Solid United shock Chiefs

2012-04-18 00:00

A RESOLUTE defensive performance, an energised debutant and an isolated moment of magic earned Maritzburg United their first away win in the PSL this season with a 1-0 victory over Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs in Polokwane last night.

Cuthbert Malajila’s 74th minute strike, which was his first PSL goal since joining United at the beginning of the year, was enough to separate the sides in a match where Chiefs were as poor offensively as United were good defensively.

But the story of the night belonged to 23-year-old debutant Ryan de Jongh, who put in a man-of–the-match performance at left back in the absence of the suspended Rheece Evans. De Jongh was a tireless bundle of energy as he kept Chiefs winger Abia Nale on a leash throughout the match.

“I am crying tears of joy right now,” said De Jongh, who has only made one substitute appearance for United this season, after the match. “I asked the coach to throw me in the deep end and he backed me, and now here I am.”

United coach Ernst Middendorp opted for another overly defensive starting lineup. But the return of midfielders Kurt Lentjies and Felix Obada did give the hosts encouragement that they could challenge on the counter attack.

Lentjies played in a three-pronged central midfield alongside David Booysen and anchorman Chillies Madondo while Obada resumed his position wide right. With Thabang Matuka given a run on the left of midfield, Malajila was left as a lone striker.

Lentjies nearly fired United into the lead as early as the fourth minute when his free kick from just outside the 18-yard area hit the base of Chiefs keeper Itumeleng Khune’s right hand upright.

But Chiefs dominated possession over the 90 minutes while their new caretaker manager Donald Khuse was made to watch as attack after attack was extinguished by United’s focused defenders.

In the 34th minute Nale had a shot from distance that caught United keeper Shu-Aib Walters off his line and rattled the crossbar.

When the sides came out after the break Middendorp’s charges continued to sit deep and invite attacks while waiting for their opportunity to counter.

In the 62nd minute Chiefs had a legitimate claim for a penalty turned down when sprawled United rightback Peter Petersen got his hand in the way of a Bernard Parker shot.

And then, with a little over 15 minutes remaining in the game, United turned on the heat in a magical moment.

After another Chiefs attack fizzled out, Walters found himself with the ball in his hands. The former Bafana Bafana squad member smashed a drop kick three quarters of the length of the field that was met by Malajila on the left flank. The Zimbabwean striker did phenomenally well to control his first touch and set off on a run towards goal. Malajila beat Chiefs defenders Jimmy Jambo and Dominic Isaacs along the way before toe-poking his effort past an advancing Khune to send the Peter Mokaba Stadium into disbelief.

The win has catapulted United to 10th on the PSL table and nine points clear of relegation worries, though 14 teams are in action in tonight’s fixtures.

“This is the work of the whole team,” a satisfied Middendorp commented after the match.

United next face Mamelodi Sundowns in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

• sport@witness.co.za

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