Melbourne City and Hyundai A-League leaders Perth Glory labored to a 0-0 draw in tough conditions at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.
At the end of a week in which two of their players - Andy Keogh and Josh Risdon - were arrested following a late-night altercation, and with their status as the competition's front-runners under threat, Kenny Lowe's visitors might have been expected to produce a response on the field.
But the men from Western Australia were distinctly lacklustre in this away game, opting to keep it tight in the heat and were apparently content to return home with a point to show for their efforts, one that takes them two points clear of Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United at the top of the standings.
The hosts, who had the better of the scarce chances in front of a thin crowd, had to make do with a second successive goalless stalemate, a result that sees them draw level with sixth-placed Brisbane Roar, although John van 't Schip's men remain seventh due to their inferior goal difference.
What they said
"I think for both teams it was extremely difficult. Probably the first 20,30 minutes we played really well and I think the heat got to us. I think we're on the right track, last week we played against Wellington away we kept a cleansheet and again today against the league leader so I think we're definitely on the right track." - Melbourne City striker Josh Kennedy
"For us we had been conceding a lot of goals, that's probably why I played in midfield today. I haven't played there since the Miron Bleiberg "lizard system" I think so it was important for us to get a cleansheet. Definitely we're not happy with where we've been in the last month but we just looking forward to playing at home now against Brisbane." - Perth Glory defender Michael Thwaite
Debutant Kew Jaliens should have headed City into the lead with a free header from close range early in the second half. It was as close as either side came to breaking the deadlock.
Substitute Mitch Nichols played Andy Keogh in one-on-one with Tando Velaphi in injury time, but the City goalkeeper did well to rush out and clear the danger.
Opta Data key stats
City only had four shots on target while Perth had none. Those underwhelming numbers tell the story of a forgettable contest.
Nothing came from it, but Josh Kennedy's one-touch, back-heeled flick on the edge of the area to feed Massimo Murdocca was a delightful piece of skill in an contest that was far from easy on the eye.
Jacob Melling limped off just before the hour mark and gestured to his left leg before heading down the tunnel, but he was moving reasonably freely.
Back to the drawing board
Playing Michael Thwaite as one of two defensive midfielders with Rostyn Griffiths will help Perth keep clean sheets, but it won't get fans through the turnstiles or offer much for the highlights reel. If Kenny Lowe wants to hold off the free-scoring Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United in the run-in, he may need to take more chances.
The Final Word
Glory fans will hope their team shows more adventure when they host the Roar on Saturday night, while City have a tough assignment at home to title-chasing Adelaide on Friday.