United win follows the script

2009-08-27 00:00

EVERYTHING went pretty much to script and almost exactly as planned for Maritzburg United as they notched up their first victory of the 2009/10 Premier Soccer League season with a 2-0 win over AmaZulu at Woodburn Stadium last night.

Both of United’s goals were scored as part of an inspired first-half display where the home team stamped their authority and overwhelmed an AmaZulu defence that has looked increasingly shaky this season with snappy passing and impressive running on and off the ball.

It was an efficient performance by United, complemented by more than a dash of attacking verve, and one that bodes well for the season.

The improvement in the team’s cohesion and passing from their spirited, but somewhat disjointed 1-1 opening draw against SuperSport United was dramatic.

And there is the strong feeling that there is still plenty of room left for improvement as a new-look team get to know one another.

While it is still very early in the season, the victory left United in an unusually high second place.

“We started well last season too, but we were not fit then and I knew it couldn’t carry on,” United coach Gordon Igesund said after the game.

“This season will be different because our level of fitness is so much higher.”

United midfielder Noah Chivuta’s outstanding passing has clearly added much to the team, while new Senegalese defender Mor Diouf impressed with an accomplished performance in defence and Nigerian winger Felix Obada ran hard and fast at the AmaZulu defence.

United were deserved 2-0 leaders at the break. They stamped their authority on their home ground and had the better of the play and clearcut chances.

The home team’s first chance came when defender Sboniso Gumede could not get up to Vito Badiane’s pass from the right to allow Norman Smith through on goal, whose chip at goalkeeper Nicolas Gindre was a foot wide.

A minute later AmaZulu showed their own attacking intent as dangerous striker Dumisani Ngwenya curled his shot just over the bar after being played into the area by Nhlanhla Zwane.

Just after that United were unfortunate not to open the scoring when defensive midfielder Musa Nyatama’s searing, long-range drive cannoned into the crossbar.

In the 36th minute Peter Petersen’s cross from the right found Fadlu Davids free in the area, who headed wide.

Two minutes later, in an almost exact replica of that movement, Davids made no mistake at a second attempt from a cross from right midfield by Obada.

With a minute to the break it was 2-0 when Petersen’s long throw fell to Chivuta just inside the area. He expertly took the ball on his chest and shot powerfully on to the crossbar, with the ball going in off Gindre’s back.

In the second half, United consolidated and defended their cushion, while the passes did not come quite as crisply as they had in the first half.

The visitors should have scored when Ayanda Dlamini got up well to fellow substitute Sthembiso Dlamini’s corner and his header across goal was inches wide. Then Ayanda’s well-struck shot hit the crossbar.

In United’s best chance of the half, Chivuta’s shot cannoned off a defender and fell to Kulegani Madondo whose shot from range was well saved by Gindre.

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

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