United pull off thriller

2014-08-14 00:00

A SIMPLY thrilling PSL clash at Harry Gwala Stadium last night saw Maritzburg United run out 2-1 winners over Polokwane City.

Debutant Kwanda Mngonyama scored the winner for United in the 59th minute after both sides had a player sent off. One of those red cards belonged to Maritzburg striker Mohau Mokate, who had put the Team of Choice ahead in the first half before his effort was cancelled out by a Puleng Tlolane free-kick.

Maritzburg started the game brightly with left winger Deolin Mekoa seeing plenty of ball early on — his runs and cut-ins providing early encouragement for the small Midlands crowd.

But Polokwane settled and by the end of 20 minutes looked slightly the more compact side.

Tlolane tested Shu-Aib Walters with a first-time hit from a Mothusi Gopane free-kick, but the United goalkeeper was quick to react, diving to his left and pushing the ball around the post.

Maritzburg continued to look lively on the counter attack, specifically from the left through Mekoa and left back Thabang Matuka.

They were 1-0 up on 28 minutes. Kurt Lentjies had played in Thami Mkhize, who laid the ball off for Mokate - the 23-year-old slotting past Dino Visser to put the Team of Choice ahead.

It didn’t last long. Just seven minutes later Mabaso brought down substitute Rendani Ndou just outside the Maritzburg area.

The resulting free-kick from Puleng was curled into the top left hand corner to make it 1-1 at half time.

The game had been an entertaining contest up until that point, but it turned sour straight after the restart. Referee Thabo Nkosi had blown for a routine foul, but both sets of players took it upon themselves to show their disapproval with each other as a mob formed in the Polokwane half. It seemed that United right back Ryan de Jongh had overstepped the mark with his protests, but once the scuffle had ended Nkosi decided that Polokwane left back Elias Ngwepe and goal scorer Mokate would have early showers.

It was end-to-end stuff after that. With two less players on the pitch, space opened up and it was the home side doing most of the attacking.

It paid off on the hour mark when captain Ashley Hartog flicked on a corner. The ball dropped to Mngonyama, who buried his shot and spun off towards the home fans.

Maritzburg dominated the rest of the match and could have won by more, but 2-1 at home was about as sweet as they could have hoped for in a match that was as dramatic as they come.

MARITZBURG UNITED 2

(Mokate 28’, Mngonyama 59’)

POLOKWANE CITY 1 (Tlolane 35’)

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