Sydney and Melbourne share honours

Bitter A-League rivals Sydney FC and Melbourne have shared the honours in their first Hyundai A-League meeting of the season, playing out an entertaining scoreless draw at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Bitter A-League rivals Sydney FC and Melbourne have shared the honours in their first Hyundai A-League meeting of the season, playing out an entertaining scoreless draw at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Both sides had opportunities to secure maximum points but found their touch in front of goal lacking before a solid first-day crowd of 16,227.

Sydney debutant Shannon Cole came closest to breaking the deadlock, sending his superb free kick crashing into Melbourne's left post with 21 minutes remaining

With the likes of John Aloisi, Tony Popovic and Alex Brosque watching from the stands, Sydney coach John Kosmina handed teenager striker Chris Payne and dead-ball specialist Cole their A-League debuts.

Understandably the hosts started nervously and were under the pump early but coach John Kosmina was ultimately happy with the perfromance.

"It was a good battle for us,'' said Kosmina after the match.

"Clint Bolton was exceptional in goals but that's what keepers are there for, he did a great job for us."

"But in the second half we more than took the game to Melbourne and maybe could have come out of it with something."

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick also felt his side should have taken all the points, particularly after a series of good early chances.

"We felt as though we should have taken all three points, particularly with the chances we had in the first half," Merrick said.

"Even in the second half we created chances but to come here and say we're really disappointed not to take all three points speaks volumes for how we played."

Striker Ney Fabiano had a gilt-edged chance to put Victory ahead after five minutes, the Brazilian set free by a lovely through ball only to have his shot blocked by the advancing Clint Bolton.

Bolton was called on again four minutes later, denying Daniel Allsopp at the near post.

Carlos Hernandez should have done better with a 25th minute free kick from just outside the box, drilling his shot straight at Bolton.

The Sydney FC goal came under attack again five minutes later, Fabiano flicking his header into the path of Allsopp who motored down the right,

The big striker's ankle-high cross evaded Robert Middleby and found Tom Pondeljak unmarked at the back post.

Pondeljak scuffed his shot, the rebound finding Fabiano in an offside position.

A minute later Melbourne's Rodrigo Vargas was booked for a piece of over-zealous defending.

Sydney was finding it hard to unlock the Victory defence, Adam Casey forced to fire from distance with no accuracy after 35 minutes.

The chances continued to fall at the other end, Jose Luis Lopez squandering a volleyed opportunity with the goal beckoning.

The second started full of promise for Sydney, Payne and Simon Colosimo combining nicely on the edge of the box only for the latter to drag his effort wide after 57 minutes.

That was to be Payne's last contribution, the 17-year-old former State League player receiving a nice ovation from the crowd after being replaced by new signing Mark Bridge on the hour.

Bridge almost undid the Victory defence with one of his first touches, splitting two defenders with a lovely ball for Casey to go one-on-one with Melbourne 'keeper Michael Theoklitos.

But Casey couldn't lift his shot over the Victory stopper and the chance went begging.

Minutes later Lopez was handed a yellow card after bringing down Sydney skipper Steve Corica on the edge of the box.

Cole showed why he is considered so deadly from set pieces, curling the ensuing free kick over the wall and into the left post with Theoklitos stranded.

Colosimo flirted with danger by bringing down Fabiano on the edge of the box and earning himself a yellow card with two minutes left.

Thankfully for Colosimo and Sydney, Hernandez's free kick went just wide and the stalemate was assured.

Hyundai A-League

Sydney FC 0 Melbourne Victory 0