Emphatic victory for United

2012-08-22 00:00

LAST night’s KZN derby was a cagey affair for much of the match, but two second-half goals from Zimbabwean striker Cuthbert Malajila secured a valuable 2-0 victory for Maritzburg United over AmaZulu at Harry Gwala stadium in a PSL clash.

United started brightly against their Durban neighbours, with Mthokozisi Yende looking lively playing just behind Malajila in a lineup that saw coach Ernst Middendorp make just one change from the side that drew 1-1 with Tuks in last weekend’s season opener.

Terrance Mandaza started on the right of midfield in place of Frank Sarfo-Gyamfi and didn’t take long to show that he has the strength and pace to be an ominous force for United this season.

Ruben Cloete and Delron Buckley were combining well on the left flank, and it seemed like coach Ernst Middendorp would get his wish to see his side play a more attacking brand of football.

In the fourth minute, a back pass to Usuthu goalkeeper Mbongeni Mzimela was met with pressure from Yende. Mzimela panicked and his attempted clearance went straight to Mandaza, who whipped in a cross. The ball landed at Malajila’s feet, but his effort from an acute angle went across the face of goal in what was United’s best chance of the first half.

Yende would have a couple of chances of his own from just outside the area, but both of his left-footed efforts were dragged wide of goal as the half drew to a close and a goal seemed unlikely.

At half time Middendorp made his attacking intent clear when he pulled off David Booysen for the more attacking-minded Orlando Smeekes. The move saw Buckley move alongside Morton in the centre while Smeekes took up his position on the left where his pace was evident.

United’s centre-back pairing of Mohomad Awal and Mario Booysen continued to deal with Usuthu’s aerial threats and the home side appeared comfortable defensively.

It took something special to break the deadlock.

In the 65th minute, a moment of masterful trickery from Buckley created space for the former Bafana Bafana man to shoot. His powerful left-footed effort was blocked by AmaZulu goalkeeper Mbongeni Mzimela, but Malajila was first to react to the rebound and smashed the ball home from point blank range to put the Team of Choice ahead.

That was the goal the game needed all along and as AmaZulu went in search of an equaliser, there was some free flowing football seen from both sides in the last 25 minutes.

Just 12 minutes after Buckley’s wizardry created the first goal, it was Yende’s turn to play creator. An inch-perfect through ball from the former Kaizer Chiefs man put Malajila one-on-one with Mzimela after the AmaZulu line had mistimed their implementation of the offsides trap. Malajila made no mistake, and his composed finish kissed the left hand upright before going in and getting United closer to victory.

United now have four points from their first two matches and Middendorp praised last night’s team effort.

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