United survive some nervous moments

2007-12-09 00:00

MARITZBURG United had a few nervous moments in a complacent performance against last-placed Hanover Park at Harry Gwala Stadium last night, but still managed to do enough for a 2-1 win.

The National First Division Coastal Stream leaders had an off night, no two ways about it. After an impressive first 25 minutes, during which United conceded a soft goal, but fought back to 1-1, the home side could not quite find their attacking rhythm.

Things looked to be going from bad to worse when the Pietermaritzburg team were reduced to 10 men with just over 20 minutes to play.

But United did well to fight back again and produce a classy goal to run out convincing winners.

While Hanover were a decently organised side, United would like to stamp their authority more forcefully at their home ground in future matches.

Then again, a win is a win and one cannot fault United’s nine-match unbeaten run and top placing in the Coastal Stream.

United came out pushing the ball around with confidence, particularly with one sweeping move down the right started by a pass from the back by cultured Guinean defender Memba Sylla. But it finished with Lynch Pule failing to connect his shot from eight metres.

But a touch of complacency let the visitors in for the first goal, as a long throw-in was not cleared and fell to Hanover forward Andile Ndongeni to tap in from close range.

Within a minute, United striker Fadlu Davids had the ball in the net, but referee Leslie Dean opted to call play back for a free-kick rather than play advantage.

Lynch Pule’s shot from six metres was blocked in the 14th minute, before United equalised in the 25th, with Collen Zimba’s dangerous ball across goal miskicked into his own net by Hanover’s Simon Mngqikana.

After the goal, United lost their momentum, but did end the first half brightly, with Zimba’s sweetly struck free-kick swerving on to the left upright three minutes into injury time.

At the beginning of the second half the home side still struggled to get into top gear, with only Omar Hendricks’s free-kick from the right slipping narrowly past the left upright.

United’s chances of settling into a dominant pattern were set back in the 68th minute when defender David Mkhandawire was red-carded for an off-the-ball incident with Ndongeni.

Things were not looking good for the home team, but after a frustrating period of what appeared to be gamesmanship by Hanover ‘keeper Grant Meyer wasting five minutes for an injury, United produced their winner in the 40th minute.

A good burst of pace and a pass into area by Zimba down the right was met by Davids steaming in like a freight train. He slammed the ball in for his third goal in two games.

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