Petersfield Town and Moneyfields shared the spoils as their Wessex League premier division top-of-the-table clash ended in a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Love Lane last night.
Both sides had chances to win an evenly-contested game but the stalemate ensured visitors Moneys remained at the summit, as Petersfield dropped down to third place following Newport’s 4-1 victory over Bournemouth.
Town boss Ian Saunders said: ‘I was quoted in The News earlier in the week as saying that Moneyfields are the best side in our league – and I’m not changing my opinion after last night either.
‘I’m really pleased with my lads that we competed with them.
‘It was a game of half-chances and ifs and buts for both sides.
‘We had a great chance to score in the last minute, though, but no particular winner on the night has made both camps as happy as they could be.’
Moneys manager Miles Rutherford said: ‘In my view it was a very poor game of football.
‘It was like a derby game but with no real entertainment.
‘Some of the players didn’t turn up for us in the first half, but to be fair they did pick up in the second half.
‘The best thing about last night, though, was that we didn’t lose.’
The opening moments of a well-attended contest proved fairly scrappy, with neither side able to settle into their normal rhythm.
But by the time the referee had sounded his whistle on a goalless first half, both sides had chances to take the lead – only to be denied by a combination of striking profligacy, impressive goalkeeping and the woodwork.
Moneys went close on 17 minutes when Jake Morgan curled a free-kick over the wall from 25 yards out, only for Town keeper Matt Shortt to leap to his right and push the ball onto the crossbar and behind for a corner.
From the resulting flag-kick, visiting striker Alfie Rutherford somehow spooned the ball over from four yards with an open goal at his mercy.
It was hosts Petersfield who had the better chances as an even first period came towards a close, though.
On 38 minutes Jake Slater combined with Warren Hunt in midfield to find Danny Thompson unmarked on the left-hand side of the penalty area, but his curled shot into the opposite corner was superbly denied by Moneys stopper Cameron Scott.
And in the final minute of the half, the Rams were a whisker away from breaking the deadlock from a corner.
Defender Jamie Ford was left all on his own inside the six-yard box but watched on in dismay as his powerful header cannoned against the top of the crossbar and away to safety.
Moneys almost took the lead in the opening minute of the second half when Steve Hutchings stole the ball on the halfway line and drove forward into the penalty area.
But Sean Wain tracked his run and was able to dispossess the striker as he shaped to shoot.
On 64 minutes the visitors had another chance to take the lead when a cross from the left was flicked into the path of Rutherford at the far post – but his effort was always rising high and wide of the target.
In a testing spell, Rams keeper Shortt had to be at his best to prevent two other chances – first leaping to his right to keep out a deflected shot and then spreading himself in front of substitute Jake Raine.
However, as in the first half, hosts Petersfield finished the stronger of the two sides and nearly claimed all three points at the death.
A corner from the right found Andy Todd completely unmarked in front of goal but his glanced header flashed across the face of the target.