NATHAN Burns admitted he missed a sitter and joked Bathurst '75 needed him off the field to clinch a 1-0 Western Premier League win over Lithgow Workmen's FC, but his quality was still easy to see.
A good size crowd assembled at Proctor Park on Saturday to see the former Socceroo make his debut in the league and just as they enjoyed seeing him in action, Burns was impressed by what his team-mates and rivals produced.
The Blayney native said the league can play an important role in player development in the region.
"With me being out there, you could see the quality out there that the other players bring, it's a good level and it's only getting better. That's why it's so great coming out here and playing, seeing how good the boys are," he said.
"I never really knew of a men's league when I was growing up, I've got a few mates that playing in the league, that's why I follow it. So it's good to get in the league and kick around with them.
"I think full credit to the people behind the scenes that created the league and kept it going ...hopefully it keeps getting better.
"You want to get players going through the system whom play good football, then they can progress into better leagues."
Though Burns' resume includes 24 caps for the Socceroos, he had not played a competitive game in three years prior to Saturday night.
He played the opening half of the game and while being involved in several promising attacking movements and in the main had quality touch on the ball, was unable to hit the mark.
The star striker was also denied by some sharp work from Lithgow goalkeeper Gerard Roebuck.
"I felt a few little muscles here and there ... but overall I had a ball out there, it was so good," Burns said.
"I think the first 30 minutes I had a missed sitter, I had a good shot saved and a one-on-one, so I had a ball out there and the level was quality."
The match winner came in the 74th minute from the penalty spot, the dot shot awarded after Agieg Aluk was fouled in the box.
It was Rooke who stepped up, sending Roebuck the wrong way as he slotted his attempt into the bottom right corner of the net.
That effort was enough to extend Bathurst '75s undefeated start to its return WPL season and has them sitting second on the ladder after six rounds.
While Burns was happy to be part of the win, he said Lithgow made them work hard for it.
"A bit of research from Lithgow is that they've always been in the games and the last couple of weeks it's just blown out a little bit. They're a good team, defensively they were good, their goalkeeper was on fire," he said.
"The Bathurst team had to work hard to get the goal, but the game could have gone either way to be honest, both teams played well.
"Bathurst played some good pocket passes, along the ground stuff, there wasn't a lot of long ball. I didn't go for one header which is like an encouraging sign that they want to play.
"All-round everyone was solid, I couldn't see fault in anyone, everyone gave 100 percent and they were probably better when I came off, they needed me to come off to get the win," he laughed.
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