Melbourne Victory have moved into a share of third on the ladder but will feel they could have done better after squandering a host of chances.
Melbourne Victory have moved into a share of third on the ladder but will feel they could have done better after squandering a host of chances as they played out a 0-0 draw with Central Coast Mariners.
The round eight encounter in Gosford which started in conditions which were wet under foot, saw suspended Victory duo Adrian Leijer and Leigh Broxham replaced by Nicholas Ansell and Jason Geria.
The home side made one change in promoting Anthony Caceres to replace the injured Nick Montgomery who was suffering from a corked thigh but did feature late in the encounter.
An end-to-end game, with both sides coming off a last start triumph, was punctuated by free kicks early as both sides turned over possession often.
Central Coast's Storm Roux beat Adama Traore for pace but couldn't lower his right-foot from shot from just outside the penalty area in the seventh minute before Traore did similar just after a Victory corner kick.
Mariners goalkeeper Liam Reddy shut down a Melbourne raid after a Kosta Barbarouses pass pierced the offside trap only for Reddy to race out in time before James Troisi could get a meaningful shot on goal.
Victory shot-stopper Nathan Coe had to tip away a deflected free kick after it appeared Mariners playmaker Marcos Flores got the last touch via his head to a Michael McGlinchey free kick.
In-form marksmen Troisi missed a golden opportunity when he had an attempt blocked by Brent Griffiths after an Archie Thompson pass in the 34th minute.
Coe had to prod away a Mariners ball in the 40th minute but ultimately won a free kick after Mariners striker Matt Simon fouled him on the edge of the area.
Victory skipper Mark Milligan missed two gilt-edged chances late in the half as Kevin Muscat's side looked to capitalise on their dominance in possession
Four yellow cards were issued in the first half as both teams lacked discipline at times with Milligan in particular nearly instigating a further reaction when he fouled Flores close to the interval.
Victory continued to show spark to open up the second stanza and Archie Thompson could have scored in the 50th minute but his header was wayward.
Socceroo Thompson spawned another chance eight minutes later when he elected to go himself when he could have fed the ball to either of two teammates both unmarked as Phil Moss' men somehow managed to withstand Melbourne's constant attacks.
McGlinchey gave the Mariners hope against the run of play in the 65th minute when he volleyed a chance into Melbourne's Jason Geria after a cross from fellow All Whites international Roux.
As Victory continued to raid the local's goal the two Victory substitutes nearly combined for the winner in the 80th minute after Connor Pain provided the pass for Gui Finkler to shot. However Reddy was equal to the task as he continued to keep his side in the match.
Mariners substitute Daniel McBreen was adjudged offside marginally in the 88th minute and also had a shot blocked moments later as the veteran marksmen went in search of the winner.
Victory's final flurries in attack, amongst their 11 shots on goal to the home team's five, also amounted to nothing in a pulsating encounter.
Central Coast Mariners 0 Melbourne Victory 0 Crowd: 5,787 @ Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford