Willem II edged towards an immediate return to the Eredivisie with a battling goalless draw at FC Den Bosch this afternoon. The winner of the two-legged play-off will compete alongside the elite next season and Willem will be the happier of the two sides ahead of Sunday's return on home soil.
The weekend clash is likely to be a more open affair with both teams erring on the side of caution at the Stadion De Vliert. Den Bosch's Kevin Begois was the busier of the two goalkeepers with the hosts offering little going forward.
Begois was first called into action after 12 minutes of a scrappy opening. Willem's Virgil Misidjan burst through but his effort was smothered by the onrushing keeper. Misidjan was denied again a minute later, Begois producing a fine save to tip away the forward's curling effort which was heading towards the left-hand corner.
Marc Hocher was next to try his luck from 25 yards with Begois making a routine save to touch it over the bar. It took Den Bosch 25 minutes to muster an effort of note and that resulted in Ronnie Reniers shooting disappointingly wide when well placed.
Begois had a moment of fortune five minutes into the second half when he air-kicked a routine clearance and had to watch as the ball trickled wide of the gaping net. Willem remained on the front foot and Danny Guyt saw a goalbound shot deflected wide off a Den Bosch leg.
Den Bosch responded and Willem goalkeeper David Meul was called into action after 57 minutes to make a fine save from Danny Verbeek's free-kick. But it was Begois who ensured the tie remained goalless by repelling Ricardo Ippel's powerful drive after 64 minutes.