Central Coast extended its unbeaten A-League run to 12 matches but missed the chance to move to the top of the A-League ladder on Tuesday in Wellington.
Needing a win to leapfrog the first-placed Phoenix, the Mariners were held to a 0-0 draw by the hosts.
The Mariners – whose title defence has gathered significant momentum after four straight losses to start the season – finished the match strongly, with the in-form Angel Torres, midfielder Max Balard and fullback Mikael Doka all having late shots that failed to find the back of the net.
In front of their best home crowd of the season of 12,301, the Phoenix had been hopeful of celebrating Waitangi Day – New Zealand’s national day – with a win, which would have extended their lead at the top of the ladder to five points.
However, they rarely threatened, with a flying 44th-minute header from veteran attacker Kosta Barbarouses the closest the Phoenix came to scoring.
Wellington skipper Alex Rufer lamented his team’s failure to penetrate in attack.
“We were good with the ball, we were patient, but we just lacked the final product,” Rufer told Sky Sport.
“We’ll take the point. They’re a good team.”
Mariners captain Danny Vukovic said the teams “cancelled each other out”.
“Wellington are a great side,” the veteran goalkeeper said.
“They defend really well as a team. They battle for each other. I see a lot of similarities between both teams.”
The Mariners are in action again on Saturday night when they host Sydney FC.
The Phoenix also play on Saturday at home against cellar dwellers Western United.