United run out of Steam

2009-01-21 00:00

IF Maritzburg United continue to show the fighting spirit they did in their 3-1 Premier Soccer League defeat against SuperSport United at Woodburn Stadium yesterday, they should be safe this season.

It was a defeat for United, but should not be seen as too great a setback. A bigger crowd turned out at Woodburn yesterday than in the team’s 2-0 victory over Ajax Cape Town on Saturday, hoping to see another upset result, but had to leave disappointed.

Champions SuperSport went to the top of the log, a point clear of Ajax, though the Capetonians have a game in hand. United remain in second-last place.

The cards were always going to be stacked against United playing the physical, well-organised champions without four key players – left-wing Tony Tsabedze, Fadlu Davids, Sam Ndlovu and Fanyana Dhladhla.

For United this was their fourth gruelling fixture in 11 days, as opposed to SuperSport’s third, since the return of the league from the Christmas break. And the PMB team had run their legs off against Ajax just four days previously.

And yet, United shaded domination in the first half and, having fought back from a goal down to be 1-1 at the break, another upset seemed tentatively on the cards.

But weary legs, and the 56th minute substitution of United’s best player until that moment, cramping left-back Gary Goldstone, saw the team capitulate.

United now must lift themselves for an away fixture against Kaizer Chiefs in Rustenburg on Saturday, and “cup final” at home to last-placed Bloemfontein Celtic on Wednesday.

“Gary Goldstone going off for us was crucial,” coach Gordon Igesund said. “He hasn’t played for eight weeks, and was cramping up in the last 15 minutes against Ajax. Yesterday he told me at half-time his legs were gone.

“We’ve had four games in 11 days and I haven’t been able to rest players. Tomorrow [today] I’m not going to do any training and get the guys into some ice baths, and get some masseurs in.”

United could have taken the lead in the fourth minute when Peter Petersen’s cross eluded the defence, and unmarked Brice Aka took too much time to shoot, allowing Denis Onyango to pull off a good save. Two minutes later SuperSport were ahead, Morgan Gould rising unmarked to head in Elias Pelembe’s corner.

Defender Siphiwe Mkhonza’s long throws troubled the SuperSport defence all afternoon and it was from one of these that United equalised in the 18th minute, with the visitors’ defence allowing the ball to bounce and Lynch Pule heading in.

A misunderstanding between SuperSport goalkeeper Denis Onyango and defender Rudi Isaacs in the 40th minute saw Bongani Khumalo having to clear from in front of the line with Elias Ngwepe steaming in.

In the second half, United’s defence became increasingly ragged and SuperSport rocked the crossbar with two free headers from Bongani Khumalo and Pelembe.

After Aka again dallied too long from point-blank range after a mazy run by Sipho Mngomezulu, SuperSport took back the lead with 20 minutes to go.

This time Mozambican man-of-the- match Pelembe made no mistake with another unchallenged header from Anthony Laffor’s cross.

SuperSport were practically walking through a leaden-legged defence, as Excellent Walaza’s shot was saved onto the right upright by goalkeeper Tashreeq Goldman.

In the 92nd minute, the United keeper parried a shot from substitute David Nkausu and the rebound fell to Pelembe on the left edge of the area, whose shot screamed into the top-left corner.

Yesterday: Maritzburg United 1 Supersport United 3, Lamontville Golden Arrows 1, Free State Stars 1.

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