Maritzburg scrape through

2011-09-29 00:00

MARITZBURG United appeared to be heading for their first PSL defeat of the seasFon at the Harry Gwala Stadium last night before coming back from a goal down in the last seven minutes of the match to beat Platinum Stars 2-1.

United had been poor for the majority of the match, picking up where they left off against Black Leopards in Polokwane on Saturday by squandering chances in front of goal and failing to land their final passes on attack.

In a largely uninspiring first half from both sides, United coach Ian Palmer will have cringed when he saw midfielder Prince Olomu miss a header from no more than two meters after an inch-perfect Felix Obada cross.

In wet conditions, the second half started out in much the same way, with United giving away possession thanks to aimless passing and poor first touches.

They were made to pay in the 49th minute when Sibusiso Msomi’s weak effort from range deceived United keeper Shu-Aib Walters, who was late to react and beaten low and to his right.

United appeared to have no way back into the match as, time and time again, they were let down in the final third of the pitch. Chances fell to Obada, Olomu and substitute Fadlu Davids, but none of the attackers were able to convert and United seemed destined to lose.

That all changed in the 64th minute when a reckless challenge on Kurt Lentjies from Stars defender Phelelani Mpangase saw the perpetrator receive his second yellow card and leave the field for an early shower.

It was all United after that, and as wave after wave of attack was dealt with by the Stars defence, it appeared that it would simply not be United’s day.

With four minutes of the 90 remaining, Obada then found himself in space with the ball at his feet on the left hand side of the area. A neat bit of skill gave him the freedom to line up his shot, which was a piledriver into the roof of the net as United fans breathed a sigh of relief.

The ascendency was firmly with the home side after that and in the third minute of stoppage time Senegalese defender Mor Diouf, who had been throwing himself forward for much of the second half, managed to get on the end of a pass and send Harry Gwala into ruptures.

It was Diouf’s second winner of the season after he scored in United’s 2-1 win over Orlando Pirates in August.

The win leaves United in an astonishing third position on the PSL table, two points behind the only other undefeated side in the league, SuperSport United. United meet SuperSport in their next encounter in Pretoria on October 14.

See tomorrow’s Witness for coach Ian Palmer’s reaction to the match.

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