Things get heated in semis

2013-04-25 00:00

THE first-leg semi-finals of the Nashua Maritzburg United Midlands Schools Soccer Challenge took place at Harry Gwala Stadium yesterday, and while the football on show was of a high standard, there was a tense moment as the coaches of Haythorne and Mehlokazulu clashed over the ages of players.

It was a regrettable episode during what should have been a collective effort to develop school football in the region.

Once that episode had ended, it was game time, and as the home side on the day Haythorne looked a compact unit capable of knocking the ball around the park.

But Mehlokazulu side are talented and scored a goal in each half to cruise to a 2-0 win. They are firm favourites to play in the May 11 final.

First it was Mpumelelo Sithole, who has been one of the standout players in the tournament, to find the back of the net. Sithole received a pass that floated over the Haythorne back line and he had little trouble slotting the ball home to put his side 1-0 up.

To Haythorne’s credit, they reacted well to the goal and looked like they might keep the damage to a minimum and give themselves a chance in the second leg.

But in the second half, an error from Haythorne goalkeeper Lwando Mjoli saw a tame free-kick from Ndumiso Biyela somehow put Mahlokazulu 2-0 up.

That was the final score, and Haythorne missed a fantastic chance to grab a goal back just before full time.

The second semi-final was a highly anticipated affair between Maritzburg College and Alex High.

While the game ended 0-0, it was on a knife edge as there seemed to be nothing separating the sides.

With both midfields hungry for the ball, the sides struggled to keep possession for any serious length of time and, as a result, chances were limited.

College’s Ryan Moon looked dangerous from the setpiece at times, but it was the boys from Alex who came closest to break the deadlock with just a couple of minutes remaining.

Thokozani Khumalo had found himself with only College goalkeeper Brylon Petersen to beat, but he hit his shot straight at the keeper and devastated the large and vocal Alex crowd who were in attendance.

College will be the home team in the second leg, and will be hoping they have the services of their Maritzburg United star, Bandile Shandu.

SEMI-FINAL RESULTS (FIRST LEG)

Haythorne 0 — 2 Mehlokazulu

Alex 0 — 0 College

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