Crucial win for United

2011-01-08 00:00

IT might not always have been pretty and entirely clinical in its execution, but Maritzburg United will take the three points gained from last night’s crucial 1-0 Premier Soccer League victory over Mpumalanga Black Aces at Harry Gwala Stadium.

It was by no means a mistake-free victory. Again, the home team should have scored more goals.

They were easily the more enterprising team and certainly have the greater class over Aces in player power.

But, having deservedly taken the lead through Diyo Sibisi’s strike in the 57th minute, United had some nervous moments at the back and, at the other end, could not produce the killer finish to bury the game with a second goal.

But this was just United’s second victory at home this season, and their third overall. They have played better football, notably in their last match at Harry Gwala — a 2-0 defeat to Free State Stars.

United will certainly have been more pleased to have won slightly scrappily than played beautifully and lost.

And, encouragingly, the PMB team are finally showing tentative signs of building up some sort of momentum, last night’s victory following an impressive away win over Wits University.

New signing Gert Schalkwyk showed plenty of promise over the 90 minutes. United’s other new addition, Fanyana Dhladhla, showed good touches initially as a substitute, but displayed the effects of nearly a year-and-a-half without first team football.

Once again, United could have been 2-0 up in the first half-hour as they pried openings against a decent enough Aces defence.

In the 12th minute a United counter-attack saw Schalkwyk feed Rudolf Bester through, who beat goalkeeper Isaac Chansa to take the ball wide and crossed to find Sibisi in the middle, the striker heading wide with the Aces keeper stranded.

Two minutes later Schalkwyk’s shot was deflected just wide, and in the 20th right-back David Booysen’s attempted cross had to be tipped over the bar by Chansa.

Aces’ new signing Benedict Vilakazi, despite being overweight, showed some characteristically neat touches, and in the 29th minute the “Little Napoleon’s” shot was deflected into the side-netting.

The second half almost started in disastrous fashion for the home side as, in the 54th minute, Lottie Phiri’s squared pass across goal was not cleared and the ball squirted onto the right upright off the legs of substitute Thokozane Khanyile.

That scare spurred United on and their best attacking player, Bester, began foraying dangerously down the left, having been switched to that side after the introduction of Dhladhla on the right at the break.

First Bester found Lentjies, who blasted over from 10 metres.

In the 57th minute the slippery Namibian winger made ground on the left again, passed inside to Sibisi, who finally swept in the finish the home fans had been waiting for.

Having worked so hard to engineer their lead, United could have lost it. In the 78th minute goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters spilled a shot and striker Mpho Maleka’s shot was fortunately directed straight at the legs of defender Mor Diouf.

Bester had the ball in the net soon afterwards after a barrelling Sibisi run, though seemed unlucky to be ruled offside.

With 11 minutes left, Dhladhla was free one on one with Chansa but dithered to allow the keeper to make the save.

The substitute found himself replaced by teenager JB Ncubeni in the 81st.

The SA under-20 international made an almost immediate impact. Released by Kurt Lentjies on the right, Ncubeni cut inside with a scything run to force a save from Chansa, and with the second bite of the cherry his shot was cleared off the line.

Last night: Maritzburg United 1 Mpumalanga Black Aces 0, Santos 3 Lamontville Golden Arrows 1

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