Draw after ‘Lentjies moment’ goes awry

2015-03-02 00:00

THEY had plenty of energy and ­commitment, but Maritzburg United could not find a way past a resilient Free State Stars at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday night as the side’s played out to a 0-0 draw.

Coach Steve Komphela had spoken in the week of his side’s ambitions to temporarily rid themselves of their ­defensive woes as they sought to play an adventurous, free-flowing and ­attacking brand of football. But that was not the case in the opening 45 minutes. The sizeable Maritzburg crowd would have been grateful to have the brass brand on hand to distract them from what was another lacklustre ­performance from their Team of Choice — in the first half, anyway.

There were few chances in the ­opening period for the home side, though Free State Stars did come close on a couple of occasions through striker ­Camaldine Abraw, who should have done better after latching onto a cross from Katlego Mashego.

The second half was a different ball game, and Maritzburg sprung into life as they finally lived up to Komphela’s promise and delivered a display of attacking intent. Kurt Lentjies grew more influential as the match progressed, playing out wide and drifting in to more central positions. How he didn’t score on 78 minutes is a mystery. Substitute Mondli Cele had rifled in a cross from the right hand side, which was not dealt with by Stars defender Reabetsoe Rakoti. Lentjies was first to react to the failed clearance, blasting his effort goalwards as Stars ’keeper Johnny Mathole pulled off a miraculous save. The ball then bobbled towards the goal-line before Mathole and Lentjies bundled over each other in their attempts to reach the ball first. When the ’keeper emerged with ball in hand, Harry Gwala remained convinced that it had crossed the line despite the match officials ruling otherwise. Lentjies confirmed to The Witness after the match that the ball had not crossed the line.

Before that incident, Maritzburg thought they had gone 1-0 up through Mohammed Anas, but the striker was correctly ruled offside after reacting to attacking partner Terrance Mandaza’s shot that had hit the post.

Stars had chances of their own in the second period, but there was no doubt that Maritzburg had created the better opportunities. None of that matters now, though, as the league standings reflect that United have now gone eight competitive matches (seven league, one cup) without a win.

“It is a concern,” Komphela said of his side’s lean run. “But what is important is that we have created the chances. I can’t fault anyone. They gave their all and luck was not on our side.”

That was never more evident than it was in the Lentjies moment, and when that effort somehow didn’t go in there was a sense that it was not going to be Maritzburg’s night.

“We had enough chances to win the match. Of all of the chances there is the one from Kurt [Lentjies], and who knows what happened there,” Komphela added. “Our midfield stood their ground — Vila [Nhlanhla Vilakazi] and [Thami] Mkhize — and our strikers Anas and Mandaza did all they could.”

Maritzburg are next in action on Sunday when they travel to Pretoria for a date with Tuks, who are coming off the back of a 2-1 win over Mpumalanga Black Aces on Saturday.

Yesterday’s results

Bloemfontein Celtic 2 - 0 Platinum Stars

SuperSport United 2 - 5 AmaZulu

Saturday’s results

University of Pretoria 2 - 1 Mpumalanga Black Aces

Orlando Pirates 3 - 1 Polokwane City

Maritzburg United 0 - 0 Free State Stars

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