Gold Coast United have broken their run of five successive defeats but remain rooted to the bottom of the Hyundai A-League ladder after playing out a dour scoreless draw with Sydney FC at a gloomy Skilled Park on Sunday.

Neither side reached any great heights but referee Ben Williams was kept busy, dishing out nine yellow cards - seven of which went to Sydney - in what was at times a spiteful affair.

While the hosts will be happy to have escaped with their first point since October, the Sky Blues were on the back foot for most of the match and failed to carry on the momentum built when they ended Brisbane's record undefeated streak last weekend.

They could have jumped as high as second place with a win but instead remain in fourth position, while United are still four points behind their nearest rivals Adelaide.

Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg made good on his promise to field an experienced XI, with Dutch imports Maceo Rigters, Paul Beekmans and Peter Jungschlager all starting while Sydney went in unchanged.

Played mere minutes after a heavy storm bucketed monsoon-like rain across south-east Queensland, both sides were presented with a greasy deck - and it showed.

On balance, Gold Coast had the better opportunities in what was a cagey first half but poor finishing kept them from edging ahead.

The chance of the half fell to Rigters, who was played in by Ben Halloran in the 42nd minute but dragged his shot from inside the box horribly wide of the target.

While Rigters was rusty at times, Halloran was one of United's best in the first half, his pace and energy on the right flank one of their favoured avenues to goal.

Cutting onto his left foot after another mazy run in the 27th minute, the youngster had a chance to open his A-League account but sprayed his shot.

Ivorian flyer Adama Traore had another crack in the 36th minute, testing Liam Reddy with a stinging shot after pouncing on a spilled ball at the back from Michael Beauchamp - but the Sky Blues shotstopper was able to tip it wide.

The action finally heated up for the visitors six minutes into the second half, when Karol Kisel forced a quality reflex save from Glen Moss with his thumping first-time shot from the edge of the area after a clever cutback from Dimi Petratos.

An unmarked Kisel had another golden chance in the 65th minute but fluffed his lines with his free header after he was found by a Shannon Cole cross.

United substitute Chris Harold came on a minute later for Dylan Macallister and had an almost immediate impact, dodging a challenge from Pascal Bosschaart before cannoning his shot directly into Reddy.

Halloran was quick to jump onto the scraps but somehow his diving shot was blocked by Cole, and the Sky Blues escaped unpunished.

With nine minutes to go they nearly pinched the three points through Nick Carle, who unleashed a wicked drive from the top of the box - but Moss held his nerve and made an important save.

Chances came and went for the rest of the match but to their credit, both goalkeepers performed well in trying conditions and sturdy work from Reddy and Moss ensured the spoils would be split.

Gold Coast United 0
Sydney FC 0
Crowd: 2984 at Skilled Park