Birthday boy Bolton saves Sydney

Sydney FC may have failed to secure all three points against the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford today, but birthday boy, Clint Bolton delivered his side a perfect present, pulling off a spectacular penalty save in the dying minutes of the match to maintain the Sky Blues undefeated start to the season.


Sydney FC may have failed to secure all three points against the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford today, but birthday boy, Clint Bolton delivered his side a perfect present, pulling off a spectacular penalty save in the dying minutes of the match to maintain the Sky Blues undefeated start to the season.

With the tense encounter seemingly destined to end in a goalless draw, referee Strebre Delovski blew a penalty for a challenge on John Hutchinson but Bolton kept his nerve and denied Adam Kwasnik the winning goal with a diving save to his right.

“I was confident I was going to save it,” said the 34-year old after the match. “I had it in my mind to go that way. It was just one of those days - a good birthday present.”

The Mariners- tall timber set out to test the Sydney defence from the opening whistle as they pressed forward in attack but it was the Sky Blues who laid claim to the best chance of the early exchanges when Alex Brosque cleverly drew a diving save from Danny Vukovic in the 4th minute of the game.

The energetic start continued and Vukovic was again called into the action soon after - a long-range effort from Kofi Danning took a nasty deflection off a defender and required urgent attention from the Central Coast custodian.

The home side looked to take every opportunity on the counter-attack, but Sydney continued to dictate terms, without creating any clear chances. In the 37th minute that changed. Some great possession play from Brosque opened the door for Karol Kisel but the Slovakian midfielder couldn-t control the dropping cross and fired his volley over the bar.

Perhaps the best opportunity came in the 40th minute. Stephan Keller pressed forward for a corner and found himself free on the far post but the Swiss defender-s header failed to find the target.

Next up it was the Mariners- chance to threaten. A turnover from the Sydney defence in the 44th minute sent Adam Kwasnik on the attack but his shot was well wide - then with the last play of the first period a diving Shannon Cole diffused a dangerous Central Coast cross to maintain the stalemate heading into the break.

The second half started in willing fashion for both sides and ten minutes after the restart Brosque almost broke the deadlock, heading onto the crossbar from an inch-perfect Sung Hwan Byun corner.

Fresh from his goal scoring heroics against Adelaide last week, Mark Bridge entered the fray on the hour for Captain, Steve Corica and instantly had the home defence on its toes. It was John Aloisi who should have opened the scoring on 76 minutes, however. A corner from Kisel spilled forward to the striker but his point-blanks shot was brilliantly blocked by the forearm of the Mariners- keeper, Vukovic, who knew little about the reflexive effort.

Five minutes later it was the hosts who should arguably have posted the opening goal. A quick break out of defence put substitute, Dylan MacCallister on goal but pressure from Simon Colosimo and the cool judgement of birthday boy, Clint Bolton saw the shot slide harmlessly wide.

The intensity continued to build as the full-time whistle approached then Hutchinson-s run brought about Bolton-s big moment.

After the keeper-s heroics against Kwasnik, Sydney almost stole the game when a fast break finished on the boot of Terry McFlynn, but his 91st minute scorcher was marginally off the mark.

The Mariners weren-t done either and again Bolton had to be at his best to repel their final throw of the dice. With seconds remaining in the match Central Coast streamed forward but the Sydney custodian denied MacCallister on the near post in stunning style and the contest ended in a nil-all draw.

“It was tough game, we expect that,” assessed Sydney FC Coach, Vitezslav Lavicka. “We were very close to win, and very close to lose as well. Now we are concentrating for Wellington next week.

Sydney FC will face the Phoenix next weekend when it returns to the Sydney Football Stadium for its second home game of the Hyundai A-League season. The round-4 clash kicks off at the SFS at 5pm on Sunday afternoon.

Match Detail

Central Coast Mariners 0 Sydney FC 0

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Bradley PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matthew SIMON, 21. Ahmed ELRICH (11. Dylan MACALLISTER 65-), 23. Adam KWASNIK.

Substitutes Not Used: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 9. Nik MRDJA, 22. Nicky TRAVIS.

Yellow Cards: John HUTCHINSON 77-. Red Cards: nil. Goals: nil.

Sydney FC: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 3. Stephan KELLER, 4. Simon COLOSIMO, 6. Karol KISEL, 9. John ALOISI, 10. Steve CORICA (c) (19. Mark BRIDGE 59-), 11. Kofi DANNING (7. Brendan GAN 74-), 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry MCFLYNN, 22. Sung Hwan BYUN.

Substitutes Not Used: 17. Matthew JURMAN, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk).

Yellow Cards: Sung Hwan BYUN 29-, Karol KISEL 78-. Red Cards: nil. Goals: nil.

Referee: Strebre Delovski Crowd: 10,029 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford.