By Gabriel Tan at the Jurong West Stadium
Gombak headed into the game high on confidence after last week's 1-0 win over Balestier Khalsa, but assistant coach Stephen Ng, standing in for the absent K. Balagumaran, was forced to make two changes to his starting XI due to injuries to attacking duo Julien Durand and Mustaqim Manzur.
And their combined absence told early on as Tanjong Pagar controlled the opening exchanges but failed to convert their dominance into goals, with Haitian striker Gilbert Bayonne guilty of wasting several good chances.
The Bulls eventually found their rhythm and ended the game strongly but were also unable to find the breakthrough, as both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Considering Tanjong Pagar were last in action three days ago when they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Harimau Muda, it was somewhat surprising they started the more energetic of the two sides.
Two minutes in, Hafiz Osman fired a warning shot when he headed an Asraf Rashid freekick just wide, before another excellent delivery six minutes later from the Jaguars winger was nodded over by Bayonne, although the linesman's flag would have cancelled that effort out even if it had found the back of the net.
Argentinean playmaker Carlos Delgado was next to try his luck for Tanjong Pagar in the 22nd minute with a fierce shot from the edge of the area that was straight at Zaiful Nizam, but it was one of Gombak's own that nearly opened the scoring for the visitors a minute before the half-hour mark when a horribly-scuffed clearance from captain Obadin Aikhena spun backwards and almost crept into the far corner.
Four minutes later, the Bulls received another blow when inspirational defender Ismail Yunos, who was suffering from a stomach problem, was unable to carry on and had to be replaced by youngster Zulfadhli Emran.
By now, Terry Pathmanathan's charges were completely in control of the game and Bayonne should really have put them ahead four minutes before the break when Takaya Kawanabe stole possession from Walid Lounis and slipped his strike partner through down the right. However, with a clear path to goal and from a slight angle, the Haitian failed to hit the target.
Three minutes into the second half, Gombak nearly punished their opponents for their profligacy when Fareez Farhan was unable to turn the ball into an unguarded net, after Fajar Sarib sent a clearance straight into Christopher Anderson, who deflected the ball into the path of his team-mate.
However, Fajar made amends for that error a minute before the hour mark when he bravely punched away a dangerous delivery from Zulfadhli, who had broken free down the right after exchanging a clever one-two with K. Vikraman.
Anderson then sent a blistering effort from the edge of the box just wide in the 67th minute, before Bayonne blazed another shot over after cleverly exchanging passes with Kawanabe on the counter.
As the game entered the closing stages, Gombak's extra day of rest began to show as they started to look more dangerous, and Hafiz Rahim was unlucky not to open the scoring in the 81st minute when he picked up the ball from Anderson and sent a looping 25-yard effort just over Fajar's crossbar.
Two of the Bulls substitutes then nearly combined to good effect two minutes later when Fairoz Hasan whipped in a good low cross from the right straight to Jung Hee-bong, who looked poised to turn the ball towards goal until Delwinder Singh put in a terrific sliding block at the near post.
Gombak had one final chance to steal all three points two minutes from time when Hafiz picked up the ball just inside the box, and played the overlapping Nurullah Hussein in behind the Tanjong Pagar defence with an ingenuous backheel. However, the teenager could only watch as his drilled effort was smothered by Fajar at his near post, as both sides were left to rue their inability to make their chances count.
Gombak United: Zaiful Nizam, Walid Lounis, Ismail Yunos (Zulfadhli Emran 33'), Obadin Aikhena, Nurullah Hussein, K. Vikraman, Adrian Dhanaraj (Fairoz Hasan 73'), Christopher Anderson, Fareez Farhan, Hafiz Rahim, Ahmad Suhaimi (Jung Hee-bong 46').
Tanjong Pagar United: Fajar Sarib, Jonathan Xu (Delwinder Singh 76'), Hanafi Salleh, Hafiz Osman, Zahid Ahmad, Asraf Rashid, Anthony Aymard (Syed Karim 90'), Carlos Delgado, Azhar Ahmad (Hafiz Nor 65'), Takaya Kawanabe, Gilbert Bayonne.