United strike early

2014-04-07 00:00

A CRISP Orlando Smeekes strike early in the first half helped Maritzburg United claim the bragging rights from the KwaZulu-Natal derby with a 1-0 win over Golden Arrows at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The striker scored with a 17th minute volley as the hosts climbed up to 12th on the Premiership table against the visiting team who stayed rooted to the bottom.

Arrows did most of the early running, but as in recent games, lacked the confidence from their strikers to make the required impact in the final third.

They fell behind when United had their first shot on goal after 17 minutes as Smeekes smashed a dipping shot on the volley and over Arthur Bartman after a long ball that Ruben Cloete passed from the left.

United continued to find joy down the left flank and Cloete wasted a good chance that was swept well over after being tied up by Smeekes on the half-hour.

Abafana Bes’thende finally had a first shot on goal after 38 minutes when Thembela Sikhakhane cut in from the left and shot low towards the near post where Shuaib Walters pounced easily.

Manti Moholo then had space on the edge of the box, but curled narrowly wide of the top corner as the visitors trailed at the break.

Coach Shaun Bartlett tried to re-invigorate things after the interval by sending on Namibians Deon Hotto and Rudolph Bester for Moholo and Philani Shange respectively.

Hotto had an immediate chance to make an impact when the ball was laid back for him in the box, but the striker skewed wide.

Another foray forward by the visitors yielded the same result, this time Sikhakhane thumping woefully off target.

After Mario Booysen headed over from a Bongolethu Jayiya corner, Bonginkosi Ntuli had Arrows’ best chance when he tricked his way past a defender in the box, but showed poor execution with the finish that trickled to Walters.

Hotto had another chance for the visitors with a set-piece that was poorly off-target, while a rare chance for Terrence Mandaza ended with the Zimbabwean striker scuffing a good opening straight at Bartman.

The veteran goalkeeper kept his side in the game with 10 minutes to play when he threw himself to his right to keep out a deflected Ashley Hartog shot.

Thamsanqa Mkhize denied Ntuli a golden chance late on with a superb goal-saving tackle five yards out, before Jabulani Nene was red carded after the final whistle as the hosts held on for victory.

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