United put Ajax to the sword

2009-12-14 00:00

THE signs of form that have been showing under new Maritzburg Uni­ted coach Ernst Middendorp came together yesterday, and in a big way, as United sent Ajax Cape Town packing with a 2-1 Premier Soccer League victory at Woodburn Stadium.

The home team’s victory was far more comprehensive than the scoreline suggests. United’s goals came in the space of two minutes via midfiel­der Musa Nyatama during an inspired period after the break.

This was Middendorp’s third victory in seven games in charge, and the first time this season United have notched up successive wins, following their 2-0 away defeat of Bloemfontein Celtic in midweek.

It was also United’s most impressive performance of 2009/10 since their 1-0 away win over Kaizer Chiefs in September, as the PMB team recaptured their early-season form and then some.

Ajax, who slipped from fourth to sixth thanks to this defeat, began the more composed side. But United ground out control of the game in the first half. In the second half the home side went for the kill with a display of controlled aggression.

The Ajax defence had no answer to the dangerous runs and sporadic raids of forwards Felix Obada, Kurt Lentjies and Rudolf Bester.

Once again United’s three new signings were influential.

Goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters and defender Mario Booysens have shored up a leaky defence. Lentjies’s skill and craftiness are complimented by pace and time on the ball.

But United’s established players, too, appear refreshed by Middendorp’s approach. As individuals and as a team, United are beginning to show their potential again.

Yesterday’s victory saw the Team of Choice climb to 10th and reach a healthy 26 points, a cushion that will stand them in good stead in their tough next fixture away to Mamelodi Sundowns, at the Super Stadium on Wednesday.

United could have scored more goals, and had to rein in an adventurous approach after referee Jacob Frolick softly awarded a penalty to Ajax that Lance Davids scored from in the 81st minute. Frolick ruled for a push by Peter Petersen on Nathan Paulse when there appeared to be little contact.

Middendorp has used the same starting line-up since his side showed potential, although they ended up 3-1 losers to Chiefs in Durban last weekend.

“We played well against Chiefs, and we found a combination of 11 players, bringing in the three new signings, working as a compact unit. I think it could have been 2-0 or even 3-0 today,” the coach said.

“I still don’t know what the situation was with the penalty. But I am happy.

“The new singings are giving a lot. But other players are coming back and playing to their strengths around those players.

“I think, even if we lost matches before, you could see there was progress. For us it’s very important to be away from the relegation area and moving up the log.”

Both sides had their chances in the first half, and Ajax might have felt aggrieved themselves when Frolick over-ruled a Nathan Paulse goal for a supposed push on Walters. By the end of the first 45 minutes, though, United appeared in control.

The home side put Ajax to the sword in the second half. Nyatama, revelling in a more attacking role under Middendorp, finished the game off with his lightning strikes.

The midfielder collected a loose ball, that had been won in the area by Obada, and blasted home from the edge of the area in the 55th minute. Two minutes later Nyatama strongly challenged in midfield and cantered down the middle before calmly placing his shot past goalkeeper Hans Vonk.

PSL wrap, results and standings: page 19

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