Melbourne City blow ALM chance in Newcastle stalemate

Melbourne City stand-in coach Raffaele Napoli has lamented his side's lack of cutting edge after they squandered the chance to move back into the A-League Men top-six in an ill-tempered stalemate with Newcastle.

Under assistant Napoli's temporary guidance, with head coach Aurelio Vidmar out of action because of illness, City desperately needed three points against the languishing Jets at AAMI Park.

But the home side couldn't find a way past resolute Newcastle goalkeeper Ryan Scott in the 0-0 draw, missing out on what would have been a third straight win.

City remain seventh on the ladder, four points behind fifth-placed Sydney FC after their 2-0 win over Central Coast later on Saturday and one adrift of Western Sydney.

Newcastle stay 11th, winless in nine matches in a streak dating back more than two months.

Scott had a huge hand in the result, brilliantly denying Max Caputo's second-half volley at close range, before Steven Ugarkovic sent a follow-up shot wide with the gaping net at his mercy.

The Newcastle gloveman again came to his side's rescue in the sixth minute of added time, tipping Jamie Maclaren's header over the bar.

Ryan Scott.
Ryan Scott launches the Jets into attack at AAMI Park. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

City, who put seven goals past the Wanderers in their previous outing, had 19 shots overall and nine on target against the Jets but failed to find a breakthrough.

"We definitely had enough opportunities and enough possession to win the game but we probably lacked a little bit of cutting edge in the final third at times," Napoli said.

"We've been pretty efficient in the last two games and that's been a little bit the story of our season - a bit inconsistent.

"But all in all the lads were terrific. Their effort, intensity, desire ... they did everything that we asked from them.

"And considering that Viddy (Vidmar) wasn't here, it wasn't easy for the players."

The flashpoint in a fiery encounter came when City winger Leo Natel tangled with Callum Timmins and appeared to headbutt Kosta Grozos in the ensuing argument.

Natel was lucky to survive a video review of the second-half incident, which sparked a melee between the sides that held up play for several minutes.

Leo Natel and Kosta Grozos.
Leo Natel and Kosta Grozos get in each others personal space in Melbourne. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Napoli called Socceroos attacker Mathew Leckie and club captain Maclaren off the bench after the break, but neither could capitalise on City's dominance to find a match-winning goal.

It was Leckie's first appearance since February 24 because of soreness associated with earlier knee and hamstring injuries and then illness.

Newcastle midfielder Daniel Wilmering forced Jamie Young into a late diving save with a left-footed drive from long range, but it was one of few clear-cut chances for the visitors.

It was a fifth draw in the Jets' winless run against a backdrop of ongoing uncertainty around the club's future.

"I was really happy with the boys - their resilience and the way they applied themselves," Newcastle coach Rob Stanton said.

"They stood up for themselves. It was a top performance, a top effort, and I think it showed some great character and good progression from a young team."