A matter of centimetres stood between Central Coast and a winover an under-strength Melbourne Victory last night as the sidesplayed out a scoreless A-League draw at Bluetongue Stadium.
Looking to capitalise on a host of Victory absentees, includingstar attackers Harry Kewell and Carlos Hernandez, the Marinerslooked the more likely throughout but couldn't find a winner -although they couldn't have come much closer.
Graham Arnold's side was denied twice in a matter of seconds ina controversial first-half goal-mouth scramble and came within awhisker several times in the second half as they squandered ahandful of chances.
While the Mariners will view the result as two points lost, itstretched both sides' unbeaten runs to three matches as theyrecover from slow starts to the 2011/12 campaign.
The Victory were missing Socceroos midfielder Kewell and CostaRican Hernandez, both on international duty, while goalkeeper AnteCovic and Matthew Foschini were both unavailable due to suspensionfollowing last week's fiery 2-2 draw with Brisbane Roar.
Last night's match in Gosford failed to reach any great heightsbut the 29th minute goalmouth scramble was the main talking pointamong the 10,521 fans.
Michael McGlinchey thought he had scored when Victory 'keeperLawrence Thomas fumbled a shot backwards towards goal, only forRodrigo Vargas to save the day with a stunning overheadclearance.
Daniel McBreen then hit the underside of the crossbar with afollow-up header and Mariners players appealed in unison claimingthe ball had crossed the line before bouncing back out.
But assistant referee Scott Edeling ruled no goal, a decisionthat looked vindicated after replays showed the ball probably notcompletely crossing the line.
The incident provided some excitement in an otherwise mediocrefirst half, with neither side able to create clear-cut chances.
The Victory's only real opportunity came in the 40th minute whenMatthew Kemp played an exquisite one-two with Marco Rojas beforeMariners captain Alex Wilkinson cleared the danger.
The Mariners kept the momentum after the halftime break withOliver Bozanic forcing a decent save out of Thomas in the 50thminute.
Central Coast left back Josh Rose almost made a spectacularbreakthrough six minutes later, with his curling long range shotshaving the right upright from a tight angle.
Pedj Bojic also came close with a 78th minute header whileMcBreen should have done better with another aerial chance secondslater.
And in keeping with the the theme of near-misses, substituteTroy Hearfield and McBreen saw two great chances go begging in thedying minutes.
Both Arnold and Wilkinson were unsure if the ball had crossedthe goalline during the first-half scramble but refused to use itas an excuse.
"We had enough chances to win five games," Arnold said.
"I thought overall it was a good performance, defensively agreat performance - we restricted them to basically nothing.
"Football-wise I thought we moved the ball around real well andgot into the areas we needed to get into but the final ball wascrap.
"That's pretty much what I just said to the boys.
"I felt any other night it could have been a much betterscoreline for us."
Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic was more happy to take a pointout of the match, and praised the likes of Kemp, Thomas, DannyAllsopp and Billy Celeski for filling the shoes of some of theabsentees.
"I'm happy considering we're missing five regulars. The boysthat came into the team really dug deep and played well," Durakovicsaid.
"I thought they did a great job."
Orignal From: Mariners rue nearmisses against Victory