Wellington Phoenix 0
Melbourne Victory 0
The Wellington Phoenix have extended their unbeaten A-League streak to five matches, drawing 0-0 with 10-man Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.
Despite that, Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay will feel more than a tinge of disappointment with his side dominating most of the game's key metrics but failing to score for the first time since round one. On the plus side, it was Wellington's first clean sheet of the 2019/20 campaign.
The home side played the last half-hour with ten men after Austrian midfielder Kristijan Dobras was shown a straight red card, following through with a high foot after winning the ball and catching Phoenix midfielder Cameron Devlin in the face.
This was a spicy encounter with neither side shy of the physical confrontations, the Victory in particular earning the ire of referee Stephen Lucas. After showing early lenience, he issued a flurry of yellow cards around the half-hour mark, eventually booking nine players – six from the Victory – as well as sending Dobras off.
Facing the Victory on their home patch for the second time in a month, Talay made one enforced change with Devlin earning a first A-League start in place of the injured Alex Rufer. The livewire Aussie looked immediately at home, putting in an impressive shift at the base of Wellington's midfield.
This was a very different Phoenix from the lethargic outfit that started their last two matches, with Wellington immediately into the game, fizzing passes around and controlling possession. All that was missing was an end product.
Their best first-half chance came when Steven Taylor headed a corner back across goal only for Reno Piscopo to fire his volley over. Ulises Davila also fashioned a delicate chip which Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas was able to tip over the bar.
Despite their paucity of possession, the Victory arguably had the best first half openings with Swedish talisman Ola Toivonen stinging the palms of Stefan Marinovic and Dobras striking the post late in the first half. Wellington hit the woodwork themselves early in the second half, Luke DeVere's towering header cannoning into the crossbar from a left-wing corner.
As time ticked down, Wellington launched wave after wave of attack towards an under-manned Victory defence, with the rare sight of the home side parking a navy blue bus in front of their goal to repel them. Ultimately they did enough, but the Victory knew they'd escaped with a draw, while the Phoenix will consider it two points lost.
Wellington next host league leaders Sydney FC next Saturday.