HAPPY Valley were kicking themselves yesterday for failing to finish off arch-rivals South China despite being presented with the lion's share of chances in a 1-1 draw at Hong Kong Stadium. Happy Valley had gone into the match confident of grabbing the points, but their First Division campaign got off to an awkward start as South China shared the spoils in a match attended by the lowest crowd for a league opener since the professional era started 30 years ago. Happy Valley midfielder Kwok Man-tik put his side ahead in the 24th minute after burying his effort following fine work down the right by Lo Kai-wah. South China equalised in the 55th minute following a glancing header from forward Au Wai-lun. But South China's administration director Peter Leung Shou-chi admitted luck was on the Caroliners' side after Happy Valley finished the match the better team. 'We really should have lost the game. We held on for a draw which is something you have to be happy with because Happy Valley took the game to us and almost won. Our fitness is still not there and I am hopeful we'll get better after getting a few games under our belts,' said Leung. Scottish striker Paul Ritchie was first guilty for a glaring miss early in the first half for Happy Valley, but the real culprit was Nigerian forward Cornelius Udebuluzor - formerly known as Udeh Collins of now-defunct team Mansion - who was two gifted chances to break the deadlock. Udebuluzor made a hash of his first attempt when he bore down on goal after skilfully trapping the ball and breaking through in the 69th minute. But with only goalkeeper Mick Leonard to beat, he chipped his attempt over the bar. He was then presented with another gilt-edged chance in the last minute, but this time his attempt struck the crossbar from six yards out. South China had the better of play in the opening exchanges and attacking midfielder Yeung Ching-kwong should have done better when he, too, wasted a golden opportunity to score. He missed a sitter in the sixth minute after seeing his effort from just five yards out scooped over the bar. Happy Valley goalkeeper Peter Guthrie had frustration written on his face and said: 'It was a disappointing result for the team since we had about 70 per cent possession. South China did not have a single shot on target. It was very frustrating for us. At the end of the day, we didn't put the ball in the back of the net and didn't take our chances. 'We have to pick ourselves up before our next game against Instant-Dict. But as for not being able to win, that's disappointing but that's football. The former Sing Tao and Rangers goalkeeper said he expected this year's race to be a lot tighter with other teams having the ability to finally end the South China-Happy Valley dominance of previous seasons. 'This season is going to be a lot tighter. South China and Happy Valley are not as strong as they were before. Even Yee Hope have a chance at the title,' he said. Ritchie, signed from Yee Hope last month, said of his miss: 'These things happen and you just have to take it on the chin and get on with it.' Meanwhile, Happy Valley have signed former South China defender Aurelio da Silva on a one-month trial. Aurelio, who played for the Caroliners three seasons ago, last played for Mexican side Puebla after two seasons with Greek First Division side Kalamata.