Not a pretty sight at Harry Gwala

2012-04-05 00:00

MARITZBURG 0 SUPERSPORT 0

IT wasn’t easy on the eye at times, but Maritzburg United’s goalless draw with SuperSport United at the Harry Gwala Stadium last night saw the Team of Choice gain a valuable point in their bid to steer clear of the bottom of the PSL table.

Maritzburg coach Ernst Middendorp set up with a narrow 4-4-2 formation that saw a rare strike partnership of Diyo Sibisi and Zimbabwean Cuthbert Malajila take to the field.

Both sides were quick out of the blocks in the opening exchanges and displayed enough pace on attack to suggest there would be goals in the game.

In the ninth minute the hosts nearly took the lead when midfielder Wayne Matle whipped in a dangerous ball from the right hand side of the pitch.

A fine run from Prince Olomu meant the Nigerian would meet the ball first, but his sweetly connected header rattled the SuperSport woodwork as goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez was left helpless. After being in the air for what seemed like an age, the rebound fell for Malajila, but his headed effort went wide right of goal.

With Middendorp’s narrow formation squeezing out SuperSport attacks, the visitors finally threatened when veteran striker Sibusiso Zuma bustled his way through the Maritzburg defence, but he was off balance and his shot from 10 yards didn’t threaten goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters.

Just three minutes later another dangerous ball from Matle on the right caused a nervous moment for SuperSport, but the danger was cleared as Maritzburg midfielder Michael Morton narrowly missed out on getting a shot away.

After a heated few minutes that saw yellow cards for SuperSport’s Morgan Gould and Danleigh Borman and Maritzburg’s Chillies Madondo, the half came to a close as Matle appeared to hold the key to sparking something for the hosts.

Ten minutes into the second period Middendorp replaced Olomu for the livelier Felix Obada and the winger didn’t take long to make his presence known.

A minute after coming on to the pitch Obada found himself in acres of space down the right hand side of the field courtesy of an inch-perfect Madondo pass. But Obada’s execution let him down, and with two Maritzburg players awaiting delivery the Nigerian opted to go for goal instead.

It needed to be a spectacular effort to beat Fernandez from an acute angle, and the shot rifled narrowly over the crossbar.

The game opened up as the fans became more vocal and both sides went in search of a winner.

Zuma came close just after the hour mark, thrashing a powerful effort just past Walters’s left upright.

Two minutes later, Maritzburg had their chance of the match. Obada beat Borman down the right hand side and when Fernandez misjudged his movement off his line, there was nobody at home in the SuperSport goal.

Unfortunately for Maritzburg, nobody was arriving into the area either and Obada’s ball across the face of goal went untouched as players fell to the pitch in disbelief.

Middendorp said afterwards that he was satisfied with his side’s efforts.

“In a game like this one mistake on either side can decide the outcome,” he told The Witness. “We had our opportunities, but I have to compliment the players on the performance they put in.”

Middendorp added that the psychological aspect of his side being hammered 7-0 in October during the first round of fixtures made last night’s performance even more admirable. “I have said before that every point gained at this stage is valuable,” said Middendorp. “There will still be many surprises to come in the remaining games.”

Maritzburg host Santos on Sunday at Harry Gwala.

LOG

P W D L GF GA GD Pts

Sundowns 23 11 10 2 37 15 22 43

Orlando Pirates 23 13 4 6 29 20 9 43

Moroka Swallows 23 11 8 4 34 26 8 41

Free State Stars 23 11 5 7 29 23 6 38

Kaizer Chiefs 22 10 7 5 25 16 9 37

SuperSport United 23 9 9 5 28 17 11 36

Ajax Cape Town 22 10 4 8 30 33 -3 34

AmaZulu 22 8 6 8 22 17 5 30

Bloem Celtic 23 8 6 9 23 23 0 30

Platinum Stars 23 7 6 10 27 29 -2 27

Bidvest Wits 23 6 8 9 25 31 -6 26

Golden Arrows 23 7 4 12 29 35 -6 25

Maritzburg Utd 23 5 10 8 20 30 -10 25

Black Leopards 23 6 5 12 25 42 -17 23

Santos 23 5 4 14 27 39 -12 19

Jomo Cosmos 22 2 10 10 17 31 -14 16

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