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Mar, 2, 2012

Roar still A-League team to beat: Heart

The hand of fate - or more specifically Clint Bolton - denied Brisbane Roar a chance to reclaim the A-League ladder lead.

But after watching from the best seat in the house, Melbourne Heart keeper Bolton says the defending champions are still the team to beat for the championship.

Bolton's heroics ensured a 1-1 draw at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night as Brisbane missed a golden chance to leapfrog Central Coast for top spot - albeit on goal difference.

The Roar looked set to secure their fifth straight win when striker Besart Berisha was felled by Simon Colosimo and referee Ryan Shepheard pointed to the penalty spot in stoppage time.

However, surprise choice Mohamed Adnan's effort was swatted away by a diving Bolton.

Bolton admitted he made the most of regular Roar penalty taker Henrique's absence due to suspension and got into Adnan's head before the fateful kick.

His stalling tactics did appear to throw Adnan before Bolton guessed right to save the kick in a spectacular effort.

"I love the big occasion," Bolton said.

"When the penalty was given my first thought was that we have just thrown this away.

"But I refocused. I thought how could I get into his head.

"I made sure I stalled it as much as I could - I didn't think it was on the penalty spot from my angle.

"So I said that to the ref and fair enough."

While Bolton relished playing mind games with Adnan, it was the Roar who were doing the Heart keeper's head in during the match.

"Obviously this is the best team in the league," he said.

"They were relentless. It seemed they were buzzing all over the park.

"It was daunting to begin with but slowly we were able to sort it out and in the second half we had the upper hand for a lot of it.

"But you could feel them coming over the top of us."

Heart coach John van 't Schip said the draw "felt like a win" and expected his fifth-placed side to make some noise in the run to the finals.

"In my opinion the Roar are still the favourite for the championship - but we have closed the gap from last season," he said.

Meanwhile, Roar coach Ange Postecoglou was not going to lose sleep over their missed chance.

Indeed he has bigger fish to fry with Brisbane starting their Asian Champions League campaign on Tuesday against FC Tokyo.

"You only look at missed opportunities at the end of the year when you look at the ladder," he said.

He also played down a groin complaint to Mitch Nichols which forced his strike weapon off in the first half.

"He was feeling a bit tight. We decided to take him off. We've got a few games left," he said.

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