United fail to sink 10-men Stars

2010-02-25 00:00

IT was a bizarre night all-round in the Premier Soccer League, with SuperSport United winning the title despite losing 2-1 to Wits University, while Maritzburg United will kick themselves for not being able to beat 10-man Free State Stars to stay in the top eight race.

Stars were reduced to 10 men when full-back Tshegofatso Mashego received his second yellow card in the 42nd minute at Phuthaditjhaba’s Charles Mopeli Stadium last night, but United just could not gel into an attacking pattern to take advantage of the situation.

It took until the 87th minute for the home team to pry open a clearcut chance for Kurt Lentjies, and after that two more followed in quick succession that the dapper midfielder could not take advantage of.

United (35 points) dropped to 10th thanks to AmaZulu’s 1-0 win over Santos in Cape Town. And the PMB team are now without a chance of catching eighth-placed Moroka Swallows (39 points), 1-0 winners over Platinum Stars at Dobsonville Stadium.

United will rue their missed opportunity. Swallows’ last game of the season against Jomo Cosmos has turned into a potential bunfight for the Birds thanks to Jomo Sono’s team pulling off a near-miraculous 2-0 win over Mamelodi Sundowns last night to keep Ezenkosi’s survival hopes alive.

It was just last-placed Cosmos’s fourth victory of the season, and leaves them a point behind Mpumalanga Black Aces, 2-1 losers against Kaizer Chiefs.

Neither side was able to dominate the first half at Phuthaditjhaba’s picturesque stadium last night. Both sides seemed more intent on sizing each other up like boxers in the early rounds of a fight than actually attacking each other.

United did look threatening on the occasions when their dangerous attackers began to move the ball around, but the combinations often ended in a pass narrowly going astray or a poorly aimed cross.

There were only half-chances to both sides in the opening 45 minutes. Stars’ best opportunity came when Maritzburg defender Mor Diouf slipped on a clearance in the area and striker Aleni Lebanye’s shot was blocked, before being scrambled for a corner by goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters.

Stars were reduced to 10 men when Mashego roughly fouled Lentjies and received his second yellow card from referee Robert Smith.

United struggled to make the man’s advantage count at the start of the second half and it was Stars who had the first shot in anger, though Manti Moholo’s effort from range was well off target, as was Mpho Makola’s free-kick moments later.

As the visitors’ attempts to find each other in the danger area continued in vain, a chance to sneak a victory was spurned by Stars in the 79th minute. Makola’s corner was missed by Walters and fell to Ayanda Gcaba, whose shot was blocked on the line by John Arwuah.

Finally Maritzburg created a clear-cut chance with three minutes remaining when Musa Nayatama’s angled through-pass put Lentjies through on the right, with Kennedy Mweene saving at the winger’s feet.

In an even better chance, Lentjies chested Arwuah’s long-ball past Gcaba and his shot beat Mweene but slipped wide.

Seconds from the end Lentjies was again slipped through, this time by substitute Noah Chivuta, but could not get the power on his shot to beat Stars’ ’keeper.

 

Last night: SuperSport United 1 Wits University 2, Moroka Swallows 1 Platinum Stars 0, Lamontville Golden Arrows 1 Ajax Cape Town 1, Jomo Cosmos 2 Mamelodi Sundowns 0, Kaizer Chiefs 2 Mpumalanga Black Aces 0, Santos 0 AmaZulu 1, Free State Stars 0 Maritzburg United 0

 

More PSL, page 27.

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