Kolkata: Table toppers East Bengal were held to a goalless draw by a spirited Chirag United in a ninth round I-League clash at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Friday.
Chirag United could easily have taken a first-half lead but their Brazilian striker Joshimar D Silva missed a penalty.
East Bengal sorely missed the services of their leading goal scorer Tolgay Ozbey, who had to sit out of the match having picked a double yellow card in the last encounter.
In absence of the Australian striker, who is second on the list of leading goalscorers with seven to his pocket, Biswarup Deb found it tough to adjust to the big stage as he partnered Robin Singh up front, in a new-look East Bengal attack.
True to their style, East Bengal, cheered on by a vociferous crowd support, began aggressively but the sting was missing up front as they missed as many as three sitters inside the first-half.
Chirag United were equally sloppy with their star striker Joshimar D`Silva missing a penalty in the 34th minute in what was the highlight of the goalless first 45 minutes.
Deb found his first chance in the ninth minute after he capitalised on a Sanju Pradhan cross from the right flank with Chirag defence not in place. But the George Telegraph recruit faltered in the end, while a minute later Singh too missed an easy sitter as they failed to give East Bengal a
Their best chance in the first period came in the 13th minute when Pradhan again set it up for Deb with a low cross but the outcome was no different as East Bengal struggled to break the goal jinx. As a matter of fact, East Bengal, who are the most successful team this season with two titles (Federation Cup and Calcutta League) to their kitty, are yet to win against their city rivals Chirag United.
Chirag United had beaten East Bengal en route to the Durand Cup title while in the Calcutta League Premier Division the local giants were held.
In fact, Chirag could easily have taken a 35th minute lead after Joshimar was brought down inside the box by Mehtab Hussain. But their star Brazilian forward`s spot kick was awfully out of place.
Deb was replaced with midfielder Harmonjot Singh Khabra as Morgan employed a different strategy bringing Orji Penn upfront along with Robin Singh but still the duo struggled to find the goal.
Chirag had a fine chance in the 72nd minute but Branco Cardozo continued with his unimpressive run to make a mess of a Gouranga Biswas low centre.
Cardozo was soon replaced by Mohammad Rafique but there was no change to their fortunes.
East Bengal brought in Budiram Tudu in place of Pradhan but the goalless stalemate remained as they yet again failed to breach the Chirag wall.
Having dropped points, East Bengal are now on 23 points from nine matches while Chirag United have 14 from as many matches.