Hyundai A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners extended their advantage on top of the ladder with a 0-0 draw against the Newcastle Jets.
Hyundai A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners extended their advantage on top of the ladder with a 0-0 draw against the Newcastle Jets on a wet Saturday night in Gosford.
The result sees the Mariners move to 35 points, three clear of Adelaide United, while the Jets leapfrog Sydney FC, who earlier routed Wellington 7-1, back into the top six.
Both sides took their time to adjust to the conditions before former England striker Emile Heskey - returning to the side from a hip flexor injury - attempted to assert his authority on the game with two glancing headers in the space of three minutes heading towards the back post, though neither of them could find any Jets players.
James Brown was instrumental in causing the Mariners trouble in defence in the first half but did blot his copy book when he received a caution in the 33rd minute.
Jets captain Ruben Zadkovich also went into the book in the 27th minute and was lucky not to be on the end of further disciplinary action after a rash challenge brought down Daniel McBreen three minutes later.
The best chances of the game came late in the first half.
Firstly, Mariners midfielder Michael McGlinchey beat three defenders before forcing a save of the year contender from Jets keeper Mark Birighitti in the 40th minute.
The Novocastrians returned serve when Matt Ryan was called into action three minutes later as a long-range strike from Josh Brillante was superbly parried away by the 20-year-old.
Newcastle should have broken the deadlock early in the second half when ex-Gold Coast midfielder Brown played a shot across goal in the 49th minute despite having Heskey and Ryan Griffiths unmarked in the penalty area.
The match threatened to boil over on 65 minutes after the Mariners players, specifically Mile Sterjovski, didn't take kindly to a foul from Scott Neville.
Neville was booked for the foul but no further action was taken.
Chasing a decisive goal, Mariners striker McBreen received a yellow card in the 73rd minute when, in the act of shooting, he lunged at a cross but ended up fouling Jets defender Sam Gallaway.
As the rain continued to come down chances were at a premium with attempts late to McGlinchey and Patrick Zwaanswijk for the Mariners.
Newcastle went close before Mariners defender Pedj Bojic cleared off the line following a defensive mix-up.
Bet365 Man of the Match: Trent Sainsbury
Someone give him a Socceroos jersey because once again Sainsbury threw himself into challenges and delivered pitch-opening passes for the Mariners in a consumate performance.
Central Coast Mariners 0 Newcastle Jets 0 Crowd: 11,249 @ Bluetongue Stadium