United stretch Bucs

2010-11-27 00:00

THEY might have lost 2-1, but Maritzburg United still proved a point in defeat in a high-intensity Premier Soccer League grudge game against Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala Stadium last night.

After their ill-tempered 3-0 Telkom Knockout semi-final defeat against the Buccaneers at Chatsworth Stadium on Sunday, where United allowed anger at having their home ground advantage taken away by the PSL to cloud their football, last night the home team stretched Pirates.

This was all United wanted in the first place — to go into a game as underdogs against an admittedly superior team, and fight for a result on a level playing field.

Bucs had the greater class, the better of the game, and shaded the clearcut chances. But the Soweto giants will be the first to admit it was perhaps one of their most difficult victories gained this season.

It has been a feature of Ruud Krol’s team that they play with a high intensity, and even more so against opponents who put them under pressure. Pirates were again able to step up the gear they needed last night, but only just.

Almost unbelievably, though, United found themselves playing the referee for a second week running.

In the first half the visiting team conceded close to 10 free-kicks in their own half without seeing a yellow card from ref Jacob Frolick. Yet it was United who went into the break with two bookings, one for Kurt Lentjies for taking a free-kick too quickly, and the other to Diyo Sibisi for an innocuous challenge on Lucky Lekgwathi.

United, though, would spend their energy better working on an attack that still lacks cohesion and composure in the final third than whingeing about referees.

As expected Krol rested key players ahead of next Saturday’s Telkom final against Kaizer Chiefs. Rooi Mahamutsa, Andile Jali, Daine Klate and Dikgang Mabalane made way for Lucky Lekwathi, Happy Jele, Teko Modise and Phenyo Mongala.

The first half seemed to be taking a familiar pattern to the one set in Chatsworth. Again United were on the attack from the start, and again Pirates scored against the run of play.

After Ezenwa Otorogu’s header and Thulasizwe Mbuyane’s shot threatened Maritzburg’s goal, the home team began to stream forward. In the 11th minute Musa Nyatama beat Jele on the left and his squared ball reached Chilis Madondo, whose shot was touched toward goal by Lentjies, with Josephs diving to save one-handed. Then Lentjies’s free-kick was squared across the goalmouth by Byron Hendricks, with Diyo Sibisi just unable to get a touch in the centre.

Pirates opened the scoring on the half-hour, Mongala’s corner falling for defender Robyn Johannes just outside the area, whose shot was cracked in past Walters.

In the 42nd minute Walters produced an outstanding diving save to keep out Otorogu’s looping header. The game didn’t stop to take a breath in the second half. This was even more so after United equalised in the 54th minute. From a free-kick, Lentjies cheekily bent the ball to the right of the wall, with Josephs stranded.

The goal was followed by a missile from Rudolf Bester that forced another super save from Josephs. Walters produced a stop of equal quality to deny Mbuyane’s shot in the 66th.

Krol’s 67th-minute introduction of lightning midfielder Tlou Segolela for Modise was instrumental in keeping the home team pinned back in the last 20 minutes.

It should have been 2-1 to Pirates in the 76th minute, when United defender Elias Ngwepe stood off a square-pass from Otorogu, allowing Segolela to get a touch onto the left upright.

Bucs got their winner with seven minutes to go when Mbuyane beat Ngwepe on the right then beat Walters. Fabian McCarthy was only able to touch the ball into his own net.

Last night: Ajax Cape Town 3 Wits University 1, Maritzburg United 1 Orlando Pirates 2


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