Northcote City picked up its first point of the season with a 0-0 stalemate against Pascoe Vale at John Cain Memorial Park on Saturday.
After a tight opening 20 minutes with neither side able to find joy in the attacking third, the match burst into life when Todd Dekker’s pace got him through on goal before being chopped down inside the box by Cameron Tew.
It seemed that the young attacker was fouled but the referee waved away strong shouts for a penalty from the home players and fans alike.
It was again Dekker causing problems for Paco when he won City a free kick in a dangerous position, which Anthony Rizk put narrowly over the bar with a curling left-foot effort.
Five minutes before half time the visitors came as close as either side would to scoring with Davey Van’t Schip’s low strike thudding the upright and luckily for the team in blue bouncing away from the goal.
Dekker had the home faithful on their feet 20 minutes into the second half with a lovely bit of skill to work space for a shot, but fired his finish into the side netting.
Paco had another golden opportunity seven minutes from time as Luca Santilli couldn’t direct a wicked cross from the right on target as he met the ball with pace on the half-volley.
There was to be late drama in stoppage time following a menacing Jonathan Bounas free kick whipped towards the back post. At first there appeared to be a handball as a Paco defender attempted to clear, before it fell to Michael Cunningham whose deflected shot fell into the path of Dekker.
It looked as if the youngster might score a winner before he was obstructed by a desperate lunging tackle from behind just before pulling the trigger.
The referee turned down both penalty claims to the dismay of the home support and defender Michalis Karvouniaris was sent off for his protests in the aftermath.
Despite not being able to grab the win, it was a solid performance to build on from City who jump two spots off the foot of the table.