Clint Bolton has saved his team on countless occasions. Photo: Getty Images
MELBOURNE Heart coach John Aloisi will stick with veteran goalkeeper Clint Bolton and backs the former Socceroo to bounce back in Saturday night's derby with Melbourne Victory.
Bolton has saved his team on countless occasions, so Aloisi is not going to panic after the keeper's uncharacteristic blunders helped Central Coast Mariners to a two-goal victory last Friday night.
Aloisi played with and against Bolton and is confident he has the strength of character to rebound from a horror night.
''I sat down with him and had a coffee with him the following morning to reassure him,'' Aloisi said on Monday.
''He would probably have felt he could have saved them both, but we didn't lose to the Mariners because Clint let a long shot from [Pedj] Bojic go through his arms. We lost because we were outplayed all over the pitch.''
Heart goes into Saturday night's eighth derby as the outsider. Victory has lost only one of its past seven games, and had the better of its clash with defending premier Brisbane Roar at the weekend, even though it could only draw 1-1. The navy blues are in third place on the ladder while Heart is eighth - five points adrift.
Still, the form book does tend to count for little in the frenzy of derby fixtures, and Aloisi points out there are parallels between Heart's position at the weekend and where it was in season one ahead of the first derby.
''We had gone up to Brisbane and been beaten heavily. It was 4-0 and if it had not been for Clint it might have been worse,'' he said. ''We were poor, but we came home, regrouped and won that first derby 2-1.''
Aloisi is too modest to mention he scored the opening goal in that game.
The rookie coach admits he has learnt a lot in the short 11-week period between the opening-round clash this season, when Heart gave him a 2-1 win in front of 42,000 fans at Etihad Stadium.
He was quick to acknowledge after the loss to the Mariners that he erred in slotting his three returning Socceroos straight into the starting line-up.
''I should have left them out and freshened them up for this game. But they will be right for the derby,'' he said.