Win over Bucs a perfect way to end remarkable season for United

2013-05-20 00:00

THEY may have missed out on the desired top eight finish, but Maritzburg United ended their PSL season on a high with a dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 victory over giants Orlando Pirates in Soweto on Saturday.

With just five minutes remaining and with United 2-1 down, goals from Ryan de Jongh and then Cuthbert Malajila in stoppage secured a memorable win for the Team of Choice, whose first goal had come from Namibian Heinrich Isaacks. Tlou Segolela had given Pirates the lead in the first half and Khetho Masuku scored for Bucs in the second.

United went into the match with only the slightest mathematical chance of making it into the top eight, but a win was the only way that could happen. With coach Ernst Middendorp and the playing squad on Saturday all unaware of the results that were forming around the country, there was a moment of hope when the final whistle went at Orlando Stadium.

But United, despite three valuable points, were unmoved on the table and finish the season in 11th place, just three points behind fifth-placed Bloemfontein Celtic in what looks a congested mid-table.

Middendorp told The Witness yesterday that while the disappointment at missing out on the top eight is inevitable, the strides made by the club this year mean that he looks back on the campaign with nothing but positivity.

“It is a major step forward for the club and there has been a lot of development and progress made within the squad,” he said. “If you look at how close it was [the top eight fight], but how far ahead of the teams behind us we are, there is a definite gap and we have done well.”

Middendorp added that his side had made “stupid mistakes” towards the end of the season that saw them drop out of the top eight, making particular reference to a 2-2 draw at home to Golden Arrows on April 17 when United twice threw away the lead with softly conceded goals.

But the fact that United were not once in danger of relegation is indicative enough of the strides made this season.

“In the history of the club we have always been worried about relegation and it wasn’t mentioned once this season from the start right up until the finish,” said Middendorp. “We have a completely new squad and there is a lot of potential.”

The players will meet today when they will be briefed on what is expected ahead of what will be a short off-season break. Middendorp, whose contract with the club was until the end of this season, is expected to sign a new deal in the coming weeks.

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