Western Sydney and Sydney FC have played out the first 0-0 Sydney derby in four years to open their A-League Men’s season.
Both teams showed signs of rust as the game wore on, with neither able to deliver a goal the boisterous crowd of 23,118 at Parramatta’s CommBank Stadium so desperately craved.
Despite some early energy, the rival sides struggled for clear-cut opportunities and when they did get them, it was the work of their respective goalkeepers that prevented an opening.
“I wouldn’t say it was rust,” Sky Blues coach Steve Corica said.
“I would say it’s the big derby and there’s a lot at stake in this game. We kept a clean sheet but we wanted to go on and win that game.”
“We huffed and puffed,” Wanderers coach Carl Robinson said.
“We turned the ball over too many times in midfield and our final pass or execution was just a little bit off it.
“Then when we did have an action, keeper made one or two good saves or we just missed the headers. It’s always an area we can improve on.”
Andrew Redmayne kept the Wanderers at bay, while opposing No.1 Tomas Mejias was solid on his ALM debut for Western Sydney.
WATCH: Tomás Mejías keeps the Sydney Derby level
Elvis Kamsoba, who was lively all night, gave the Sky Blues an early opportunity when he broke down the right and received the ball back from Milos Ninkovic after some rapid build-up play.
Kamsoba’s inch-perfect delivery found Trent Buhagiar whose header forced Mejias into action as he parried the ball over the bar.
Sydney seemed to enjoy the better of the opportunities when they stretched the Wanderers out wide with Kamsoba and Ninkovic.
But they nearly allowed Western Sydney to break the deadlock when Ninkovic lost the ball while attempting a backheel out of his own end.
Steve Ugarkovic latched onto the loose ball and had there been a better effort on goal from Dimi Petratos, the home side may have gone in at halftime with a 1-0 lead were it not for Redmayne.
Kamsoba and Adam Le Fondre, who was without usual strike partner Bobo due to a calf injury, both tested Mejias after the break as the Wanderers’ defence began to show signs of frailty, both in terms of cohesion and fitness.
Captain Rhys Williams and Adama Traore were booked as fatigue began to set in for the home side.
Kamsoba continued to act as a nuisance for the Wanderers’ back four and the introduction of Patrick Wood on the hour mark in place of Buhagiar gave Steve Corica’s side a bit more zip.
Wanderers coach Carl Robinson reacted accordingly, bringing former England international Jack Rodwell into the fray with 15 minutes to play.
Rodwell made an instant impact in the midfield, testing Andrew Redmayne from 30 yards with a lethal shot that forced a corner.
“I was pleased,” Robinson, speaking of Rodwell’s late cameo, added.
“He brought a bit of calmness to our game.
“If he had scored, you might have expected that every week.
“He had a chance with the header, but it’s just nice to see him on the field.”
WATCH: Jack Rodwell’s rocket from distance
The deflection from the ensuing corner also fell into Rodwell’s path but the 30-year-old snatched at the chance.
“I thought it was well in. It would have been a brilliant debut,” Rodwell told Network 10.
Tomer Hemed had a late chance but his chip over Redmayne found its way onto the roof of the net.