United show plenty of character in Tuks draw

2012-08-13 00:00

IT may not have been the result that coach Ernst Middendorp was looking for, but Maritzburg United showed plenty of character by scoring in the 90th minute to draw 1-1 with PSL newcomers University of Pretoria in their season opener at Tuks Stadium yesterday.

The goal was scored by a towering Mario Booysen, who headed a Peter Petersen cross home after a frustrating afternoon for United.

Middendorp’s starting line-up included six of his new signings, and the experience of Delron Buckley caused problems for the Tuks defence on both wings. But even with the lion’s share of the ball possession, United struggled to create any clear chances and the first half was largely uneventful — midfielder Michael Morton coming closest to breaking the deadlock with a driven effort from just outside the area.

Tuks coach Steve Barker must have done something right at half time, because the home team looked like a different side after the break.

Though United were relatively comfortable at the back with Booysen partnered by another new signing in Ghanaian Mohamed Awal, Tuks took the lead in the 50th minute through a new signing of their own — David Radebe. The striker made a run and found himself on the end of a through ball that split Awal and Booysen down the centre of the park before casually passing the ball into the net past a helpless Shu-Aib Walters in the United goal.

That goal hit United hard, and with further newcomers Mthokozisi Yende and Frank Sarfo-Gyamfi struggling to make an impression in the midfield, Middendorp turned to his bench and Dutchman Orlando Smeekes was introduced to support Yende and Cuthbert Malajila up front.

The move proved a good one with Smeekes immediately looking dangerous when on the ball.

Tuks were reduced to 10 men with just three minutes to go when Sepeke Manamela received a second yellow card for a foul on Buckley. It was not the first time that a Tuks player had gone in hard on the former Bafana Bafana ace, who was clearly a marked man and will wake up today feeling the effects of some crunching and often illegal tackles.

The red card helped United, and when Booysen put United level, Middendorp would have been hoping for a winner with four minutes of injury time remaining.

But it was not to be and the coach was satisfied with a point.

“It is a good result for us after being 1-0 down,” he said after the match. “We still have the issue of unification and this is normal with a group of new players.”

The Team of Choice’s next tie is at home to AmaZulu on August 21.

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