Football: Scoreless draw enough to keep Wellington Phoenix atop A-League table

Wellington Phoenix have battled out a scoreless draw against defending champions Central Coast Mariners at Wellington to maintain their two-point buffer atop the A-League table.

After beginning the season with four losses, Mariners entered the contest on an 11-game unbeaten streak and extended that run dating back to November 12. 

The result also means Phoenix have still not lost in 2024, since falling 3-1 to Sydney FC on December 29. 

Kosta Barbarouses and Noah Smith contest the ball.
Kosta Barbarouses and Noah Smith contest the ball. Photo credit: Getty Images

Both teams enjoyed enough half chances to break the goal drought, but were largely frustrated by outstanding defence, and a pair of clean sheets to keepers Alex Paulsen and Danny Vukovic.

In added time, Phoenix forward Bozhidar Kraev unleashed a right foot from inside the box, smothered in front of goal by Vukovic. Moments later, Mariners defender Mikael Doka rifled a free-kick from outside the penalty area, fended away by Paulsen.

"We were good with the ball today," reflected captain Alex Rufer. "We were patient, but we lacked the final product unfortunately.

"We'll take the point, they're a good team and we'll move on to next weekend at home.

"For us to take that step forward, we have to be really clinical in front of goal."

Wellington host Western United on Saturday, with both second-placed Mariners and third-placed Melbourne Victory in action later that night.

Wellington Phoenix 0 Central Coast Mariners 0