Jubilation as United blow Pirates off the pitch at home

2010-02-18 00:00

IF ever there was a party seen in Pietermaritzburg it was last night at Harry Gwala Stadium where a Maritzburg United side, playing like men possessed, beat Orlando Pirates 2-1 in their Premier Soccer League fixture.

United’s fans might or might not have outnumbered their Pirates counterparts, but they certainly out-voiced them, and in this sort of atmosphere, despite a nail-biting finish, there only ever seemed to be one team who would win on the night.

The home side simply blasted Pirates off the pitch in the first 45 minutes to engineer a 2-0 lead, then defended strongly enough to only concede the single goal.

Ernst Middendorp take a bow. The German was voted coach of the century by the supporters of Bundesliga club Arminia Bielefeld and United are starting to see why.

Since his arrival, Middendorp has forged United into a dangerous, slick combination. A structured pattern that permeates from the defence to the forwards is complemented by a thrilling attacking approach when in possession.

Last night Musa Nyatama and youngster Chilis Madondo won the battle in central midfield.

This freed up the dangerous attacking trio of Kurt Lentjies, Felix Obada and Rudolf Bester to run Pirates ragged in what could rightfully be called the best-ever first-half display by United, and provide a superb service for workhorse striker Fadlu Davids.

It was supposed to be United’s evening to absorb pressure and hit Bucs on the counter.

But in the opening half the home side had no absorbing to do because it was Maritzburg doing all the attacking — and in a dashing, adventurous, swashbuckling manner that would have befitted the name of their illustrious opponents.

The victory leaves United in ninth place on 33 points and still very much in the top eight race after eighth-placed Moroka Swallows’ match against Mamelodi Sundowns in Pretoria was abandoned last night when the floodlights went out with the Birds 2-0 up.

Bucs were on the ropes from the moment Bester’s long-range shot, which was followed soon after by a similar effort by Obada, slipped just wide of Moeneeb Josephs’s goal in the fifth minute.

In the 18th minute Josephs had to make a fingertip save to keep out a touch from Obada after Lentjies’s free-kick was won in the area by a United head. From the resultant corner Josephs was at full stretch again to deny the same combination.

With United showing no signs of letting up, a goal had to come for the home side, which it did after Davids won a corner on the right. From Lentjies’s delivery Davids’s header cannoned in off Mahamutsa Rooi on the line.

Seven minutes later an already stunned Bucs went a further goal down. Again it was another superb set-piece from Lentjies, this time a free-kick from the left, that was headed by Davids for Josephs to parry and central defender Mario Booysen slammed in a finish from close range for his second goal against Pirates in as many games.

It could have been a third three minutes later when Obada was put through on the right by Bester and struck his shot too close to Josephs.

United could never have maintained the same pace in the second half and understandably consolidated and defended their lead. This worked effectively for the first half-hour.

But in the 72nd minute, with Pirates piling on the pressure, Andile Jali was allowed space to blast in from the edge of the area and pull a goal back.

Maritzburg immediately went on the attack again and within seconds Musa Nyatama steered his shot onto the upright.

Thulasizwe Mbuyane had his chances to equalise with two shots saved by United goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters and a third that struck the upright.

Three minutes into injury time Walters pulled off an unbelievable diving save, which must rank as one of the stops of the season, to deny the screaming 25-metre shot of substitute Siphelele Mthembu.

Yesterday: Wits University 0 Santos 3, AmaZulu 1 Free State Stars 0, Maritzburg United 2 Orlando Pirates 1, Platinum Stars 0 SuperSport United 1, Mamelodi Sundowns v Moroka Swallows – abandoned

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