Maritzburg shine in second half

2014-04-19 00:00

MARITZBURG United victories are not rare these days, but club captain Michael Morton did provide somewhat of a collector’s item when he found the back of the net in last night’s 2-0 win over Ajax Cape Town at Harry Gwala Stadium.

It was the first goal of the central midfielder’s professional career and it came 15 minutes after Bongolethu Jayiya’s 49th minute finish had put United ahead.

The win sees coach Steve Komphela’s charges move ahead of Tuks and into 11th place on the PSL table, just one point behind Ajax in 10th.

The first half last night was forgettable for both sides and it appeared that those who had made their way to Harry Gwala were in for a boring Good Friday night.

While chances were few and far between in the opening exchanges, it was the Urban Warriors who should have taken the lead as early as the eighth minute when Tashreeq Morris squandered a golden opportunity when he had been put in one-on-one against Shu-Aib Walters, but his effort was tame and hit straight at the goalkeeper.

United would manufacture chances of their own through in-form Zimbabwean striker Terrance Mandaza and Namibian winger Heinrich Isaacks, but a combination of good goalkeeping from Anssi Jaakkola and poor finishing from United kept the sides deadlocked at half time.

But, as has often been the case at Harry Gwala this season, United came out strong in the second half and it wasn’t long before there was reason to celebrate.

Just four minutes after the restart Ruben Cloete found himself in acres of space down the left wing before delivering his ball into the area. Isaacks, not the tallest man that football has ever seen, rose above the Ajax defence to nod the ball down for Jayiya, who blasted home past a helpless Jaakkola.

The home side looked good value for their lead and were gifted a penalty on 64 minutes when Nhlanhla Vilakazi was chopped down in the area by Nazeer Allie.

Morton claimed the spot kick and was the coolest man in United as he passed the ball into the net to secure the points for his side.

“Everybody on the bench wanted him to score that one, we are all very happy for him,” United coach Steve Komphela said of Morton, who will be leaving the Midlands for Pretoria at the end of the season, where he has signed a pre-contract with SuperSport United.

“Who knows, that could be his goodbye to Maritzburg.”

Ajax threw men forward in search of a goal and a way back into the match, but Walters was having one of those nights and he pulled off a sharp reflex save to deny Eleazar Rodgers from a close range header with just 10 minutes remaining.

For Komphela, though, there is still room for improvement.

“I thought we were good in the second half and a 2-0 win at home to Ajax is something that you have to be happy with,” said the coach. “But I keep saying that we need to be more ruthless in front of goal.”

There were slight concerns over Mario Booysen and Thami Mkhize, who both limped off the field in the second half.

United are next in action on April 26, when they travel to Wits for their penultimate league game of the season.

The big one, though, remains the Nedbank Cup semi-final against Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala on May 3, before the season closing and potentially title deciding visit from Mamelodi Sundowns on May 10.

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