Ismaily missed out on the chance to close the gap on Egyptian Premier League leaders Zamalek after being held to a goalless draw by rivals Masry in a tense Suez Canal derby on Tuesday.
The draw leaves Ismaily in third place with 43 points, seven adrift of Zamalek who also settled for a 0-0 draw with El-Geish on Monday. With five matches remaining before the end of the season, it seems unlikely that Ismaily can launch a late title assault.
Dark horses Maqassa, who are fourth-placed and stole the limelight with a superb run of results in their first season in the top flight, are now just three points behind Ismaily.
The build-up to the match was marred by crowd trouble after Masry’s visiting supporters engaged in a scuffle with their Ismaily counterparts immediately after arriving in coastal city Ismailia.
The match itself was also halted for several minutes after Ismaily fans hurled stones onto the pitch and ripped up seats.
It was the latest in a series of ugly incidents which have tarnished the image of Egyptian football following the January 25 Revolution which toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.
Ittihad of Alexandria were recently given a hefty fine and ordered to play one match away from home and behind closed doors after their fans invaded the pitch following a 2-0 loss to fellow strugglers Wadi Degla.
Ismaily had the better possession throughout the 90 minutes but failed to break down Masry, who were helped by some impressive saves from goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi.
El-Shennawi, who also produced some brilliant displays in Egypt’s African Youth Championship campaign in April, thwarted a flurry of Ismaily attempts, including a curling shot from playmaker Abdullah Saied in the first half.
Ismaily’s Nigerian striker Ndubuisi Godwin headed wide with the goal at his mercy and Saied missed the target with a powerful shot from inside the area in the latter stages as Masry, who are seventh in the league table, held firm to secure a share of spoils.