They may have only had a few months to come together but the Western Sydney Wanderers held their own in a 0-0 draw with last season's premiers Central Coast on Saturday
|By JOHN GRECO
Western Sydney Wanderers have begun life in the A-League with a well-earned point after playing out a 0-0 draw with Central Coast at a rain-soaked Parramatta Stadium on Saturday.
The competition new-boys may have only come together as a squad in the last few months but they more than held their own against last season's minor premiers.
In a game of few chances, it was Mariners goalkeeper Mathew Ryan who was forced into a couple of crucial saves to ensure the stalemate in front of more than 10,000 fans.
Japanese international Shinji Ono started on the bench and came on to a rousing reception on 59 minutes but he proved unable to unlock the Mariners defence during that time.
While it wasn't the fairytale start for Tony Popovic and his side there was plenty of encouraging signs and they appear able to be competitive in their debut season.
There wasn't much in terms of goalmouth action in the early stages as both sides adjusted to the slippery conditions, with the heavens opening just after kick-off.
Ryan did have to be alert to hold onto a dipping Mark Bridge strike on 14 minutes, while Aaron Mooy also tested the young number one with a swerving free-kick on the half-hour mark.
But the best chance of the first half fell to Wanderers attacker Labinot Haliti eight minutes before the break.
Jerome Polenz fed a delightful through ball for Dino Kresinger, who produced a neat touch for Haliti to be one-on-one with the shot-stopper.
Ryan was quick off his line and did well to get down low and smother Haliti's attempt away to safety.
The Mariners custodian had to bail his side out of trouble again less than two minutes into the second half.
Under pressure deep in his own half, Pedj Bojic played a wayward pass into the path of Bridge but his effort was too tame to trouble Ryan.
So limp for much of the first half, the Mariners eventually started to impose themselves on the game without carving out any real opportunities.
New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey did go close when he found some space to shoot from a narrow angle, stinging the palms of Ante Covic.
The home side had some nervy moments late on when the Mariners had three corners in a row before they almost pinched all three points themselves when Ryan again blocked away a Kresinger effort.