pockets of space to exploit on the counter-attack.
As a result, the 77th minute saw the Harry Jones come closer than anyone to breaking the stalemate.
He released a venomous strike, which Catlin’s outstretched palm managed to tap onto the crossbar and to safety.
Then as Manly mounted one final push, the visitors resolutely hung on for the point.
Brendan Cholakian’s acrobatic effort following a goal line scramble in the 83rd minute fell agonisingly wide.
A side-netting volley from an outstretched Scott Balderson, and a speculative long range hit from Dominic Ferguson was all the hosts could muster in stoppage time.
In the end, it was a night to forget from a spectator’s point of view, while both managers presented vastly conflicting perspectives on the result.
Paul Dee was left frustrated by the outcome.
“It’s a very disappointing result,” he said.
“I have to be pleased with the style of play, the momentum we had and the amount of chances we created.
“(But) I thought in the second half there was only one team that had all the momentum but if you don’t score goals you don’t win.
“That’s the story of it.”
Gavin Rae was far more content with the point.
“(It was) probably the right result,” he claimed.
“It was an even game, a bit scrappy at times.
“I think both teams could have won it, but I think overall it was a fair result.
“Backing up after Wednesday in the FFA Cup, we’ll take two wins and a draw in a week.”
Manly United FC 0
Hakoah Sydney City East 0
Saturday June 2, 2018
Cromer Park, Dee Why
Referee: Katie Patterson
Assistant Referees: Matthew Southern, Josh Nixon
Fourth Official: Adrien Brett
Manly United FC: 20. Shaun Catlin, 2. Kieren Paull , 3. Jamie Lobb, 4. Travis Oughtred, 6. Dominic Ferguson, 7. Braden Cheng (13. Scott Balderson 57’), 8. Sasa Macura (17. Gianni Stensness 68’), 10. Brendan Cholakian, 11. Nicola Taneski (9. Dylan Macallister 68’), 21. Joseph Fox, 23. Daniel Alessi
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Dylan Mitchell, 12. Leigh Egger
Yellow Cards: Macura 62’
Red Cards: Nil
Hakoah Sydney City East: 1.. Anthony Bouzanis, 3. Michael Kouta , 5. Mitchell Stamatellis, 6. Cameron Draper, 8. Oliver Green, 13. Robert Ezekiel, 14. Anthony Frangie (7. Jack Green 66’), 17. Harry Jones, 19. Dominic Cox (11. Jordan Crighton), 21. Amaury Gauthier 60. Takayuki Noji
Substitutes Not Used: 20. James Combes, 30. Connor Eldridge, 40. Michael Figueira
Yellow Cards: Ezekiel 85’
Red Cards: Nil
– By National Premier Leagues NSW Reporter Chris Curulli