Hapoel Tel Aviv may have done just enough to climb back to the top of the Premier League standings on Sunday night, but there were few celebrations at Bloomfield Stadium after the Reds could only manage a 0-0 draw against Hapoel Acre.
Tel Aviv will remain in first place for at least 24 hours and possibly for even longer should Maccabi Tel Aviv lose against Betar Jerusalem at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Monday night.
However, the Reds were extremely confident of making it five wins in a row against the struggling Acre and coach Yossi Abuksis knows his team could well live to rue the two points it dropped on Sunday.
“We weren’t complacent,” insisted Abuksis, who complained about the officiating after his side was denied a penalty kick. “The players fought hard, but we just weren’t sharp enough in front of goal and didn’t create enough opportunities.”
Tel Aviv almost snatched the three points in stoppage time, only for Acre goalkeeper Dudu Goresh to make two splendid saves from Walid Badier and Toto Tamuz.
“This feels great because we were going through a rough period,” Goresh said. “The draw will give us a lot of confidence and faith for the future.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv will enter Monday’s match against Betar brimming with confidence after scoring four goals in each of its past two games.
The yellow-and-blue came back from 1-3 down to defeat Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 4-3 before thrashing Bnei Sakhnin 4-0 last week for its ninth win in 12 matches this season.
However, Jerusalem has also enjoyed a rich vein of form in recent weeks, claiming a 3-2 victory with a stoppage time Avi Rikan goal at Maccabi Netanya last week for its fifth win in seven contests.
Monday’s showdown will take place at National Stadium in Ramat Gan as Betar was punished to host two matches away from Teddy after a lighter thrown during the 2-1 defeat to Maccabi Haifa two weeks ago hit linesman Amihai Moses and delayed the match for several minutes.
Over 25,000 fans are expected to attend the match, some 10,000 of them Maccabi supporters.