United soach praises Ajax keeper

2012-02-21 00:00

MARITZBURG United coach Ernst Middendorp has praised the efforts of Ajax Cape Town goalkeeper Sander Westerveld after the veteran turned in a man-of-the-match performance in Sunday’s PSL clash between the sides at Harry Gwala stadium.

Westerveld pulled off a string of fine saves near the end of the first half to deny United the lead.

“The fact that the ‘keeper won man of the match should tell you a lot,” said Middendorp. “He was very good today, but we need to concentrate more on our final ball.”

Sunday’s 2-0 scoreline may have flattered the visitors, who were outplayed in the first period, but that will matter little to Middendorp, as a date with Orlando Pirates in Soweto awaits on Sunday.

“We had our chances in both halves and we played well at times,” said the coach. “It was a close game.”

Middendorp’s decision to sacrifice central midfielder Michael Morton with eight minutes to go in the match was greeted with hostility by the large crowd at Harry Gwala.

But the decision to bring on the more attack-minded Wayne Matle almost proved a masterstroke. With two minutes left on the clock, Matle’s ball cannoned back off the crossbar in a moment that summed up United’s day.

“Matle did well when he came on,” said Middendorp. “He can play in an attacking position behind the strikers and that is what I wanted him to do.”

Middendorp admitted that defensive problems were evident when United conceded their first goal, and said that homework would need to be done in identifying the concerning areas.

“It came from the left into the centre and there seemed to be some problems with marking and organisation,” he said. “We will have to take a look at that.”

Middendorp has collected one point from a possible six since he began his second stint at the club.

• sport@witness.co.za

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