United snatch win

2015-04-29 00:00

A STOPPAGE-TIME winner from ­substitute Mohau Mokate secured Maritzburg United a 1-0 win over Ajax Cape Town and three invaluable PSL log points at Harry Gwala Stadium last night.

The win solidifies United’s position in the top half of the table with just three fixtures remaining.

United coach Steve Komphela sprung a surprise before kickoff by benching in-form goalkeeper Virgil Vries, opting instead for the experience of Shu-Aib Walters for the first time this year.

It was a decision that would prove crucial, as Walters pulled off a string of stunning saves to keep his side in the game.

Another glaring absentee was on-loan Mamelodi Sundowns centre back Kwanda Mngonyama, who also had to be content with a place amongst the substitutes.

His replacement was David Booysen, who started comfortably alongside Ghanaian John Paintsil.

The opening 20 minutes saw plenty of attacking intent from both sides, but both defences looked solid.

That was until the 22nd minute when a defensive error from United right back Abel Mabaso saw him robbed of the ball by Ajax’s Keagan Dolly. The winger slipped the ball to Abbubaker Mobara, who got his shot away from the edge of the area. But Walters was on hand to take the first step towards justifying his selection, making a fine save to turn the ball around his right hand upright.

That opened the game up somewhat, and Walters was on hand once more on 30 minutes to thwart a Toriq Losper effort after the midfielder found himself with only the goalkeeper to beat.

But perhaps the chance of the first half fell to Ajax on 42 minutes. Franklin Cale whipped in a delightful cross from the left that was met by a charging Mosa Lebusa. The defender was first to the cross as the Maritzburg defence was left ball watching, but his powerful header went wide.

The Team of Choice were by no means outplayed in the first half, but it was the visitors who went into the break in charge after wasting three good ­chances to score.

Within less than a minute of the restart, Dolly waltzed through the defence far too easily and looked a certain scorer. But Walters was on hand once more, making himself big and pulling off a crucial save before Paintsil mopped up on the goal line.

Komphela then sacrificed Mondli Cele for Khumbulani Banda — the Zimbabwean taking up a position on the left wing. It was a move that sparked some life into United, and by the time the final 20 minutes arrived they had started to stretch the Urban Warriors’ defence.

There was a heart-in-mouth moment for the Harry Gwala faithful with 10 minutes to go when Ajax substitute Bantu Mzwakali claimed a penalty after a Ryan de Jongh challenge, but referee Chris Harrison showed the attacker a yellow card instead for simulation.

Just three minutes later, Walters was the hero once more, pulling off a miraculous reflex save to deflect a Lebusa header onto the woodwork.

With five minutes to go, it was Maritzburg who came close. A goal-line scramble saw the ball fall for Lentjies, but his shot was hit straight into traffic.

A frantic finish saw Walters pull off two more top saves before Mokate stole the headlines. With time all but up, Deolin Mekoa crossed the ball into the area where Mokate headed in to leave the stadium delirious.

Last night’s results

Maritzburg United 1 - 0 Ajax Cape Town

University of Pretoria 1 - 1 Moroka Swallows

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