The Hyundai A-League Finals Series may still be four weeks away, but Melbourne Heart FC goalkeeper Clint Bolton says he got an early taste of playoff action during Friday ’s pulsating 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.
The Hyundai A-League Finals Series may still be four weeks away, but Melbourne Heart FC goalkeeper Clint Bolton says he got an early taste of playoff action during Friday -s pulsating 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.
For the second week in succession, Bolton emerged the hero in a clash with a top two side, making a decisive penalty save in injury time to earn Heart a share of the points against the competition-s form side.
Bolton, 35, has entered a rich vain of form in recent weeks, proving the old adage goalkeepers seemingly improve with age.
While the former Socceroo has yet to commit to another season in the Hyundai A-League, the cries for his return will undoubtedly heighten following another vintage display.
However, in the short term, Bolton remains keenly focused on another finals campaign, as he looks to inspire Heart into the playoffs for the first time in its history.
And according to the four-time Australian Champion, on Friday night, Heart experienced first hand what awaits the side should it round off the regular season in the top six.
“I love the big occasion, I love the big moment and that felt like a finals type atmosphere in that final 10 minutes,” he said.
There was no bigger moment during the 90 minutes than Bolton-s save to deny Sayed Mohamed Adnan; in retrospect ensuring Heart retained fifth spot on the table.
Although Bolton is renowned as one of Australia-s premier penalty stoppers, memorably making a critical save during the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 decider, the Bundaberg-born star revealed he felt no pressure facing the pivotal moment.
Instead, Bolton, providing an insight into a goalkeeper-s psyche in such situations, said his overriding emotion was a sense of frustration Heart had potentially thrown a point away.
“When the pen is given away in injury time the first thought is that we’ve just thrown this one away; we’ve worked hard to get in position – we had a really good chance to go up 2-1 through Eli (Babalj) – so it just felt like we’d just thrown it away,” he said.
“But then you just refocus… your head gets back to business and you start figuring how do I get into his head and figuring the best way to approach the pen.”
“It’s the big occasion and it’s on his back, the pressure is on him, I just have to do my best to get a hand on it and if I don’t nobody remembers that.”