WINLESS Melbourne Heart had to settle for a 0-0 draw against reigning A-League champions Central Coast despite dominating the stalemate at Bluetongue Stadium on Sunday.
The Mariners lost Japan-bound midfielder Michael McGlinchey on the morning of the match due to a virus as John van't Schip's first game of his second spell in charge of the Heart saw the red and whites enjoy most of the chances in the match.
However the Heart still haven't won in 18 fixtures and are adrift of second-bottom Wellington by eight points while the Mariners' point gives them sole possession of third spot on the ladder.
But the performance was a disappointing one from Central Coast in front of 8062 fans.
McGlinchey's match-day withdrawal coupled with the loss of Marcos Flores during the week to a season-ending knee injury meant Nick Fitzgerald and Mile Sterjovski were promoted to the starting team.
Van't Schip made one change with Iain Ramsay promoted in place of forward David Williams.
Influential Heart skipper Harry Kewell provided the best entertainment for the crowd in the opening half.
The former Leeds United man provided the final pass for what should have been the game's opening goal after 14 minutes.
After piercing the Mariners defence, Kewell's delivery was wasted when Michael Mifsud slid the ball past Liam Reddy only for the easy chance to hit the left hand post before it was cleared by Zac Anderson.
Playing with the advantage of a decent breeze the Heart had another chance within six minutes but the wind and Ramsay's aerial strike took Mate Dugandzic's cross over the bar.
The Mariners' best chance in the first period came in the 28th minute from Kiwi Storm Roux but the long-range strike was easily taken by Heart goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.
Twice in the final 13 minutes of the half Kewell and Mifsud combined for two chances to break the deadlock.
A 32nd-minute left-foot delivery via 35-year-old Kewell from the right channel was just out of reach of Mifsud as Trent Sainsbury got a touch to clear the ball out for the Mariners and before the break Kewell split the Mariners defence with a cross from the left this time only for Mifsud to be out of position for a decent attempt on goal.
Mariners striker Mitchell Duke was often isolated in attack for the home side as the Heart continued to have the better of the early stages of the second stanza but without really threatening on goal until Mifsud beat two Mariners defenders in the 59th minute on the edge of the area only to see his deflected shot saved by Reddy.
Three minutes later the Mariners fans were on their feet as a diving header from Nick Montgomery went just wide as the midfielder was unable to finish off Sterjovski's right-foot cross.
That attempt sprung Phil Moss' team to life as they enjoyed their best period in attack.
Defender Joshua Rose couldn't keep his shot down after substitute Matt Simon provided a pass when he could have had a shot himself in the 68th minute.
The 78th-minute injection of Anthony Caceres in the midfield in place of Montgomery failed to spark the yellow and navy as a Kewell volley from a Heart corner went over the crossbar eight minutes before time.
A late Mariners chance from outside the penalty area via Duke blasted across the face of goal as the two sides completed a stalemate as Gosford.
Central Coast Mariners 0
Melbourne Heart 0
Crowd: 8062 @ Bluetongue Stadium