Garena Young Lions notched their first point of the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League season after holding 2015 champions Brunei DPMM to a goalless draw at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.
It was an end-to-end game with chances aplenty, but the two teams were ultimately let down by their profligacy in front of goal as they shared the spoils in an exciting affair.
The hosts started the match brightly and could have opened the scoring after seven minutes, but Muhaimin Suhaimi nodded narrowly wide off a Ryan Syaffiq cross.
Meanwhile, the Young Lions defence hardly allowed the DPMM attackers a sniff at goal and was marshalled well by the trio of captain Shahrin Saberin, Illyas Lee and Faizal Roslan. The latter two were making their first starts of the season.
Young Lions goalkeeper Hairul Syirhan was called into action for the first time on 18 minutes as he made an unorthodox save with his legs to keep out Hendra Azam’s fierce shot.
Muhaimin then controlled Rusyaidi Salime’s cross with his chest but fired tamely at DPMM custodian Wardun Yussof from six yards out.
After cutting in from the left, Syaffiq’s effort whistled narrowly over the bar just after the half-hour mark before Rosmin Kamis’ cross was nearly deflected into goal by the head of Azwan in the 33rd minute.
V. Selvaraj’s charges should have gone ahead six minutes after the restart when Wardun flapped at Rusyaidi’s right-wing cross. The ball fell kindly to left-back Syahrul Sazali, but he blasted over from close range.
Lee came to the rescue of the Young Lions in the 58th minute, as the defender raced back in time to clear off the line with a header after Azwan’s chip had beaten an onrushing Hairul.
Azwan came close again in the 66th minute when he powered a shot at goal which came off the bar after it took a deflection off Hairul’s fingertips.
A glut of goalscoring chances followed thereafter, but none were able to find a way into the back of either net.
Young Lions substitute Haiqal Pashia capitalised on a defensive error but dragged his shot wide in the 84th minute, before an unmarked Azwan skied his effort at the far post off a corner two minutes later.
With just seconds remaining, Taufik Suparno could have become the hero for the Young Lions but the forward fired wide with only the keeper to beat.
The result made no difference to the league standings, as the Wasps remain in eighth with four points while the Young Lions are one spot below.
Garena Young Lions Assistant Coach Robbie Servais was pleased with the result: “We are happy with our first point of the season today; it was a deserved one although I admit it felt like three to us.
“We were well-prepared and didn’t let the results prior to this game bring down the morale of the players. We were fired up knowing that we stood a chance as we had studied the opponents well.
“We tried to play possession-based football, which is starting to become the style that the Young Lions play. We managed to dominate more and ran less than the opponent, which helped us at the end of the game.”
Garena Young Lions: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Shahrin Saberin (C), Ryan Syaffiq (Haiqal Pashia 83’), Syahrul Sazali (Dhukhilan Jeevamani 74’), Hami Syahin, Faizal Roslan, Ikhsan Fandi (Taufik Suparno 69’), Muhaimin Suhaimi, Rusyaidi Salime, Illyas Lee, Muhelmy Suhaimi