New Cape Town City coach Jan Olde Riekerink is still looking for his first win after they were held to a goalless draw by Highlands Park on Saturday. Photo: Travis Arendse

CAPE TOWN – Jan Olde Riekerink's wait for a first win as the new head coach of Cape Town City continues after his charges were held to a goalless draw by Highlands Park in their PSL clash at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

The Dutch tactician’s two games in charge have delivered two draws and he has his work cut out for him to turn around a season that has produced only two wins from 13 games, which sees the Citizens languishing in 10th place on the log standings on 13 points. Park move up a place to sixth on 17 points.

City attacked from the first minute with striker Kermit Erasmus, who missed the last game with a hamstring strain, using pace and movement to round a defender and get into the penalty area and then supply a cross that found Riyaad Norodien, but the winger was kept out by goalkeeper Marlon Heugh who gloved the ball behind for a corner.

Erasmus then sent in a defence-splitting pass that midfielder Thabo Nodada wasn’t able to connect with on the charge. Park were under the cosh for the first 15 minutes and hardly looked like making into the other half and survived another shot at their goal fired over the crossbar by captain Thami Mkhize.

City then suffered a blow in the 17th minute when Erasmus, who has scored seven goals in 12 league games, cried off injured again.

His place at the top of coach Jan Olde Riekerink’s formation was taken by former South Africa youth international Fakrie Lakay, still the youngest player to have worn the Bafana Bafana jersey (17 years, 11 months and 25 days). He joined up with another youngster in the form of 21-year-old Shane Roberts, who scored his first goal of the campaign against Orlando Pirates, and the pair were tasked with taking the fight to the Lions of the North, with Norodien and Bradley Ralani on the flanks playing support roles.

But Park after Erasmus’ departure started to make inroads and enjoyed the majority of the possession and territory, their target man being forward Peter Shalulile - the league’s leading goal scorer with eight goals. They created a couple of opportunities for a defence that has leaked 20 goals, the most goals in the competition, but no shots at goalkeeper Sage Stevens from Namibian international Shalulile or his fellow attackers.

City then earned a free-kick on the half-hour mark from the left-side and five metres outside the penalty taken by Norodien, but his grass-cutter was directed straight into the gloves of Heugh. Thato Mokeke in the heart of the midfield - like Nodada returning from suspension – had his hands on the back of Park’s net in frustration after a golden chance to break the deadlock was squandered, and then moments looped a header at Heugh from an incoming corner kick.

City on the stroke of half-time nearly scored through Lakay who powered in a shot that was well-saved low to his left side by Heugh’s, easily his side’s best player.

Riekerink turned to his bench for more thrust upfront and introduced striker Siphelele Mthembu in place of Norodien. But it was Park who launched the first attack and it required a double save from Sage, the last from close range to foil the men from Johannesburg, who were chasing a first win in five outings after following up two losses with two draws.

City seemed to lose a bit of grip on proceedings and for a side with only two wins to date from 12 starts that was the last things the coach would have wanted to see. It was their rivals who looked more likely to land the opener and could have had they played with a little bit more patience in the final third.     

Lakay ‘s efforts for the hosts amounted to nought as he battled to control the ball being shut down quickly by the defence, much to the frustration of the City faithful who on three occasions felt he was about to pull the trigger in the score zone. The day he gets his confidence back will spell bad news for opposing forces.

Both sides went for the kill in the closing stages but in the end had to settle for a share of the spoils.

IOL Sport