United scramble 1-0 win

2009-10-29 00:00

WHEN you’re not at your best form sometimes you have to scramble a victory, which was what Maritzburg United did in their 1-0 Premier Soccer League win over Mpumalanga Black Aces at a rain-swept Woodburn Stadium last night.

United stepped up the intensity from some poor performances recently and did what was required to outplay and defeat an Aces side that looked short on quality for the PSL, thanks to Fadlu Davids’s 78th-minute strike.

This was United’s first win in six games since their 1-0 victory over Kaizer Chiefs at Orlando Stadium on September 12 and only their third of the season. It was just their second victory at Woodburn, having beaten AmaZulu 2-0 there on August 26.

It might not have been a pretty victory, but they seldom are between two teams in the bottom half of the table, especially in wet and slippery conditions.

Overall, though, it was an improvement from United, who will also know there is still much work to do before they have nursed themselves back to somewhere near the form they displayed early in the season.

United will be looking for a second victory at Woodburn against Free State Stars on Saturday because after that they enter a hellish programme with matches away to Orlando Pirates, Santos and SuperSport United, before hosting Wits University.

United seemed intent on upping their work-rate and creating more chances, although slippery conditions and opponents who worked hard at tight man-marking made it difficult for the home team.

The hosts had most of the play and most of the chances in the first 45 minutes, though without forcing Aces goalkeeper Thomas Richter into a save.

The ’keeper was beaten twice in the half where the ball was desperately cleared off the line.

The first of these came in the 16th minute when Rudolf Bester crossed from space on the left and his pass found Musa Nyatama free, who steered the ball towards goal where it was booted to safety from centimetres in front of the line.

In the 41st minute striker Brice Aka got a touch past Richter in a one-on-one, with defender Sibusiso Dabi beating the ball to the line and clearing.

These were among a handful of efforts at goal, including a shot wide by Nyatama and two that went tamely straight at Richter, and another hit with greater venom by Noah Chivuta that was also into the ’keeper’s arms.

Aces had their chances too. United goalkeeper Tashrique Goldman pulled off a good save from Jacob Machaka’s shot early on, then another great double stop late in the half to deny Esau Mtsweni from close range.

United were more forceful in the second half and largely camped in the Aces half. But the team from Mpumalanga looked like they might pull off a gritty draw through a measure of desperate defence and just plain getting under foot.

United were unlucky to not take the lead with two good chances. The first when Bester’s chip in was touched on by the head of substitute Davids to Aka on the right, who turned his defender and burst through to force a point-blank save from Richter.

Collen Zimba was introduced for Aka in the 58th minute and almost immediately made an impact, his in-swinging corner finding the head of Davids as Richter produced another fine reflex stop.

Then the home team finally did open the score in the 78th minute. Noah Chivuta’s corner was half-cleared and fell to Elias Ngwepe, whose ball back in got a touch-on from Byrone Hendricks to Davids, who swept home an expert finish.

Last night: Wits University 1 Free State Stars 1, AmaZulu 2 Orlando Pirates 1, Ajax Cape Town 2 Moroka Swallows 0, Kaizer Chiefs 2 Lamontville Golden Arrows 0, Bloemfontein Celtic 3 Jomo Cosmos 3, Platinum Stars 2 Mamelodi Sundowns 0, Maritzburg United 1 Mpumalanga Black Aces 0

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