By BRUCE CONSTANTINEAU
The Vancouver Whitecaps and Carolina RailHawks played to a scoring-chance-filled 0-0 draw Saturday in USL-1 play at Swangard Stadium.
The 'Caps appeared to score in the 26th minute when forward Marlon James headed a cross from newcomer Nizar Khalfan and then had at least two strikes on the rebound allowed by Railhawks keeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell.
The ball clearly crossed the goal line but referee Dave Gantar blew the play dead.
Tanzanian international Khalfan made an impressive debut for the Whitecaps, setting up James' chance and just missing himself on a long strike in the 18th minute.
Former Wales U-21 international defender Shaun Pejic also had a strong debut for the 'Caps, stopping a dangerous Carolina chance late in the half.
Whitecaps chances abounded in the second half. A low left-footed shot from Martin Nash just missed the far post in the 52nd minute while forward Charles Gbeke had two great chances after that.
Patterson-Sewell made a strong save to stop Gbeke on a close-in chance and was fortunate a few minutes later when a Gbeke header off an Ansu Toure cross hit the crossbar before being cleared away by a Carolina defender.
'Caps midfielder Lyle Martin was denied in extra time when Patterson-Sewell made an excellent leg save off Martin's strong shot inside the box. Gbeke's follow-up header just sailed wide.
The Whitecaps - losers of their last two games - were desperate for a win as they try to survive a tight three-way battle with Montreal and Miami for the last two USL-1 playoff spots.
Third-place Carolina had won its last four games and trails league-leading Portland by five points, with a game in hand.
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