Ten-man Swallows ‘B’ side waltz past Maritzburg United

2011-03-12 00:00

A MOROKA Swallows “B” team, reduced to 10 men with the sending off of Keegan Ritchie in the 74th minute, breezed past a hapless Maritzburg United with a 3-0 Nedbank Cup last-32 victory at Harry Gwala Stadium last night.

In a cup tie between the two teams locked in a relegation fight to avoid second-last place in the Premier Soccer League, Swallows emerged the psychological winners.

Maritzburg coach Ernst Middendorp offered for the club to fire him following last week’s fight-from-behind 2-2 home draw with Vasco Da Gama, so angry was the German with his side only starting to play seriously in the second 45 minutes.

One wonders what was going through the United coach’s mind after last night’s 90 minutes where United barely showed up.

With the league relegation battle on their minds, United might not have been quite up for a cup scrap.

They were facing a virtual Birds B team, the fielding of which might have been something of a masterstroke by Swallows coach Gordon Igesund, as the Joburg side’s fringe players looked hungry to prove themselves.

Nonetheless, if Swallows needed a morale boost in what has increasingly become a two-way fight for second-last place in the PSL, then last night’s convincing victory may just have provided it.

If this is all the effort United can muster at the crucial tail end of the season in front of home supporters who paid good entrance money, then perhaps they had better throw in the towel now.

With the Birds’ focus on the relegation battle, Igesund started with an almost entirely new XI from the side that drew 0-0 against Santos last weekend.

Still, the Johannesburg side’s “dirt-trackers” were not a bad PSL outfit.

United coach Ernst Middendorp might have looked with some envy at a Birds side that included Ritchie, Ashraf Hendricks, Roger Da Costa, Morgan Shivambu, Mfundo Shumana, Tshepo Ramokala, Sicelo Zuma and Auguston Leonard.

United dominated the first half, but failed to ram home any advantage.

Swallows’ best chance of the half came in the 14th minute when young left-back Ritchie’s well-struck free-kick was kept out with difficulty by United goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters.

In a quick counter-attack from the resultant corner Kurt Lentjies was able to work the ball to Gert Schalkwyk on the left, who cut in and forced a solid save from Birds goalkeeper Sage Lottering.

From there on it was mostly half-chances for the home team as indecision on the edge of the area prevented clear-cut chances.

Buoyed by holding United in the first half, the Birds came out confident in the second and had the home team on the ropes with two quick goals, both set up by right wing Ramokala.

The on-loan Mamelodi Sundowns player’s powerful drive in the 56th minute was palmed on to the right upright by a diving Walters, who could not quite recover to keep out Shivambu’s finish at the far post.

Six minutes later Ramokala breezed through unconvincing challenges by David Booysen and JB Ncubeni to advance on the right and square to Shumana, who side-footed in to the right of a stranded Walters.

Ritchie was sent off by referee Faiek Daniels for a second yellow after a foul on lively United substitute Felix Obada.

Even that did not stem the flow as Sicelo Zuma’s shot from a loose ball in the area was handled by United defender Mor Diouf, after which the Swallows striker buried the 77th-minute penalty.

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