Melbourne City FC has played out a 0-0 draw with fellow top-four contenders Adelaide United at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
With chances at both ends, neither side was able to capitalise, as both Eugene Galekovic and Paul Izzo had standout performances between the posts.
City take on fellow top-four aspirants Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium next Sunday 21 April, before return to AAMI Park for their final regular season fixture, hosting Central Coast on Friday 26 April, kick-off 7:50pm.
Head Coach Warren Joyce made one change to the starting XI that defeated Brisbane in Round 24, with Nathaniel Atkinson replacing Bart Schenkeveld, who succumbed to a minor quad strain. Connor Metcalfe was named on the bench.
City returned to AAMI Park on Saturday looking to build on a positive Round 24 performance and leapfrog opponents, Adelaide United, on the A-League ladder in the all-important battle for fourth place and a home final.
Head Coach Warren Joyce was dealt a late blow with talismanic centre-back, Bart Schenkeveled ruled out with a quad strain picked up after the final training session of the week, allowing Nathaniel Atkinson the opportunity to come in a right back with the versatile, Ritchie De Laet shifting to centre back.
With the exception of Schenkeveld, City’s line up remained unchanged from the previous week’s 4-1 win, with Berenguer partnering with Harrison and Maclaren in attack.
The match got off to a flyer with Galekovic making a smart save down low to deny Goodwin before, on the second minute, Kearyn Baccus sipped past a defender and curled the ball against the post from 20 yards out with Izzo beaten.
City continued to push forward in search of the opener and came close again in the 11th minute when flying Frenchman, Florin Berenguer surged forward on the left before playing an incisive ball across the edge of the box to Harrison who fizzed a dangerous drive towards goal forcing Izzo to parry away for a corner.
Berenguer was at it again in the 30th minute, beating Galloway and crossing into the box with the resulting header falling to Baccus who controlled and fired just over on the half-volley.
Having had the majority of possession and threatening play, City almost found itself behind when, on 35 minutes, Mileusenic picked the ball up in a breakaway, cut inside and shot wide only to see De Laet turn it onto the City post and Baccus clear for a corner.
Five minutes later City had Galekovic to thank, the veteran keeper pulling off an impressive double save from close range, the first from Blackwood, the second from Halloran. And just a minute later it was Griffiths to the rescue, producing a goal-line headed clearance.
The second half began a much tighter affair than the first with both sides pushing without creating a chance of the breakthrough.
On 63 minutes City hit the woodwork for the second time as Izzo tipped Harrison Delbridge’s goal-bound header onto the bar to keep the scores locked at 0-0.
On 75 minutes the goalposts were in action again as City’s Jamie Maclaren became the latest player to be denied. A creative ball through from Riley McGree allowed Maclaren the space to measure his shot from a tight angle, beating Izzo but not the bottom right post.
In the 87th minute, Craig Goodwin went inches away from finding the breakthrough with a fierce set piece, only to be denied yet again by a brilliant Galekovic stop, which ultimately ensured a share of the spoils.
City take on Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Sunday 21 April, before returning to AAMI Park on Friday 26 April to host the Mariners in their final regular season fixture of the season.