Remarkable season for United in front of goal, but for all the wrong reasons

2011-02-07 00:00

IT was an all too familiar tale in a match that took an all too familiar pattern for Maritzburg United, as the PMB team again spurned chances and dominance to draw 0-0 against Bloemfontein Celtic in Saturday night’s Premier Soccer League game at Harry Gwala Stadium.

It’s just becoming a remarkable season for United in front of goal, though for all the wrong reasons. Following on from a 1-1 home draw against AmaZulu that could also have ended in three points for United, a pattern that has become almost expected by the home fans continued against Celtic.

The Free Staters never quite looked in the game on Saturday night, so Maritzburg will be even more disappointed at again dropping points at home.

Again the buildups were crisp, quick and enterprising, especially in an entertaining first half. During that period the final pass was even not bad.

But when it came to the finish the final product went off like an unexploded bomb — unexplosive.

Two chances in particular from close range either side of the break by Gert Schalkwyk and Diyo Sibisi should really have been put away.

Celtic coach Clinton Larsen, who saw his side draw their fifth game in succession, showed sympathy for United and opposite number Ernst Middendorp.

“They’re very unfortunate. Their league position really doesn’t tell the true story of the team’s potential,” the former Maritzburg assistant coach said.

“They’re very unfortunate in front of goal and a lot of the games I’ve watched they’ve outplayed the opposition and come away with nothing or a draw.

“But I think if they keep fighting like they did for the coach tonight, things will turn around for them.”

United continued to enjoy a glut of possession in the second half, but ran out of ideas on how to use it, with countless passes in good positions going into no-man’s land.

“It was our third match in a week [including the 3-1 away defeat against Kaizer Chiefs],” Middendorp said. “And Celtic played the last half-hour with six or seven players in defence.

“We tried to pressurise them. But especially with players like Diyo Sibisi and Rudolf Bester, who have moved a lot in the last three matches, you could see the passing was not in an excellent way.”

The United coach said no one could have complained had United beaten Celtic.

“Our structure and build-up look good. The final pass — when you have to pass you dribble, when you have to dribble you shoot, when you should shoot you pass — it’s a problem we are working on and I am quite sure it will come.

“I think of all the points we have picked up until now, there is not even one you could say is a lucky one.”

The coach said United can only try to work on their woeful finishing and hope results are forthcoming.

“I’m not standing here and talking about ‘there’s nothing I can do’. We have to work on it and produce exercises so we can take the chances next time.”

Pleasing for United was that, after a shaky few matches, new German defender Christian Alder had a good game in defence.

“I think he gives a lot on and off the field. He had no preparation time with the team and it’s nice to see him start to fit in,” Middendorp said.

Maritzburg’s next match, on Saturday night, is a crucial one, when the 15th-placed PMB team take on 14th-placed Moroka Swallows at Dobsonville Stadium.

PSL roundup, results and standings, page 23.

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