United outplay the Birds

2014-03-01 00:00

AN Orlando Smeekes-inspired Maritzburg United outplayed Moroka Swallows at Harry Gwala Stadium last night as Thokozani Sekotlong scored the only goal of the game to give the Team of Choice an invaluable 1-0 win and three precious log points in their fight for PSL survival.

Smeekes was at the heart of everything that the home side did right in the first half. United were 1-0 up inside four minutes when the Dutchman stretched his legs down the left touchline before squaring the ball to Sekotlong, who made no mistake tapping in on the volley from inside the six-yard box for his fourth goal of the season.

United were keeping the ball with ease, and there was a calmness about their build-ups that replaced the rushed panic that has been a feature of their game all too often this season.

On 23 minutes, Smeekes nearly doubled the lead when he latched onto a Ryan de Jongh cross, but his header rattled into the crossbar as Swallows keeper Greg Etafia was beat.

Swallows struggled to manufacture any clear chances, but they did threaten when Georgian Giorgi Nergadze blasted over from just outside the area.

Smeekes was at it again with just five minutes left in the half when a United counter-attack saw Bongolethu Jayiya play the striker in. But Smeekes, perhaps a little to confident, tried an audacious chip instead of a drive shot and the ball floated harmlessly over the Birds’ goal.

There was time for one last United chance before half time when Smeekes motioned to receive a pass, drawing in the Swallows defence towards him, but instead he expertly let the ball run for Sekotlong who was unable to curl his effort into the far corner.

The second half was a scrappier affair, and Swallows started far more impressively than they had been in the first. Coach Zeca Marques sacrificed a defender to play with just three at the back as he went in search of an equaliser, but United were dogged and resilient.

That decision would give United a couple of chances on the counter, and Jayiya should have done better in his attempt find Kurt Lentjies at the back post on 67 minutes.

Jayiya would have another good chance on 74 minutes, but his low effort was well saved from Etafia.

By that stage, it was one-way traffic, and how Sekotlong missed just two minutes later after fantastic build-up play was beyond everybody at Harry Gwala as his effort from point blank range rose skywards.

United were good enough to have put the game to bed way before the final whistle, but their inability to find a second goal made for a nervy finish.

The win sees coach United move one place up the PSL log to 13th place.

Other results

Ajax Cape Town 2 - 0 Polokwane City

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