Melbourne Victory and Geelong battled out a 0-0 draw in the NPL2 West on Sunday.
Despite creating numerous chances, neither team was able to find a breakthrough in cold conditions at Epping Stadium.
Victory pushed hard in the closing stages but had to settle for a point, extending its unbeaten run to five matches.
The first chance of the game fell to Geelong, but Victory goalkeeper Branko Skocic, 20, brilliantly tipped over a close-range effort after a throw-in from the right.
In what was a relatively even start, the visitor continued to push, Skocic standing firm to deny Matthew Townley from close range in the 26th minute.
Victory’s best opportunity in the opening 45 minutes came approaching the half-hour mark through Jack Palazzolo, 19.
Stefan Ristic’s cross from the left found the attacker at the back post, but Geelong goalkeeper Dylan Nikolovski scrambled to push away the header.
Victory created a great chance early in the second half, but Daniel Aye, 19, fired wide in a one-on-one with Nikolovski after being played in by Palazzolo.
At the other end, Skocic dived to his left to push away a Luis Covarrubias strike from distance.
Victory enjoyed the better of the final half-hour, going close in the 74th minute as Palazzolo fired straight at Nikolovski after a brilliant run by Brandon Lauton, 19.
After Nuh Sehavdic, 19, put a chance over the crossbar from close range under pressure, Skocic was called into action again, tipping over a powerful Louis Bentley strike in the 84th minute in an end-to-end finish.
Head coach Gareth Naven’s post-match thoughts
“I thought that our team could’ve played a lot quicker in the first half, in regards to moving the ball, just our general speed in getting the ball in play, dead-ball situations, setting up, doing things earlier, playing at our tempo, not so much the opposition tempo. We need more polish on how we use our technique when trying to penetrate, whether we’re delivering a pass or our first touch, it’s an area we need to get better at and the players, hopefully, would agree with that as well. When we do it well, it makes a whole lot of difference in regards to what we produce at the end of it.
“In the second half, I thought we definitely stayed in the match, created some opportunities, Palazzolo could’ve nicked it away, Sehavdic could’ve nicked it away as well, but happy they stayed in the fight, didn’t open the game, learned to manage the match and learned to finish the match off which is an important step for our youth players.”
NPL2 West 2019 Round 18
Melbourne Victory 0
Melbourne Victory: Branko Skocic (gk); Brandon Lauton, Benjamin Carrigan (c), Matthew Bozinovski, So Nishikawa; Thierry Iradukunda, Jack Morton; Jack Palazzolo (Yazid Said), Stefan Ristic, Daniel Aye (Andrew Visciglio); Nuh Sehavdic (Liston Diaz).
Victory’s league-leading under-20s were held to a 2-2 draw by Geelong.