Defences on top as top-of-the-table battle ends goalless

Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix shared the points after a 0-0 draw in the Isuzu UTE A-League top-of-the-table clash on Tuesday afternoon.

The stalemate in the New Zealand capital is the first goalless draw of the Mariners’ season, and sees us remain second behind Wellington in the ladder.

Despite being unable to find a winner in a closely contested match, in avoiding defeat we extend our unbeaten run to 14 matches in all competitions and are now just one game away from equalling the club record run of 15 games without defeat.

Mark Jackson named an unchanged side to the one that convincingly defeated Adelaide United on Saturday evening, with Storm Roux’s inclusion on the bench after returning from suspension, the only change to the match day squad.

Both sides tried to gain control in the first half, with Wellington dominating possession in the first 25 minutes, before Mariners grew into the game and starting seeing more of the ball.

Neither side were able to force a breakthrough though, managing only one real chance each and both came in the final stages of the half.

On 41 minutes, Ryan Edmondson’s powerful effort after a scramble in the box, only found the grateful arms of Alex Paulsen after travelling through a sea of bodies in the Wellington box.

Two minutes later, Phoenix talisman Kosta Barberouses couldn’t find the target with his diving header from David Ball’s cross.

Phoenix came out strongly in the second half, with Danny Vukovic called upon twice to keep out long range efforts from Oskar van Hattum and Ben Old.

But it was the Mariners that finished the strongest, with Max Balard coming close to what would have been a perfectly-timed and stunning first A-League goal, but his long range effort whistled just past the post.

Angel Torres, despite having a quieter afternoon than his performances of late, still looked threatening as the Mariners looked to force a winner, his powerful strike from distance was held by Paulsen.

Vuka was called upon once more at the other end, as Kraev’s effort in injury time took what could have been a crucial deflection, but our goalkeeper was alert and got down sharply to his left to save.

There was still time for the Mariners to test Paulsen again late on. After Torres was fouled within shooting distance, Mikael Doka stepped up and curled his free-kick over the wall and on target, but the young Phoenix stopper tipped his effort over the bar.

From the resulting corner, Brian Kaltak had the last chance of the game, but couldn’t keep a difficult header down from Doka’s corner.

In the end, the points were fairly shared between the top two sides in the A-League right now. The Mariners’ attention now turns to our huge double header on Saturday (10th February) as Sydney FC visit Our Paradise in the Isuzu UTE A-League (7:45pm), in the first meeting of the season between the two.

That enticing game between two in-form sides is preceded by a big one in the Liberty A-League, as Melbourne Victory are the visitors – a huge contest in the top six of the competition.

Victory’s star-studded side including Matildas’ Lydia Williams and Alex Chidiac, currently sit fourth, with Emily Husband’s side just a point behind them in sixth.

You can also see our very own Matilda star, Kyah Simon, in action for the first time this season at Our Paradise after she has returned from a long-term injury to feature in our previous two matches away from home.

Saturday promises to be a massive evening of football on the Coast. Get your tickets now, with a special 2-for-1 offer now on!