A battling Western Sydney Wanderers scored a deserved but fortunate late equaliser to hold A-League leaders Sydney to a 1-1 draw in a fast-paced derby unlike any they have previously played.

Englishman Adam Le Fondre's 35th-minute tap-in looked set to earn Sydney maximum points on Saturday, but a dominant second-half effort from Wanderers was rewarded.

An 82nd-minute Simon Cox shot from outside the penalty area took a heavy deflection off Kwame Yeboah, which Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne had no chance of saving.

Cox and substitute Mo Adam went close for Wanderers in the last few minutes of a match watched live in 30 countries, many of which have suspended their own domestic competition due to coronavirus concerns.

Wanderers started the better of the two teams and also had a large portion of play in the second half of a game, played with typical derby intensity despite the absence of spectators.

Fans' noise that has been a feature of all previous Sydney derbies was missed, as only the voices of the players and those on the bench reverberated around the near-empty stadium.

Sydney moved eight points clear of second-placed Melbourne City, who have played two more games

Wanderers remain eighth, but the point moved them to within one spot of sixth.

"We caused them a lot of problems in possession of the ball, we had a lot of shots," Wanderers' coach Jean-Paul de Marigny said.

"They are a good side and I felt in the second half we had control of the game and they were there for the taking

"Just a little bit more quality in the last key pass or crosses, could have hurt them much more, but I thought without the ball the discipline and desire to win the contest was phenomenal."

Wanderers harried Sydney early with their high press, but couldn't turn that into shots on target.

Sydney worked their way into the game after the first 15 minutes as playmakers Milos Ninkovic and Alexander Baumjohann exerted more influence, though that waned after halftime

Both sides had a number of first-half shots, but Le Fondre pounced to score his 17th goal of the campaign, after Daniel Lopar pushed a Kosta Barbarouses shot into his path

Shots and chances were less frequent in the second half.

Wanderers' Daniel Georgievski curled a fierce shot just wide and Sydney substitute Harry Van Der Saag was off target on a rare attack by the visitors.

Sydney coach Steve Corica said his team defended too deep in the second half and wanted them play more balls in behind the Wanderers defence rather than to feet.

"We gave the ball away too easily, we just made the wrong decision at the wrong time," Corica said.

"I thought they were better than us in the second half. The first half we were very good, but we wanted to go on with that in the second half and we didn't get that."

Western Sydney won this season's two previous derbies 1-0 and are the only team Sydney have not beaten this season.