Courts Young Lions ended a two-game losing run in the S.League on Monday after holding Geylang International to a 0-0 draw at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
In a keenly-contested clash between two sides looking to climb into the top half of the table, it was the Eagles who enjoyed the better of the proceedings in the opening 45.
Aliff Shafaein had their first real chance in the 17th minute when he pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the box and unleashed a blistering drive that Rudy Khairullah did well to push over, before the Young Lions keeper did well again four minutes after the half-hour mark to keep out a low drive from Leonel Felice.
Rudy was called into action once more a minute later when he did well to race off his line and put enough pressure on Kento Fukuda, who had looked poised to meet Yuki Ichikawa’s excellent cross with a goal-bound header at the back post.
Aliff then came close again in the 42nd minute when he lined up a freekick on the edge of the box after Felice had been hauled down, only to curl a lovely effort just wide of the top corner.
Although Geylang custodian Siddiq Durimi had been having a relatively comfortable outing up till that point, he had to be alert a minute before halftime to deny Jordan Webb, who had ran onto Sherif El-Masri’s incisive pass and steered a shot past Fukuda’s despairing lunge.
Webb had another opening ten minutes into the second half when he raced onto Sahil Suhaimi’s through-ball and skipped past the onrushing Siddiq but the opposition defence to force him wide, and the chance eventually went begging as Ammirul Emmran fired wide.
Rudy, who was given the nod by Aide Iskandar ahead of Syazwan Buhari, continued to repay his coach’s faith in him; producing a stunning save in the 62nd minute after Fukuda had met Khairulnizam Jumahat’s lovely cross with a firm header towards goal.
While it was Geylang who looked the likelier of the two sides to break the deadlock, Young Lions had a terrific chance seven minutes from time when Shameer Aziq burst down the right and squared the ball to the unmarked Sahil, only for Siddiq to produce a stunning point-blank range save to deny the Singapore international.
And in the final minute, the Eagles had one final opportunity to grab all three points when Felice forced his way down the left and played the ball across the face of goal but just as Hafiz Nor raced in to meet it at the back post, El-Masri made a fantastic recovering challenge to halt the threat and earn his side a share of the spoils.
Courts Young Lions: Rudy Khairullah, Faris Azienuddin (Shameer Aziq 79’), Delwinder Singh, Amirul Adli, Fadli Kamis, Ammirul Emmran, Nur Na’iim Ishak, Sherif El-Masri, Stanely Ng (Amy Recha 74’), Jordan Webb, Sahil Suhaimi.
Geylang International: Siddiq Durimi, Khairulnizam Jumahat, Kento Fukuda, Yuki Ichikawa, Hamqaamal Shah (Jalal 58’), Fabian Kwok, Joaquin Lopez, Ridhuan Muhammad (Fuad Ramli 77’), Aliff Shafaein (Hafiz Nor 65’), Mustaqim Manzur, Leonel Felice.