Leaders Sydney drop points in scoreless draw against Perth
If Sydney FC fans were hoping for a spectacular showing before what might be the last chance to see live football in the near future, they would be sadly disappointed as the A-League champions turned in an unusually flat showing at home in a scoreless draw with Perth.
In the end, runaway leaders Sydney FC did enough to win Saturday evening's contest at Kogarah, notably with two late glaring misses, but the Glory could easily have bagged all three points after a strong second-half showing.
A modest crowd of 4,099 braved the heavy cloud and light rain in Sydney's south, but the grand-final rematch at Jubilee Oval barely moved out of first gear for much of the time.
VAR spared Glory blushes midway through the first half after Neil Kilkenny and Liam Reddy conspired to turn over possession in the penalty area, but Luke Brattan's prodded finish was rubbed out on review for handball.
Gilt-edged openings in the dying minutes were spurned by substitute Trent Buhagiar and the normally reliable Milos Ninkovic.
"We came up against a very good opponent tonight in Perth, and we had enough chances to win the game, especially those last two chances," Sydney FC coach Steve Corica said. "It is difficult to play when it is not a big crowd. It's understandable that people stayed away."
Perth, who were pushed down to fifth in the table by Brisbane's win on Friday, were not without their own chances to pick up their first win over the Sky Blues in 14 meetings.
The Glory had good moments in attack and defence and looked to be finding some form after an indifferent spell, one which had produced just one win from the past six outings.
"Result-wise, it is a good point for us," Glory coach Tony Popovic said. "We tried to come here, be positive, and get a result.
"We created enough openings and just needed to show a little bit more composure around the box."
The round is likely to be the last to be played in front of spectators in the short term amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Sydney FC require no more than three wins in the final seven matches but the future of the competition remains unclear, particularly with complications around Wellington's options before tough New Zealand arrival restrictions take effect.
"We don't want the league to stop, but I suppose whatever the FFA decides is the best thing," Corica said. "We want to finish the season and win it [Premiership] the right way.
"It wouldn't be right to just cancel the season. Maybe it can just be postponed if it came to that, but that has to be worked out."