Wellington Phoenix remain unbeaten this A-League season after claiming a 1-1 draw against defending champions Brisbane Roar.
Both goals came in the first half with neither side able to land the killer blow, with few chances created in a dull second half.
Striker Stein Huysegems continued his solid start to his Phoenix career to open the scoring in the 16th minute with a well-taken goal before Besart Berisha finished nicely to grab the equaliser six minutes before the break.
The Phoenix dominated the opening 20 minutes, starving the defending champions of the ball and pressing forward at every opportunity.
Manny Muscat again worked tirelessly in midfield as the Phoenix initially kept the Roar’s impressive midfielders Eric Paartalu and Massimo Murdocca quiet.
Paul Ifill, Ben Sigmund and Jeremy Brockie had half-chances early on to put the home side in front before Huysegems broke the deadlock just after the quarter-hour mark.
A great floated ball to the top of the box from the right by Ifill was trapped by Louis Fenton, who then laid it off for his Belgian teammate to fire left-footed past Michael Theo.
Only the fingertips of the Roar keeper prevented the Phoenix doubling their lead two minutes later after Shane Stefanutto had been booked for hauling Fenton back just outside the ball. Ifill’s curling free-kick was just tipped over the crossbar.
The Phoenix playmaker spurned another good chance in the 28th minute when he won the ball from Stefanutto but then scuffed his shot giving Theo an easy save.
From then on though, the Roar began to take control. They finally started stringing passes together, opening up gaps and making good inroads down their right flank through Jack Hingert, Ben Halloran and Mitch Nichols which created better opportunities for Berisha.
The Albanian striker could have levelled the scores in the 30th minute only to turn and fire straight at Mark Paston. Nichols then saw his effort stopped by the Phoenix keeper’s legs.
But the pressure finally told on the Phoenix defence, who were without central lynchpin Andrew Durante, and Berisha equalised with a well-taken chip over Paston after Murdocca’s through ball had put him clear.
The second half was scrappy with much of the play taking place in the middle third of the field and neither keeper was overly troubled.
On the hour a Thomas Broich free-kick was finally scrambled away by the Phoenix before Brockie fired his shot wide eight minutes later.
A couple of late corners to the Phoenix got the home fans excited but Theo punched clear on both occasions and the teams had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Bet365 Man of the MatchPaul Ifill – Was simply electric in the first 45 and when the pressure was on he stood tall for the Phoenix
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Huysegems 16)
Brisbane Roar 1 (Berisha 39)