Bolton saves Sydney's bacon
Sydney FC coach Terry Butcher admitted goalkeeper Clint Bolton
saved his team's bacon against Central Coast on Sunday.
The reigning A-League champions made a winning start to their title defence in front of a crowd of 19,274 at Aussie Stadium, triumphing 1-0 in a carbon-copy result of last season's grand final against the Mariners.
Defender Iain Fyfe sealed the win with his maiden A-League goal in the 51st minute, but Butcher, who admitted Sydney did not play well, was in no doubt about who the hero was.
"I thought (Central Coast) worked very hard, made it very difficult for us, and had some great chances, and but for (Bolton) we would have possibly lost the match," said Butcher after his first game in charge of Sydney.
"In the end he's saved our bacon and made sure we got the three points and off to a good start."Bolton, who earned his fourth Socceroos cap in this month's Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait, pulled off two miraculous saves to twice deny Mariners striker Adam Kwasnik.
In the 21st minute, a falling Bolton showed great reflexes to flick Kwasnik's strong header from two metres to safety with his left mit.
Then with his side in front, the A-League's premier 'keeper again got his body in perfect position to deny Kwasnik's short-range effort in the 76th minute and cap a five-star performance.
Of the first save, Bolton said: "On another day it goes in, I got a bit of luck, I sort of tripped just at the moment he headed it."
Before adding about the second: "I thought it was goal, I was caught on the other side of the goal, and fortunately he just hit it straight at me and somehow it stayed out."
After watching his side create a host of good chances only to lose in similar circumstances to the inaugural grand final, Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna paid tribute to Bolton's brilliance as well as lamenting his side's lack of "killer instinct" up front.
"I was reasonably well pleased how we played, we just need to get that killer instinct, we're creating chances ... but against a team like Sydney you can't afford to not take your chances," said McKinna, who lost veteran striker Stewart Petrie to injury before kick off.
After both sides created several chances in the first half, Fyfe hammered home the only goal of the game six minutes after the break.
Sydney skipper Dwight Yorke, who only returned to training last week after three weeks out with a groin injury, played the entire game in his first outing since the World Cup in June
"I thought he was a different class tonight," Butcher said of Yorke, who played a holding midfield role.
"For a man that's not played a game for two and half months, and really done hardly any training, I thought he was immense.
Adding to the Mariners injury concerns, midfield general Andre Gumprecht is in doubt for next weekend with a hamstring injury, with 'keeper Danny Vukovic struggling with a hip-flexor problem.