United defeat AmaZulu in determined display

2009-02-08 00:00

MARITZBURG United notched up their first away victory of the season yesterday with a hardfought 2-1 Premier Soccer League win over AmaZulu at Chatsworth Stadium, and it could not have come at a better time.

After going a goal down — Dumisani Ngwenya’s shot three minutes into first-half injury time taking a wicked deflection into the net — United took the game to AmaZulu in the second 45 minutes and scored two quality goals.

There is still a way to go for United, who remain precariously in third-last place. United are on 22 points with Thanda Royal Zulu, who shocked Supersport United 3-1 in Pretoria on Saturday and have two games in hand on Maritzburg.

Last-placed Bay United lost 1-0 at home to Free State Stars yesterday. They have a game in hand on Maritzburg but are five points back.

Second to last Celtic continued their signs of a revival with a 2-1 home win against Ajax Cape Town, who have slipped to fourth. Celtic are four points behind Maritzburg with two games in hand.

United have, promisingly, now won three games out of six to follow a nightmare period where they had just one victory in 11 games. Even more heartening is that the PMB team have a reasonable run-in to the end of the season, with five of their remaining nine games at Woodburn Stadium, where they have looked confident.

Following a hectic schedule, United have a well-earned break before playing Lamontville Golden Arrows in Chatsworth on February 21. They then play Wits University (home), Bay (away), Santos (H), Orlando Pirates (H), Platinum Stars (A), Moroka Swallows (H), Free State (H) and Thanda (A) in their final fixture on May 9.

United’s winner yesterday was scored in the 74th minute by a long-serving servant of the club, second-half substitute Collen Zimba who earlier this season reportedly wanted to leave the team because of a lack of game time.

Zimba’s winner, and Lebohang Kukame’s equaliser three minutes earlier, followed a prolonged period of pressure, where Peter Petersen’s balls into the area were being desperately cleared by Usuthu.

In the 71st minute industrious striker Lebohang Kukame got on the end of one of these crosses to steer the ball home from a metre out.

Another Petersen ball fell to Siphiwe Mkhonza, whose shot was cleared but only as far as Zimba, who produced a deft touch and blistering finish.

“I want to say well done to Collen Zimba,” Igesund said. “He might not be the most hard-working player – you might call him a luxury player.

“But we know he scores goals, and I want to really work on him and get him to a level. All the players worked their butts off today, and showed great character to come back from a goal down.”

United’s Ghanaian captain, John Arwuah, was singled out by Usuthu coach Clive Barker for another Spartan performance in central midfield.

“Maritzburg were hungrier than us today — they never took a step backwards,” Barker said.

In a KZN derby where both sides had their chances, United finally also had a little luck go their way as Usuthu substitute Bradley Ritson’s 90th-minute shot at an open goal was deflected onto the crossbar. Then again, luck does usually go the way of the brave.

Saturday: Kaizer Chiefs 1 Moroka Swallows 2, Wits University 1 Platinum Stars 0, SuperSport United 1 Thanda Royal Zulu 3, Lamontville Golden Arrows 0 Mamelodi Sundowns 1, Santos 0 Orlando Pirates 0

Yesterday: Bloemfontein Celtic 2 Ajax Cape Town 1, AmaZulu 1 Maritzburg United 2, Bay United 0 Free State Stars 1

STANDINGS

P W D L F A Pts

S’sport 20 11 4 5 30 16 37

Downs 19 9 4 6 23 15 31

Pirates 19 8 7 4 19 11 31

Ajax 19 9 4 6 21 21 31

Chiefs 19 9 3 7 26 22 30

Moroka 18 8 5 5 24 20 29

Wits 19 8 4 7 22 22 28

Santos 18 7 6 5 17 18 27

Arrows 18 7 5 6 22 16 26

FS 19 6 7 6 23 21 25

Ama 19 7 2 10 24 27 23

P Stars 18 5 7 6 23 23 22

Thanda 19 7 1 11 28 35 22

Utd 21 6 4 11 22 38 22

Celtic 19 4 6 9 19 24 18

Bay Utd 20 4 5 11 21 35 17

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