Tuks still beat United despite being a man down

2015-03-09 00:00

MARITZBURG United played against 10 men for 65 minutes yesterday, but that could not prevent them from slumping to a 1-0 loss at the University of Pretoria.

Tuks had taken the lead through ­Atusaye Nyondo in the sixth minute, but they were rocked just 20 minutes later when Vuyisile Ntombayithethi was shown a second yellow card after hacking down Kurt Lentjies.

The sending off allowed Maritzburg back into the game after they had been completely outplayed by Tuks in the opening half hour. The hosts were playing with the freedom that comes with understanding each other, and their movement on and off the ball allowed for silky-smooth buildups. This was evident in their goal as a simple yet elegant sequence of passing left the Maritzburg defence flat-footed and Virgil Vries helpless in goal as Nyondo tapped in for the easiest of finishes to make it 1-0.

After the card, and especially in the second half, Tuks dropped deeper and allowed Maritzburg more of the ball. The chances would come for the visitors, but the finishing was of the poorest quality. Ghanaian striker Mohammed Anas was as hungry as ever, but while his shots were hit with venomous power they lacked direction.

Mohau Mokate was given a start alongside Anas, and he too was wasteful with the few chances that did come his way before being withdrawn for Zimbabwean target man Terrance Mandaza.

Lentjies, enjoying a run in the starting lineup in the absence of the injured Ashley Hartog, was again the conductor in the Maritzburg orchestra. Most of United’s attacks started with a Lentjies vision, and though coach Steve Komphela’s men moved the ball well in the second half, they could not find a way past Washington Arubi in the Tuks goal.

The ’keeper was in fine form throughout the 90 minutes, and he showed superb agility to deny Kwanda Mngonyama from distance and then substitute Mondli Cele from a powerful header. Perhaps the best chance for Maritzburg came in the final quarter of the match, when Thokozani Sekotlong found himself on the end of a cross from the left. It appeared harder to miss than to score from that distance, but Sekotlong managed to do just that as his header somehow fizzed past the left-hand upright.

The loss means that Maritzburg and coach Steve Komphela have now gone nine matches (eight league, one cup) without a win. There is certainly cause for concern, and with each failed week a top eight finish for the Team of Choice becomes less likely. The looks on the faces of club chair Farouk Kadodia and team manager Quintin Jettoo, who were in the stands at Tuks Stadium, showed exactly how serious a situation Maritzburg currently find themselves in.

“If people hit a purple patch there is nothing you can do about it,” Komphela said after the match, making reference to Tuks’ eight-match unbeaten run. “Whether you call it luck or whatever it is, there is no way you can have a one- man advantage for almost the whole match and not win the match.

“Forget the number of chances that we created, it is just illogical. But there is nothing that you can do, you just have to accept it and move on.”

But moving on may not be that easy. United host log leaders and title favourites Kaizer Chiefs at Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday night and they cannot afford to be so careless in front of goal.

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