Sydney FC denies Melbourne Victory

Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory each had to settle for a point as they opened their 2008/09 Hyundai A-League campaigns at the Sydney Football Stadium with an enthralling goalless draw.

Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory each had to settle for a point as they opened their 2008/09 Hyundai A-League campaigns at the Sydney Football Stadium with an enthralling goalless draw.

The home side was indebted to Clint Bolton for remaining in the contest at the break, the custodian showed no ill effects from the neck injury that had him in doubt for the match and pulling off a string of sharp saves to thwart the Victory-s hopes of taking an early lead.

Sydney-s best chance fell to debutant Shannon Cole, who almost celebrated his recently signed one-year deal with a stunning strike, only to see his dead-piece rattle off the left-hand upright.

Coach John Kosmina was missing a host of first-teamers, forcing him to hand A-League debuts to former Sydney Olympic player Cole and rookie striker Chris Payne.

Steve Corica wore the captain-s armband in Tony Popovic-s absence, with Jacob Timpano starting at centre-back for the first time in two years.

Melbourne dominated the early exchanges as Sydney struggled to cope with Victory-s lively new attacking duo of Ney Fabiano and Danny Allsopp.

Bolton was called into action after just five minutes, blocking Fabiano-s snap shot.

The nippy striker latched onto Tom Pondeljak-s through ball, showing too much pace for Timpano before getting his shot away.

Five minutes later Danny Allsopp forced Bolton to parry his shot away, before Nikolas Tsattalios cleared the danger in the ensuing scramble in the box.

The offside flag spared Nay Fabiano the blushes of missing a guilt-edged opportunity on the half-hour.

Sydney-s defence failed to deal with Allsopp-s delivery across the face of goal – the ball fell to Pondeljak, whose scuffed shot fell to Fabiano with the goal at his mercy, yet Bolton managed to scramble the ball away in another terrific save, not knowing that the linesman had his flag raised.

Adam Casey looked sprightly for the side in his return to A-League action from a long injury layoff, and along with Corica looked most likely to create chances for the home side in the first term, but the Victory were winning the midfield exchanges and putting pressure on Sydney after some lax defending.

Costa Rican international Lopez should-ve done better when he stung Bolton-s gloves late in the half, where he was left unmarked in the box.

While the second half failed to deliver the fireworks of previous Sydney-Melbourne encounters, the 16,227 strong-crowd was treated to an open match.

Sydney grew in stature as Corica begun to impose himself on the contest, and Cole grew in confidence down the left flank, showing his pace and ability to beat a defender.

Sydney enjoyed a string of good chances on the hour, starting with Simon Colosimo-s drive that flashed across the face of goal.

Olyroo Mark Bridge was introduced into the match for Payne, who found work tough-going up against the wily and experienced veteran Kevin Muscat, who is double the youngsters- age.

Michael Theoklitos was called upon for the first time on 66 minutes when Adam Casey burst onto Bridge-s incisive through-ball, bravely smothering the ball from Casey-s feet as he stormed into the box.

Cole then stamped his presence on the contest with his thrilling free-kick after Lopez brought Colosimo down on the edge of the area, and the 24-year-old followed this curling effort up with a thunderous attempt soon after, which rose over the bar.

Michael Thwaite looked confident getting forward on his A-League debut, and Melbourne missed their best chance of the second half when his cross eluded everyone in Sydney-s box with fifteen left on the clock.

The Victory enjoyed another spell of the possession as the game wound down, but Sydney, marshalled by a rejuvenated Timpano, held on for a brave point in the face of a depleted numbers and an early Victory onslaught.

Match Details

Sydney FC 0 v Melbourne Victory 0

Sydney FC
1.Clint Bolton (gk), 2. Iain Fyfe, 3. Nikolas Tsattalios, 4. Simon Colosimo, 7. Rob Middleby,
10. Steve Corica (c), 12. Shannon Cole, 15. Terry McFlynn, 16. Christopher Payne (19. Mark Bridge 60-), 17. Jacob Timpano, 18. Adam Casey.

Substitutes not used: 20. Ivan Necevski (gk), 24. Ryan Walsh, 25. Robert Mileski.

Yellow Cards: Timpano (24-), Terry McFlynn (44-), Simon Colosimo (88-)
Red Cards: nil
Goals: nil

Melbourne Victory
1.Michael Theoklitos, 2. Kevin Muscat (c), 3. Michael Thwaite, 7. Matthew Kemp, 9. Daniel Allsopp, 11. De Oliveira Ney Fabiano, 12. Rodrigo Vargas, 15. Tom Pondeljak (18. Leigh Broxham 46-), 16. Carlos Hernandez, 17. Jose Luis Lopez, 19. Evan Berger (14. Billy Celeski 65-).

Substitutes not used: 5. Sebastian Ryall, 20. Mitchell Langerak (gk).

Yellow Cards: Rodrigo Vargas (31-), Michael Thwaite (59-), Joe Luis Lopez (68-).
Red Cards: nil
Goals: nil

Referee: Mark Shield
Crowd: 16,277