United keeper fends of Arrows

2011-09-19 00:00

MARITZBURG United maintained their undefeated status this PSL season by defeating Lamontville Golden Arrows 2-0 in a KwaZulu-Natal derby at the Harry Gwala Stadium yesterday afternoon.

A goal in each half, the first from Felix Obada and the second from Kurt Lentjies, was enough for Ian Palmer’s team to move up to fifth position on the log after five rounds of fixtures.

United started the game brightly, looking to move the ball forward whenever possible, but it was Arrows who would threaten to score first with captain Thanduyise Khuboni latching onto a volley that United goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters did well to tip over the bar.

That was as close as Arrows would come in the first half, though, as two minutes later Obada showed relentless determination in chasing down a ball that Arrows seemed to have control of. A lapse in concentration from Arrows centre back Robin Johannes gave Obada a second, and that was all the Nigerian needed to steal the ball from the defender and blast it into the top right corner.

Arrows got stronger as the half grew longer, and appeared to benefit from the two minute water break that the PSL officials had allowed midway through the first period as a result of the hot Maritzburg weather.

By the end of the half, Arrows seemed to be the stronger side but were unable to make use of the ball in the final third of the pitch and seldom threatened Walters’ goal.

Arrows coach, and former United boss, Ernst Middendorp walked down the tunnel at the break a picture of rage as he shook his head and spoke to himself, clearly unhappy with his side’s display.

It looked as though his half-time talk might have done the trick, too, as Arrows started the second half looking like a side capable of scoring. Winger Katlego Mashego came close in the 53rd minute, blazing over Walters’ right hand upright from just inside the area.

It was in the 57th minute when the game really came alight. With Arrows pushing players further up the park in search of an equaliser, United’s lone striker Diyo Sibisi was put through on goal by a precise Prince Olomu pass.

Taking the ball into the 18-yard area, Sibisi rounded Arrows ‘keeper Virgil Vries and dropped to ground, claiming that Vries had knocked him off balance.

The referee’s whistle had United fans roaring as they thought Sibisi had won them a penalty, only for the striker to be booked for diving.

The decision kept Arrows in the game, and the Durban outfit nearly levelled matters a minute later through a long range bullet from defender Jabulani Nene — with Walters once again up to the task and pushing the ball over the bar.

It was end-to-end football and United should have put the game to bed moments later when Obada was put through for a golden opportunity by Sibisi.

One-on-one against Vries, Obada tried to pass the ball into the bottom, left corner of the goal, only for Vries to stick out a foot in what was possibly the save of the match.

Two more chances for Arrows, from striker Collins Mbesuma and Mashego, followed but a combination of poor finishing and Walters, having a good day, kept the score at 1-0.

That was until the 79th minute when Obada was brought down by Musa Bilankulu on the edge of the area and United were awarded a free kick.

Lentjies stepped up and slotted the ball home, to the left of a diving Vries.

United managed to kill off the game after that and are now one of only two PSL sides, the other being SuperSport United, who have not tasted defeat this season.

United’s next match is away at Black Leopards on Saturday.

See tomorrow’s Witness for Palmer’s reaction to the match and the Maritzburg United player ratings. E-mail your player ratings to sport@witness.co.za and we will include them in the “fan ratings”.

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