Fans carry Alex High home

2013-04-16 00:00

THE Nashua Maritzburg United Midlands Schools Soccer Challenge resumed at Harry Gwala Stadium yesterday, where a highly entertaining first leg quarter-final saw Alexandra High trump Sobantu Secondary 2-1.

With Alex the home team for the first leg, Sobantu will at least take comfort in the fact that they have an away goal to their names before Friday’s second leg at the same venue.

The match was the perfect advertisement for schoolboy soccer. The main grandstand at Harry Gwala, usually occupied by Team of Choice fans, was yesterday a platform for large, animated and vocal groups of supporters from both schools who got behind their teams.

The match was frantic from the beginning, and it was clear from the early stages that there was little separating the sides. Alex goalkeeper Thabani Khumalo made two fine saves early on in the encounter — both of which were met by a rapturous applause from the Alex supporters who had made the short journey from the school to the stadium.

But once the novelty of playing at the home of PSL football in Maritzburg had worn off, it was the Alex boys who started to dominate proceedings.

Zano Kunene was wasteful with a good chance before Qiniso Mkhizo found himself one-on-one with Sobantu shot stopper Sanele Khanyele. Mkhizo’s effort lobbed over the line to fire Alex into a 1-0 lead.

Sobantu, to their credit, were a different side in the second half.

With Alex seemingly complacent with their one-goal lead, holes in their defence began to appear more and more regularly as a determined Sobantu outfit threw men forward in search of an equaliser.

How Simlindile Madondo managed to miss an opportunity to equalise was beyond everyone in the ground — his smashed effort from no more than two metres away sailing over the bar in a moment that saw the Sobantu coach running back into the change room in disbelief. Just moments later, Nkanyiso Nene amazed everyone when his shot from serious distance cannoned back off the Alex crossbar.

But Sobantu were rewarded for their attacking intensity when substitute Thabiso Shange levelled matters with a close range header to make it 1-1 — a result that would probably have been fair to both sides.

But the goal got the Alex boys playing some good football again, and they were back in the lead just a few minutes later when Thando Mkhize had a shot saved by Khanyele before smashing in the rebound.

The first leg of the fourth quarter-final between Maritzburg College and Carter High School will take place tomorrow in a 4 pm kickoff at Harry Gwala. The match serves as the curtain raiser to United’s PSL clash with Golden Arrows tomorrow night.

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