Maritzburg fearless for Chiefs match despite draw

2014-09-15 00:00

MARITZBURG United had to settle for a 0-0 draw against Mpumalanga Black Aces at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday despite playing the final 25 minutes against 10 men.

Aces fullback Lehlohonolo Nonyane was sent off in the 65th minute after a second yellow card, but United, who had dominated the match up until that point, could not use the extra man to find the back of the net.

“It was not disappointing per se, but we should have done better,” Maritzburg coach Steve Komphela told The Witness after the game.

Aces coach Clive Barker, on the other hand, was counting his blessings.

“A point is marvellous and we were very lucky,” he said.

The facts are that Maritzburg had the lion’s share of the chances but, despite fielding two strikers in Mohammed Anas and Terrance Mandaza, they could not convert any of them.

The result was a frustrating afternoon for the Harry Gwala faithful, who witnessed Mandaza and central midfielder Thami Mkhize draw good saves out of Aces goalkeeper Energy Murambandoro in the first half.

United’s Zimbabwean signing Khumbulani Banda was most menacing for the home side on the left wing – a combination of his physicality and pace causing constant problems for Aces right back Jomo Gumede.

But despite their dominance, Maritzburg’s display lacked the cutting execution that was evident in the 3-0 win over Chippa United last month. The side appeared flatter, though there remains no question that they were the better side on the day.

Abel Mabaso rattled the crossbar on the hour mark with a header from Mkhize’s corner, and there was sense then that this would not be Maritzburg’s day.

But then the red card came, and the Team of Choice shifted up a gear as they backed themselves to capitalise on the situation. But by that stage, Barker had had enough, and he instructed his already defensively minded outfit to completely retreat. They bashed away, but still Maritzburg couldn’t find a way through.

Aces nearly grabbed all three points four minutes from time when substitute Collins Mbesuma smashed a left-footed volley against the right upright, but that travesty was averted an the spoils were shared.

“When they [Aces] went down to 10 men each of them knew that they had to put in more effort,” Komphela added, explaining the difficulties of playing against a side with 10 men. “Whenever there is a threat you are likely to be more cautious. Unfortunately we couldn’t win it.”

Maritzburg now have two weeks off before travelling to Johannesburg for a date with log leaders Kaizer Chiefs, who are six from six so far this season.

“If you belong to this league you must have no fear,” Komphela said of the daunting trip. “Whoever is fearful must move out of the PSL.”

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