Coastal winners United focus on NFD final

2008-04-14 00:00

MARITZBURG United are the winners of the NFD Coastal Stream after their 3-1 defeat of Durban Stars at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday, and now their attention focuses on the play-off final against FC AK.

The winners of the National First Division final on May 10 and 17 are promoted to the Premier Soccer League. Yesterday, United coach Ian Palmer said his main task over the next four weeks is to keep United at the peak they have hit in their last two pressure games. United beat Bay United 1-0 in an impressive display last week to annex the Coastal Stream lead.

“I have drawn up a programme of four or five friendlies to keep the rhythm going until the final … The friendlies will be against a Castle League, then a Vodacom team to build confidence scoring goals, because we have been creating chances, but not finishing. Then stepping up the intensity against First Division or PSL teams,” Palmer said.

Fadlu Davids, who scored a brace via a second-minute header and 82nd-minute penalty, went to 13 goals to finish Coastal Stream top scorer, and stands a chance of repeating his feat of 2004/05 of being top of the NFD.

Inland top scorer Reason Chiloane (14 goals) of relegated Ga-rankuwa United will play no further part in the NFD this season.

Lynch Pule was United’s other scorer in the 10th minute in an at times nervy game.

“I think the pressure situation of the match, and a few players being on two yellow cards who we did not want suspended for the final, contributed to the team not quite being able to get their rhythm,” said Palmer. “Because of the yellow cards we went out to try to score two goals in the first 20 minutes and then try for another before the break so we could pull players off.”

United’s plan almost worked and the team were two goals up in the first 10 minutes. An unmarked Davids buried his header from the first corner of the game, then Pule beat a defender curled a shot from the edge of the area that should have been saved by Stars keeper Siya Mngoma.

A rout appeared possible, but it all seemed to be coming too easily and the home team lost their stride as Stars pulled one back through midfielder Daneel Moeletsi’s 25-metre free-kick in the 39th minute.

United reacted nervously to the goal. The team at times seemed to try too hard to play with precision, and ended up making mistakes, while the combinations didn’t quite come together. But in the end the home side kept their heads admirably and, overall, given the match situation, United’s performance was on almost a par with their victory over Bay.

Davids made the game safe in the 82nd minute with his second pressure penalty in a week, following the winning goal against Bay, after Nkanyiso Ntombela hand-balled in the area. Stars, who fired coach Sammmy Troughton last week, had goalkeeper Davies Phiri as caretaker-coach, but when Mngoma went off injured in the 59th minute Phiri had to bring himself on.

United had David Mkhandawire and Omar Hendricks suspended, who will both be back for the final, while none of their players on two yellows picked up a booking, so the team have a full squad for the first leg.

Coastal Stream: Today: FC Cape Town 1 Western Province United 1, Nathi Lions 1 Bay United 2, Maritzburg United 3 Durban Stars 1, Hanover Park 1 Ikapa Sporting 1.

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