A night to remember

2014-02-12 00:00

MARITZBURG United were courageous, and punched well above their weight to earn a 2-2 draw against PSL champions Kaizer Chiefs at a packed Harry Gwala Stadium last night.

A second-minute rocket from midfielder Ryan de Jongh got the party started for United, before a Shu-Aib Walters howler allowed Chiefs back in just four minutes later through Kingston Nkatha.

Bongolethu Jayiya’s 36th-minute penalty after Kurt Lentjies had drawn a foul put United back ahead, and Chiefs were made to wait until the 80th minute before they were back on level terms through a Tefu Mashamaite header.

It was a night that Pietermaritzburg will remember for some time to come, and coach Steve Komphela has gotten off to an encouraging start with a win and a draw in his first two matches.

Nobody could argue that the home side didn’t deserve something. They came out with a visible energy and an obvious desire to upset the odds, and they were ahead within 80 seconds when De Jongh’s cracker from just outside the area cannoned in off the left hand upright as Bafana Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune was left helpless in the Chiefs goal.

That goal sent the United bench delirious, but the celebrations were short-lived. A Siphiwe Tshabalala shot from distance shouldn’t have troubled Walters, but the ’keeper tried to catch the ball and instead palmed it up onto the crossbar. Nkatha was first to react, and Walters was left with his head in his hands.

To United’s credit, they continued to look the part, and while Chiefs appeared slightly more comfortable with chances through Tshabalala and Knowledge Musona, the game was still very much in the balance.

That was until the 34th minute, when some nimble feet from Lentjies in the box drew a foul from right back Lorenzo Gordinho.

There was a moment of panic when Lentjies, who had left the field after the foul, was not allowed back on to take the penalty. But Jayiya kept his head and scored from the spot to put United 2-1 up despite Khune guessing the right way when he dived to his left.

United continued to look threatening, and almost went 3-1 up just before half time when centre back Mario Booysen got his head on a Lentjies free kick to force an instinctive save out of Khune.

Walters more than made up for his early howler as the game progressed, and he pulled off quite a miraculous save to stop a powerful Erick Matoho header on 55 minutes.

It appeared as though the home side had just about done enough to cause one of the upsets of the season, but with 10 minutes to play Mashamaite sent the Chiefs fans in the stadium wild when he directed Tshabalala’s free kick past Walters.

The finish was frantic as the visitors went in search of a winner that would have brought their 10th straight PSL win, and half the stadium thought it had happened when substitute Katlego Mphela was one-on-one against Walters, but he put his shot into the side-netting.

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