United share spoils

2014-11-06 00:00

STEVE Komphela’s Maritzburg United and Ernst Middendorp’s Bloemfontein Celtic cancelled each other in an intriguing yet frustrating 0-0 PSL draw at Harry Gwala Stadium last night.

The result means that Maritzburg remain undefeated at home this season.

Celtic unsurprisingly arrived as a well-oiled unit. Comfortable on the ball and easy on the eye, it was the visitors who settled quickest.

With holding midfielder Musa Nyatama bossing the middle of the park, it soon looked like it was going to be a tough night for Maritzburg.

Flashy winger Dumisani Zuma was making a nuisance of himself down the right flank, causing problems for United’s Kumbulani Banda and the rest of the back four. Still, it was United who came closest to opening the scoring as early as the sixth minute, when Thokozani Sekotlong whipped in a corner from the left hand side.

Central midfielder Thami Mkhize had made a charging run to the near post and he was first to the ball — his glanced header flying agonisingly over the bar.

That would be the chance of the half up until the 33rd minute when Celtic finally managed to use their dominance to create a decent scoring opportunity.

The United defence had been solid enough, but they were left for dead when striker Lerato Lamola was slipped through the last line to find himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Virgil Vries.

The Namibian international was brave, making himself as big as possible as Lamola’s shot cannoned straight into his midsection and the score remained goalless.

The match had opened up by the half time whistle, but though United found themselves in their opponents’ half more and more, they looked a far cry from the attacking enterprise that Harry Gwala has grown accustomed to seeing this season. Komphela was quick to turn to his bench as the second half kicked off, bringing on the soft-footed Kurt Lentjies on 50 minutes to face his former employers. But still it was Celtic who had the better chances.

First, Alfred Ndengane headed narrowly wide from a cross from the right hand side, and then on the hour mark a Ruben Cloete shot from distance was deflected before Vries made a sharp save to his right hand side.

Komphela then withdrew the largely ineffective Terrance Mandaza up front for Ghanaian Mohammed Anas, and United were clearly getting amped for a strong finish to the match.

It worked, as the Team of Choice showed more energy, passion and intent in the final 25 minutes.

On 66 minutes they nearly took the lead. Nhlanhla Vilakazi nodded down an Abel Mabaso cross from the right, and Anas was first to react.

The substitute’s shot was hit with venom, but straight at Celtic keeper Patrick Tignyemb as the home fans thought for a second that their side had gone ahead.

There would be further chances for Ndengane and Vilakazi, but in the end a draw was a result that both managers would surely have accepted.

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