Keeping it clean

Goalkeepers don't always get the attention they deserve, so far this season they have been pummeled by a barrage of goals, but last round they all stood up.

After a rush of 70 goals in the previous four rounds - that's 3.5 goals per game - round 9 belonged to the goalkeepers with just six goals scored, and five teams kept scoreless.

Nathan Coe (Victory), Michael Theo (Roar) and Mark Paston (Phoenix) all kept clean sheets in their team's wins in round 9.

Against the Heart, Sydney FC goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic was playing in his first national league game, while at the other end of the field Clint Bolton was making his 474th national league appearance.

The nil-all stalemate gave both the rookie and the master some satisfaction, even though neither player tasted victory.

Well-deserved national team duty for Mat Ryan and Eugene Galekovic gave rare first team experience for custodians Justin Pasfield (Central Coast Mariners) and Paul Izzo (Adelaide United), neither of who disappointed in their round 9 top-of-the-table clash.

The A-League possesses an abundance of goalkeeping talent, with a good variety of exciting up-and-comers, and the wiser, experienced campaigners.

Aged 17 years, 330 days, Izzo became the league's second youngest goalkeeper ever when he made his debut.

The league's youngest ever goalkeeper was Mark Birighitti, now with the Jets, who was 17 years, 183 days old when he first played for Adelaide United back in 2008/09.

At the other end of the age scale we have Ante Covic at the Wanderers, who was part of Australia's 2006 World Cup squad, and Bolton, both at 37-years-old.

Bolton's career is extraordinary. He made his national league debut in October 1993, and has amassed 474 Australian national league appearances with Brisbane Strikers, Sydney Olympic, Parramatta Power, Sydney FC and Melbourne Heart, racking up a record 144 clean sheets along the way.

That's over 700 hours of national league football, and includes grand final shut-outs with the Strikers in 1997 (2-0 over Sydney United), Sydney Olympic in 2002 (1-0 over Perth Glory) and Sydney FC in 2006 (1-0 over Central Coast). While scoring goals is the match-day aim of a striker, keeping a clean sheet is obviously the keeper's key objective.

One could argue that keeping a clean sheet is more important than scoring: you can't lose if you don't concede, you can lose even if you score.

The stats prove it. Based on the 861 A-League games played up until round 9, a team who kept a clean sheet went on to win 75.3 per cent of matches, whereas a team who scored at least one goal only went on to win 50.5 per cent of matches.

When it comes to player statistics, it seems like the goalscorers get all the attention, with the top scorers of the season and all-time leading scorers often taking the limelight.

However goalkeeper fans have plenty to look out for in round 10, with interesting scenarios for the three players at the top of the Hyundai A-League's all-time clean sheets ladder.

After round 9, Clint Bolton (51), Danny Vukovic (50) and Michael Theo (49) are leading the way with clean sheets in the A-League.

Vukovic can join Bolton at the top of the all-time clean sheets ladder if the Glory can get away from Melbourne with a win and keep the Heart scoreless.

Theo can reach his milestone 50th A-League clean sheet as the Brisbane Roar take on the league's weakest attack, the Western Sydney Wanderers who have scored just five goals in their first nine games.

The Brisbane Roar keeper is likely to become the fastest player to tally up 50 A-League clean sheets.

It took Vukovic 155 appearances to reach 50 clean sheets, while Bolton did it in 160 matches. Leading into round 10, Theo has made his 49 clean sheets so far in just 141 appearances.

Follow Andrew Howe-s Aussie football stats updates on Twitter @AndyHowe_statto