Coach rates United’s pluck as Downs await

2011-05-03 00:00

MARITZBURG United coach Ian Palmer has praised his side for showing character to come back from a goal down to beat Mpumalanga Black Aces 2-1 in a crucial PSL match in Witbank on Sunday.

United went into the match finding themselves second from the bottom of the promotion/relegation table, following fellow strugglers Moroka Swallows’ victory over Free State Stars the day before.

After Sunday’s match United moved ahead of Swallows and now lie in 13th position.

The dreaded promotion/relegation spot is now occupied by Vasco Da Gama, who were on the wrong side of a 5-3 scoreline at home to Platinum Stars.

“It was not an easy game; we had all seen what Aces had done in the lead-up to the game, but the boys fought hard and gave 200%,” said Palmer. “We came out dominating possession, but before long they had taken hold of the midfield and we were required to make some tactical changes.”

Palmer was forced to withdraw defender Musa Nyatama before the break, replacing him with the more attacking Gert Schalkwyk in a tactical swap.

The move proved to pay dividends in the second half after another change saw the introduction of midfielder Jabulani Ncubeni. A brace of two goals from powerful striker Diyo Sibisi in the 53rd and 64th minutes saw the Team of Choice take the lead, which they would hold on to until the end of the match.

The result could prove to be crucial in United’s quest to remain in the top flight, with only two games remaining against table-toppers Mamelodi Sundowns and Ajax Cape Town. United host Sundowns on Saturday and Palmer has said his side should take full advantage of the fact that they will be playing at home.

“People may write us off because Sundowns are challenging for league honours, but Sundowns is just a name,” he said. “We know that it is going to be tough, but we will need to make use of our home advantage.”

Palmer added that while United will be looking for victory, he will instruct his side to take a cautious approach towards the match.

“If we went out there and decided to take the game to them it would be suicide,” he said. “We will be better off taking a cautious approach and looking to hit them on the break.

“We mustn’t come away from this game with nothing; a point will be like gold to us.”

Palmer said one more win for his side should be enough to ensure survival.

“It looks like this will go down to the last game of the season, and if we can get one more win, we will distance ourselves from the danger zone.”

 

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