Nõmme Kalju potentially lost ground on leaders Flora, as they were held to a 0-0 draw at struggling Narva Trans.
Kalju had a few decent chances, but were unable to unlock the Narva defence consistently enough and were forced to settle for a point.
Narva made two changes from their 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Flora. Dmitri Shevyakov started at right back, with Andrejs Sinicins moving to centre back in place of Vitali Andreev. Viktor Plotnikov had to settle for a place on the bench, with Andrey Ornat coming in on the right wing, Svjatoslav Jakovlev on the left wing, Vladislav Fjodorov in the central attacking midfield role, and Ilya Osipov and Ignat Epifanov in defensive midfield. Artjom Skinjov continued as the lone striker.
The 2013 champions made a couple of changes from their 5-0 win over Kalev, with Felipe Nunes coming in for Jarmo Ahjupera up front, Karl Mool slotting in at right back in place of Henrik Purg, and Damiano Quintieri on the right wing, as Ken Kallaste continued his role on the left of midfield.
It was a cagey start to the match, with neither side showing too much attacking threat. The first opportunity came in the 9th minute, as Wakui’s ball from the right found Kallaste charging into the box on the left, but his shot from a tight angle could only find the side netting.
Kalju were pressing Narva at a high tempo, and found the ball returning to their possession more often than not. Quintieri struck a shot from outside the box in the 21st minute, but the keeper saved it with relative ease.
For all of their possession, Kalju were struggling to break Narva down. Kallaste was managing to find space charging down the left, but often found himself lacking support.
Kalju breathed a sigh of relief in the 26th minute, as Ornat’s neat ball over the defence found Skinjov, but the danger posed by his eventual blocked shot was further quashed by the linesman’s flag.
Osipov then unleashed a mean, swerving shot from outside the box that flew wide of the target, before Kallaste collected a lovely back-heel from Nunes on the left, before smashing a shot over the bar.
Nunes himself then tried his luck with a low shot from the edge of the box that Tokaitsuk was equal to, as Kalju slowly found more openings in the Narva backline. Quintieri was looking to cut in on to his right foot, and Nunes was finding Kallaste a useful ally on the left-hand side.
Kalju had a penalty appeal turned down in the 31st minute, as Andrejev was accused of bundling Quintieri over in the box, but the referee was having none of it and waved play on.
A burst of pace from Nunes sparked a little life into the match 12 minutes from the break, as he strode away from two defenders before smashing a shot on to the inside of the near post, with the rebound ruled out by the linesman.
Osipov and Rodrigues collected yellow cards as the half staggered to a close, before Wakui danced his way along the box, allowing Kallaste to try to put a cross in which was blocked, typifying Kalju’s first half frustrations.
The start of the second half saw Narva come out of their shell a little following a fairly defensively focused first period. On 49 minutes, Jakovlev turned away from Karl Mool, before unleashing a swerving shot that shaved the angle of the goal.
Kalju responded, as Kallaste’s far post volley from Quintieri’s cross was deflected over for a corner. Back at the other end, a goalmouth scramble almost saw Narva take the lead. A free kick from the right led to Epifanov seeing a shot blocked, and Osipov’s follow-up was deflected wide.
Seconds later, Narva had their own claim for a penalty turned down when Jakovlev’s shot was claimed to have struck the hand of Jorge Rodrigues. Once again the referee turned his nose up.
Kalju were starting to look a little shaky, and Narva were finding pockets of space on the break. A couple of pot shots from Jakovlev failed to trouble Teles, before a Nunes shot from a tight angle on the left for Kalju was saved by the keeper.
The visitors were struggling to really break Narva down, with the hosts defending astutely in the centre, forcing Kalju to sling crosses into the box from out wide to no avail.
Substitutions began on 62 minutes, as Martin Vunk came on for Ainsalu, before Galpin went off for Eino Puri minutes after being shown a yellow card.
Viktor Plotnikov then entered the fray for Narva, replacing Osipov, as the game remained finely balanced.
A great ball from Vunk through the defence on 75 minutes found Wakui on the edge of the box, but the Japanese could only sweep his shot at the goalkeeper. Kallaste was then picked out by Puri on the left of the box, with his cross being pushed into the path of Wakui, but his subsequent shot was blocked en route to the goal.
Wakui was again involved a minute later, failing to capitalise on a great knock down as his heavy touch took him into a brick wall once more.
Narva’s threat was still simmering in the background, as Jakovlev fired a wild shot high and wide following a good break by Ornat.
With five minutes to go, Quintieri left the field to be replaced by Robert Kirss, as Igor Prins took his last throw of the dice.
Narva continued to look threatening on the break, with Ornat finding himself in space in the middle, but it was the their final ball that insisted on letting them down.
A small game of handbags broke out in the middle of the park, with Felipe Nunes involved, but much as the game had done when it threatening to ignite, the action quickly died out.
Epifanov was then replaced by Vitaly Kutuzov after taking a knock, before another Kalju shout for handball followed Wakui’s shot that was claimed to have hit the hand of the recently-introduced Kutuzov. The referee deemed the Narva man to be innocent, and blew the whistle for full time shortly after.
It had been a spirited performance by Narva, who defended stoutly throughout. Their attacking threat only came out during the second half, but it was mostly as harmless as Kalju’s, as neither side really did enough to deserve all three points.
Kalju struggled to create openings through the centre, and poor deliveries in to an under-supported penalty area seemed their only outlet. Wakui had a few openings, but couldn’t make the most of them, as Kalju will look to Monday’s clash between Levadia and Flora to discover the true extent of the damage done.
As for Narva, a point was most welcome after recent results and performances. They are still in danger at the bottom of the table, but will take solace from the fact that both Tammeka and Kalev failed to pick up any points in their matches.