United lose on the Highveld

2009-04-19 00:00

MARITZBURG United will be happy to see the back of the Highveld for this season after another dismal performance at altitude in their 4-0 Premier Soccer League defeat to Platinum Stars at Olen Park in Potchefstroom yesterday.

In a staggering statistic, more than half of the 51 goals United conceded this season have come on the Highveld, where they have scored just three times and let in 23, losing all eight league and cup games.

United’s trips to the interior have been characterised by sloppy defence, soft goals conceded and red and yellow cards being given away, and yesterday was no exception.

United had substitute Collen Zimba sent off for a second bookable offence in the 60th minute.

The PMB team started brightly enough but allowed Willem Jackson to head in Dillon Sheppard’s well placed free-kick swung in from right midfield in the ninth minute, then bled more soft goals throughout.

The result has just about put paid to thoughts of finishing in the top eight, and of the PMB team being safe from relegation just yet. United’s form at home has been sound in the second half of the season but their next two games at Woodburn Stadium are no doddle.

Moroka Swallows (May 2) beat the Team of Choice 2-0 in the Nedbank Cup in Germiston last week and still have pretensions of finishing in the top eight. Free State Stars (May 6) have risen from the relegation zone to fifth place under Steve Khompela.

United finish their campaign against a Thanda Royal Zulu side (May 9) in Hammarsdale who could be desperate for a win at that stage.

“We started okay, then we conceded a silly free-kick that they scored from, and then they scored from another free-kick and after that we were always chasing the game,” United coach Gordon Igesund said.

The coach had said he would take a more circumspect approach in the first half than he had in the defeat against Swallows — when the PMB team ran themselves out of steam in the first 45 minutes — but opting to play three defensive midfielders might have been overkill.

With three ball winners in Bageta Dikilu, Sylla Mbemba and John Arwuah in the middle of the park, the PMB team struggled to get their passing together and had little to offer in attack in the first half.

After opening the scoring through veteran defender Jackson, Stars made it 2-0 three minutes before the break and this time it was Colombian striker Luis Renteria who was allowed a free header from another Sheppard free-kick from left midfield.

The PMB team conceded a third goal in the 68th minute from the penalty spot when goalkeeper Tashrique Goldman had to bring down Godfrey Sapula after the midfielder was put through by a one-two with Renteria, and the Colombian slotted his second from the spot.

Two minutes later, Zimba, booked for diving moments earlier, went in late on Sheppard and was sent off. Bradley Grobler finished easily past Goldman for Stars’ fourth in the 73rd minute.

Friday: Santos 1 Bloemfontein Celtic 1

Yesterday: Platinum Stars 4 Maritzburg United 0, Bay United 1 AmaZulu 1

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