MANLY United FC were left pondering what may have been following a 0-0 stalemate with Rockdale at Cromer Park on Sunday afternoon.
Both teams entered the clash desperate for three points after consecutive defeats, and the home side did everything but find the back of the net in what was a gripping contest.
On nine minutes United went close to taking the lead.
Adam Parkhouse whipped in a corner to the near post with his left foot, but striker Chris Payne headed over the half chance.
Four minutes later Brendan Cholakian tried his luck with a free kick, but Suns keeper David Bradasevic comfortably dealt with the effort.
Moments later Payne found himself with only Bradasevic to beat, but cannoned his effort on to the post.
With 17′ minutes played it was that man Bradasevic who once again came to Rockdale’s rescue.
Showing cat like reflexes, he tipped a goal bound effort from Daniel Bragg over the crossbar after seeing it late.
United captain Graeme Forbes was the next player to almost find the back of the net.
Daniel Saric pinged a corner into a great area and Forbes reacted first, acrobatically sending a bicycle kick over the woodwork from six yards.
The visitors were next to have the crowd on their feet following a classic sucker punch on the counter.
Nikola Taneski found himself in acres of room, but young Manly gloveman Tonu Liiband made himself a big target and the striker couldn’t beat him in the area.
38′ minutes in Saric delivered a teasing ball from the right flank, but Parkhouse lacked composure, completely missing the ball which was begging to be lashed home.
Suns boss Branko Culina no doubt gave his team a gobful at the break, as they started the second half a different unit.
Taneski scored have scored following a Manly mistake after 52′ minutes, but Liiband brilliantly denied him.
With an hour played Bragg should have scored the game’s opening goal.
Parkhouse played a ball in from the left and after taking a touch, the ex Gold Coast United midfielder blazed over from 12 yards.
Culina emptied his bench in the last half an hour in search of a winner, but it was United who kept banging on the door.
Substitute Matt Castelnuovo should have scored for the hosts with his first touch on 83′ minutes but snatched at the chance and Payne couldn’t find a way past an inspired Bradasevic seconds later.
Taneski almost grabbed what would have been an undeserved three points at the death, but after skipping past two players with ease, skewed an effort wide of the target.
Speaking at full time, Forbes couldn’t quite believe his team didn’t win their first game of 2015.
"It is incredibly frustrating, we battered them to be honest,” he said.
"The final product was all we lacked – we have a short turnaround before we play (Blacktown) Spartans this Friday at home, so we will train hard and push for three points.
"Hopefully it goes our way and from there we can go on a bit of a run."
Culina conceded his team got out of jail.
"We were poor, but I suppose at least we go home with a point,” the coach said.
"I thought we looked unfit, Manly seemed to win every second ball.
"Every time you play them, you know it is going to be physical and a grinding affair.
"We have a few boys to come back which will help us, but we are a long way off from where I expected us to be after three games."
Manly United FC 0
Rockdale City Suns 0
Sunday March 29, 2015
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Christian Layland, Matthew McOrist
Fourth Official: Brendan Lovric
Manly United FC: Liiband; Forbes, Parkhouse, Payne, (Morrissey 89′) Bragg, Cholakian, Saric, (Castelnuovo 82′) Lobb, Paull, Beuchat, (Ferguson 59′) Williams
Substitutes not used: Catlin, Oughtred
Yellow cards: Bragg 19′, Forbes 44′, Cholakian 49′, Saric 67′, Ferguson 90′
Rockdale City: Bradasevic; Alameddine, (P Savor 62′) El Hafiane, Giannaros, Iwamoto, (Tanoski 62′) Jesic, Makrys, Taneski, Petrillo, Urosevski, (I Savor 73′) Murayama
Substitutes not used: Petrillo, Dubocanin
Yellow cards: Murayama 56′, Taneski 63′
3 – Bradasevic (RCS)
2 – Payne (MU)
1 – Lobb (MU)