United rescue a draw

2014-08-09 00:00


(Mashego 2’)


(awal 90’)

MARITZBURG United were 1-0 down inside 75 seconds against champions Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus in Pretoria last night, and they equalised with about 75 seconds remaining in the match to salvage a 1-1 draw in the 2014/15 PSL opener.

United coach Steve Komphela had fielded three debutants in Sheldon van Wyk, Mohau Mokate and Deolin Mekoa, but the newbies had barely had a touch before Katlego Mashego put the home side ahead with a simple tap in from an acute angle.

The United defence was nowhere — centre backs Mohammed Awal and David Booysen failing to deal with first a corner and then a ball floated in from the right while Shu-Aib Walters in goal had put himself in no man’s land.

Maritzburg recovered well from the goal and although they struggled to hold onto the ball for extended periods, there were glimpses that they may be able to break down the Sundowns defence. Not afraid to play the ball out from the back, United’s passing game showed plenty of promise though Downs ’keeper Wayne Sandilands went largely untested in the opening 45.

Walters, on the other hand, remained uncertain in goal as the Maritzburg defence continued to look shaky. As half time approached another moment of madness from Ghanaian Awal gifted Sundowns striker Mame Niang a one-on-one chance, but he dragged his shot wide and left and United somehow got through to half time just one goal down.

The second half started with United looking far more the part, and with Van Wyk emerging as the most impressive of the three debutants from the left wing in the opening 10 minutes after the restart. It was thus a little surprising to see Van Wyk replaced by another debutant in Mondli Cele on 58 minutes.

United captain Ashley Harthog was winning a lot of ball in the middle of the park, and United were every bit as good as their opposition for the remainder of the second stanza.

But still Sandilands went untroubled as the visitors failed to create any clear cut chances.

To add insult to injury, Downs coach Pitso Mosimane brought on new signing and former Maritzburg centre back Mario Booysen for the final 20 minutes to help protect the lead.

But Maritzburg would have the last laugh. With seconds remaining in normal time, substitute Cele was bundled over in the Downs penalty area by Niang, and referee Victor Gomes was left with no option but to point to the spot. Awal, somewhat unexpectedly, stepped up to take the penalty and he sent Sandilands the wrong way, buried the ball in the left hand corner and rescued a point for Maritzburg.

“A poor decision from the referee cost us,” a distraught Niang told SuperSport after the match.

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