United savvy stumps Bucs

2011-08-26 00:00

MARITZBURG United were aided by the fact that Orlando Pirates striker Benni McCarthy was sent off in Wednesday night’s PSL encounter at Harry Gwala stadium, according to Team of Choice head coach Ian Palmer.

After scoring a goal to put Pirates in the lead, Mc-Carthy was sent off for a second bookable offence on the stroke of half-time and the three-time PSL champions were forced to play the second half with 10 men.

“Of course, it would have been more difficult to come back and win the game with Benni on the pitch,” Palmer conceded. “But our goal was to make it as difficult as possible for them and that is what we did.”

Going into the break at 1-0 down, Palmer brought on Wayne Matle for holding midfielder Michael Morton in a move that signified attacking intent.

“In the first half we gave their midfield too much time and space and that is how they were able to put together their passages of play,” Palmer said. “In the second half we changed a couple of things tactically by man marking Oupa Manyisa and Andile Jali and getting the ball to our quick men up front to run at their centre backs.”

The second half comeback, which saw goals from Diyo Sibisi and Mor Diouf give United a 2-1 victory over the Buccaneers, was indicative of the character that Palmer has instilled into his squad of players this season.

“I always tell my players that they should never doubt their ability; when they step onto the pitch they are either equal or better than the other individuals out there,” said the coach, who is undefeated this season. “It is having that type of character that can be the difference.”

Palmer heaped praise on left back Rheece Evans, who was making his first PSL start of the season in place of struggling Thabang Matuka.

“Rheece will give Maritzburg United a lot this season; he works hard and has a great mentality,” said Palmer.

Evans was made to deal with the pace and skill of Pirates’ wide men Tlou Segolela and Thulasizwe Mbuyane, who changed flanks throughout the match.

“I think Tlou got a surprise when he matched up against Rheece,” Palmer said. “Tlou tried to run around him, but Rheece matched him for pace every time.”

The win leaves United eighth on the log after three rounds of fixtures and they must now wait until September 14 before their next match away to Bloemfontein Celtic, a break that has Palmer concerned.

“It is a worry for us; we have just got some momentum going and now we are forced into a long break,” he said. “But we will go to Bloemfontein for a tough match and we will be up for it.”

Club captain Fadlu Davids heroically continued playing on Wednesday night after suffering an injury that has since been confirmed as a broken cheek bone. He will go into surgery on Monday.

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