Mariners grip on top loosens

Central Coast has missed a chance to consolidate top spot on the National Youth League table after its 0-0 draw against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday.

Central Coast has missed a chance to consolidate top spot on the National Youth League table after its 0-0 draw against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday.

The result means the Mariners only have a two-point buffer over second-placed Perth Glory who now have the chance to overtake Central Coast when they take on Melbourne Victory in Epping on Sunday.

The Reds are now four points clear in fourth spot.

Both teams had opportunities to break the deadlock throughout the 90 minutes but neither side had the finishing skills to collect the three points.

Adelaide had the best chance of the contest - a Matthew Mullen penalty kick in the 24th minute - but it was stopped by Mariners goalkeeper Mathew Ryan who dived to his left to execute the save.

United coach Joe Mullen said the draw was a fair result.

"I thought it was a bit of a scrappy game, a bit of a battle. They are certainly a good, strong, physical side and I thought we competed well in that regard which is not normally the way we like to play ... and probably the biggest positive for us today was the clean sheet," he said.

The sides played out an entertaining first half but both would have been frustrated to be without a goal in the opening 45 minutes.

Central Coast got on the front foot early and had two excellent opportunities in the opening 16 minutes.

Gavin Forbes was on the end of a corner kick but his header from close range was parried away by a quick-thinking Mark Birighitti.

Moments later his captain Panagiotis Nikas unleashed a wonder strike from 30 metres which was too good for Birighitti but cannoned into the crossbar and rebounded away from the danger zone.

It took a while for the Reds to find their best form but they warmed to the task as the match progressed.

Robbie Cornthwaite had a chance from close range but went left of the target while Evan Kostopoulos was brought down in the box and earned the Reds the penalty.

A wasted Matthew Lewis run for the Mariners and a blocked free kick from the Reds closing in on half-time saw both sides enter the break with plenty of optimism.

Nikas' free kicks in the early stages of the second half caused some more concern for Birighitti and when Mitchell Mallia tested him again from close range the Mariners were pressing hard for the lead.

But the Reds were determined to get something out of the contest and continued to attack.

A Joel Allwright cross in the 83rd minute was almost finished by Kostopoulos and the following corner kick was almost headed home from Dane Milovanovic.

Central Coast then chimed in with a couple corners during injury time but they were left unfulfilled too.

Adelaide United 0 Central Coast Mariners 0 @ Hindmarsh Stadium