MARQUEE man Nicky Carle wasn't enough to inspire Sydney FC to victory at the Festival of Football, playing out a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Rangers at a rain-soaked SFS.
Carle, in his first start for Sydney since joining the club from Crystal Palace in the off-season, played only the opening 45 minutes as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Sky Blues coach Vitezslav Lavicka would have been glad to see his star signing running freely and getting involved in some game time with the A-League season opener against Melbourne Victory just 10 days away.
The 28-year-old showed glimpses of his sublime skill but had few opportunities in an attacking sense on a waterlogged pitch after a deluge of rain in Sydney throughout the day.
While Sydney weren't able to give their home fans a win against the Scottish champions, they will take heart from a much improved performance from their 5-3 loss to AEK Athens on Sunday.
The Sky Blues were forced to play without key striker Alex Brosque who was not risked after picking up a foot injury against the Greek side on the weekend and his pace and creativity was sorely missed.
After an opening 15 minutes that saw both teams play some neat football without creating any real openings, it was Sydney that brought the small but vocal crowd of almost 10,000 to life with the first shot on goal.
A nice build up through midfield finished with Shannon Cole crossing to Mark Bridge on the edge of the box and the Sydney striker did well to turn his marker before firing off a shot with his left foot but it was straight at Rangers keeper Neil Alexander.
Rangers winger Kyle Lafferty provided the visitors' major highlight of the opening 45 minutes, beating five Sydney defenders on a mazy run down the left only to waste his final pass to Steven Naismith.
But that was about as good as it got in a dour first half where defence dominated for both sides.
The first 20 minutes of the second half followed a similar vein before the game sprung to life with a chance for both sides in the space of a minute.
First, Rangers almost opened the scoring when USA international Maurice Edu met Steven Davis's free kick with a powerful header that drew a brilliant save from Liam Reddy down low to his right.
While Reddy, who is in a battle with Ivan Necevski for Sydney's No.1 jersey, didn't have much to do throughout the 90 minutes he looked assured in everything that was required and may have played his way into Lavicka's starting side for the season-opener next month.
Then less than 60 seconds later Sydney's Senegalese trialist Iyane Thiam, a half-time substitute for Mark Bridge, found the ball at his feet on the left-hand side of the box and he tried an audacious chip for the far corner which Alexander parried away.
It was a close as any side came in the closing stages as free-flowing football became too difficult on the rapidly deteriorating pitch.
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