Melbourne City had to settle for a share of the points in the first Melbourne Derby of the A-League Men’s season.
A crowd of a tick under 26,000 were in the house to witness just the fifth scoreless draw in the fixture’s history.
Aurelio Vidmar stuck with an unchanged team across both his starting XI and substitutes, keeping the faith in his squad that came back late to earn a point last time out.
Starting XI: 1. Jamie YOUNG (GK), 25. Callum TALBOT, 22. Curtis GOOD, 26. Samuel SOUPRAYEN, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 8. Hamza SAKHI, 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 10. Tolgay ARSLAN, 44. Marin JAKOLIS, 11. Leo NATEL, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).
Substitutes: 33. Patrick BEACH (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 4. Nuno REIS, 17. Terry ANTONIS, 21. Alessandro LOPANE, 37. Max CAPUTO, 46. Ben MAZZEO.
A packed house at AAMI Park was up and about from the first whistle, creating an atmosphere befitting of the occasion.
Neither side would really ever gain a hold of the momentum for an extended period throughout the first half.
While it was a tense battle on the pitch, clear-cut chances were at a premium with just two combined shots on target in the first 45 minutes.
Aziz Behich was comfortably City’s best performer in that opening half, the Socceroos full back continuously driving down the left flank and looking to create chances for his teammates further up the pitch.
Jamie Young was forced into the first proper save of the night a few minutes after the break, reacting quickly after a Ryan Teague shot flew through a sea of bodies following a corner.
It continued to be a pretty cagey contest throughout the second half as City looked sound at the back, although didn’t create a whole heap up the other end of the pitch.
Hamza Sakhi and Tolgay Arslan were a couple of our best performers across the night, the foreign duo putting in strong shifts in the middle of the park.
The clock continued to dwindle down with neither team creating too much, until the stroke of stoppage time when Jamie Maclaren looked to have won it.
The City skipper turned on a dime and slotted it home past Izzo and as AAMI Park erupted, referee Alireza Faghani decided there was a foul on the Maclaren for a small tug of the shirt and the goal was disallowed.
Leo Natel was then almost the hero, firing a powerful strike from outside the box that Paul Izzo just got a fingertip to, seeing it out for a corner.
Five minutes of stoppage time wasn’t enough for either team to break the deadlock, the fixture ending the same way it started at 0-0.
Will return to AAMI Park for our third consecutive home game, set to face Brisbane Roar next Thursday night.