Mariners and Phoenix slump to stalemate

Dec 31, 2017 - 10:21 AM Central Coast's A-League finals push is at risk of slipping away after a goalless draw with Wellington left them lagging in eighth at the turn of the year.

Neither side really looked like scoring in a dour, somewhat sloppy New Year's Eve contest that leaves the Phoenix dead last and likely wishing the newly returned Nathan Burns had been available a few days earlier.

Goals are also becoming a particular problem for the Mariners, who have now gone four games without a single one and, should they fail to score away to Melbourne Victory on Saturday, will equal the club's five-game drought of 2006.

Compounding a busy January is the departure of starters Danny De Silva and Trent Buhagiar and back-up goalkeeper Tom Glover to the Olyroos.

Despite their more defensive set-up and significantly less possession, the Phoenix fashioned far more opportunities in the first half, going into the break with 11 shots to two.

The Mariners had Ben Kennedy to thank for preserving their clean sheet, the man-of-the-match shot-stopper denying Roy Krishna and Matt Ridenton, among others.

The strongest chance came on the half-hour mark when Krishna squared up for Andrija Kaluderovic.

The top-scoring Serb considered attempting to curl it in on an angle but decided to flick the ball to Ridenton, who missed a sitter from point-blank range.

Up the other end, Lewis Italiano was confident when Connor Pain rounded on goal and sharp off his line to punch clear an Andrew Hoole corner, while Andrew Durante got a boot between Asdrubal and the ball at the near post.

The Mariners were guilty of moving the ball too slowly but picked up the pace in a more open second half.

As soon as Storm Roux was brought on they found their opening down the left flank, the Kiwi taking a shot from outside the box that veered wide.

Kwabena Appiah's introduction further helped matters as the fleet-footed forward went on two solo runs that fizzled at the final frontier.

But Goran Paracki did well to keep De Silva quiet and neither side could muster the killer blow.

Source: AAP

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