Black Aces trump AmaZulu in a thrilling PSL encounter

2013-08-28 00:00

AMAZULU thought they had snuck a point, but a last-minute winner from Themba Zwane secured a 2-1 win for Mpumalanga Black Aces in a thrilling PSL encounter at Princess Magogo Stadium last night.

The men from Durban were poor for most of the night, and had Aces been more clinical in front of goal after a cracker from left back Omar Hendricks had given them the lead, then the winning margin could have been more.

There was to be late drama as right back Bonginkosi Macala levelled matters for the hosts with just eight minutes remaining, but it became irrelevant as Zwane reclaimed the lead for the visitors in the 92nd minute.

Usuthu coach Craig Rosslee, with all of his new signings this season, fielded two debutants in Namibian winger Sadney Urikhob and Macala.

The start to the match was lively on a humid Durban evening. Both sides made their attacking intent clear early on, doing well to string some combinations together on a pitch that Rosslee had voiced his disapproval at earlier in the week.

It was Clive Barker’s visitors who came closest early on, when striker Mabhudi Khenyeza caught the Usuthu defence napping before his powerful effort deflected out for a corner.

That started a period of defensive uncertainty for the hosts, who scrapped their way through the next few minutes to keep the scores level.

It all made for some exciting football, but Aces’ pressure paid off through something special on 19 minutes when Hendricks was allowed space to venture forward from just inside the AmaZulu half. The result was a left-footed thunderbolt from 25 yards that left AmaZulu keeper Aubrey Mathibe helpless as the ball rocketed into the top left corner to make it 1-0.

The goal didn’t do much to fire up Rosslee’s men either, and they were nearly 2-0 down when Nigerian striker Okonkwo Onyekachi capitalised on more sloppy defending in the AmaZulu area only to see his close range effort scrambled away by a sprawled Mathibe.

AmaZulu were lucky to go into break just one down after Thabo Qalinge was denied by a Marc van Heerden block after Aces had, not for the first time, shredded the Usuthu defence.

Rosslee is not known for having the calmest head in football, and one can only imagine how furious he would have been when delivering his half-time team talk following what was a poor defensive performance from his side in the first 45.

It resulted in two changes at half time, with new signings Mohammed-Awal Issah and Nkosinathi Mthiyane replacing the ineffectual Letlandi Madubanya and Goodman Dlamini.

AmaZulu were better in the third quarter of the match, though not much. Kulegani Madondo became more influential in the centre of the park, but still Rosslee’s men couldn’t manufacture any decent opportunities.

Khenyeza and the rest of the Aces attackers continued to benefit from AmaZulu’s defensive blunders, but couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard.

And they were made to pay with just eight minutes left when Macala’s run down the right flank saw him receive the ball after good link up play between strikers Bongani Ndulula and substitute Sthembiso Ngcobo. The right back made no mistake from close range and sent the home fans ecstatic.

There is no doubt that Rosslee would have been satisfied with a draw given his side’s display, but Usuthu hearts sank when Khenyeza — dangerous all night — saw his shot saved before the ball fell to Zwane who put the game to bed.

AmaZulu now have three points from their opening two fixtures.

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