United win with clinical ease

2008-03-08 00:00

IN the clinical, collected fashion that has been their hallmark this season, Maritzburg United eased past Ikapa Sporting with a 1-0 National First Division Coastal Stream victory at Harry Gwala Stadium last night.

United were made to work hard for the three points against the well-organised but ultimately unthreatening Capetonians, as the second-placed Pietermaritzburg team kept the pressure on leaders Bay United, who play last-placed Western Province United in Cape Town today.

The home team were in the ascendancy for the entire 90 minutes without ever having to raise their tempo to any great heights. Both teams finished with 10 men, with Thando Ngwabeni for United, and Denilson Tandwa both picking up their second bookable offences in the dying minutes. Maritzburg had the first chance when Justice Sithole ended his run down the right by shooting into the side-netting.

Fifth-placed Ikapa have struggled this season, but, while not too inventive up-front, play a well-organised, stifling brand of football and United at times struggled to break them down. The home side, though, did grow in strength as the half progressed.

Fadlu Davids’s header from Sithole’s cross in the 33rd minute was well saved by Ikapa goalkeeper Nazier Casker.

United deserved to take the lead in the 42nd minute. Zimba’s corner from the left was well delivered, and the ever-reliable Davids got ahead of the defence to head in at the near post.

Ikapa began the second half with intent and Kurt Leintjies’s corner was headed just wide by Denilson Tandwa. That was a rare chance for the visitors, though. The United defence worked hard to keep the visitors at Bay, though the team had gone into a lull creatively and coach Ian Palmer brought on Sipho Mngomezulu for Omar Hendricks in the 68th minute.

The lively winger almost made an impact 10 minutes later when he powered into the area and his bullet-like shot was tipped over by the outstretched arm of Caskers.

With seven minutes to go, Ngwabeni replaced the fading Collen Zimba, and picked up his second yellow for an on-purpose handball in the 89th minute. In injury time Tandwa committed a foul for his second yellow.

RESULTS

Yesterday: Durban Stars 0 Nathi Lions 2, Maritzburg United 1 Ikapa Sporting 0.

STANDINGS

P W D L F A Pts

Mburg Utd 18 10 5 2 25 13 38

Bay Utd 17 11 3 3 23 8 36

Nathi 18 7 9 2 18 9 30

Dbn Stars 18 5 6 7 18 23 21

Ikapa FC 18 5 5 8 23 22 20

FCCTN 17 4 7 6 20 22 19

Hanover 17 3 3 11 16 30 12

WP Utd 17 2 6 9 18 35 12

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