Victory draw with Wellington

The first mid-week encounter of the Hyundai A-League season has delivered a scoreless draw between Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park on Wednesday.

The first mid-week encounter of the Hyundai A-League season has delivered a scoreless draw between Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park on Wednesday.

It was the Victory's third consecutive unbeaten result at home, and was also the Phoenix's first point on the road this campaign.

It was Nick Ward's first match against his old side, and he was in the thick of action early as the pre-dominantly Victory crowd of 11,513 ensured he had a tough 90 minutes.

The match also marked Billy Celeski's comeback start since injuring his knee last year, and the starting debut of youngster Diogo Ferreira, who matched up on dangerous front-man Paul Ifill and nullified Phoenix's prolific scorer.

Second-half substitute in Sunday's 3-0 thrashing of the Brisbane Roar, Tom Pondeljak earned a start in Ernie Merrick's side, as he and Celeski replaced Mate Dugandzic and Geoff Kellaway, who both came off the bench late in the affair.

Victory's best chance to score came late in the match when Kellaway was one-on-one with goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, but the on-coming keeper blocked the striker's shot and the danger was cleared for the visitors.

Another glorious chance for the Victory came with 20 minutes remaining when Ricardinho, in the same corner of the ground he miraculously scored against Brisbane, almost found the back of the net again when he tried to chip Vukovic, who was forced into the save.

The Brazilian's chance came just after Tim Brown fired a long-range shot which had goalkeeper Michael Petkovic scrambling, as both sides opened up offensively searching for the full three points.

A largely-ineffective Pondeljak was substituted for youngster Dugandzic just before the hour mark, in the hope to inject some life into Melbourne's forward third.

He did that almost immediately, going on a dazzling run, before laying off to Carlos Hernandez, who fired a shot on target, which was saved by Vukovic.

Phoenix striker Mirjan Pavlovic came on for Chris Greenacre in the final 15 minutes, in a clear sign of Ricki Herbert's intentions to try and go for all three points.

Pavlovic had a chance to break the deadlock late, but blew his shot across goal under pressure from two Victory defenders.

Wellington had the best scoring chance of the opening half, when Ifill's cross found Greenacre in the box, whose shot required Petkovic to tip over the bar for a corner.

Earlier on, the visitors came close to scoring from a fourth-minute free-kick taken by Ifill, who fired in a long ball to the far post which came off defender Surat Sukha and was on target before Petkovic's quick reaction saved an own-goal.

Melbourne Victory 0 Wellington Phoenix 0