Unites keeper benched

2012-02-27 00:00

MARITZBURG United went down 1-0 to PSL champions Orlando Pirates in Soweto yesterday after Benni McCarthy scored a contender for goal of the season in the second half.


What was already a tough fixture for the visitors was made even tougher when United’s captain on the day, Peter Petersen, was sent off in the 61st minute.

The result means that United have not scored a goal in the three matches of Ernst Middendorp’s latest stint as coach.

United were dealt a blow before a ball was kicked with regular goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters sidelined with an injury. Veteran Francis Chansa replaced Walters for his second appearance of the season and performed well, which is good for United considering that Middendorp confirmed later that Walters could be out for up to three weeks.

The game never quite got going in the first half, but United seemed more likely to make something happen when Wayne Matle, given a rare start, made a mess of an opportunity 30 minutes in by missing the ball after Petersen had delivered one of his long throws.

With Kurt Lentjies again at the heart of most of United’s attacks and the pace of Nigerian winger Felix Obada welcomed back into the starting line-up, there was a sense of optimism about United and Obada almost gave Middendorp something to smile about when he blasted a shot just wide of Bucs ’keeper Moeneeb Joseph’s goal.

But it was a half to forget as Josephs was only forced to make one save of substance when Lentjies tested him from distance just before the interval.

The quality of football didn’t appear to have improved when the second half got underway, and Pirates struggled to keep hold of the ball in the right areas of the pitch. But when Petersen was shown a second yellow card for a handball with half an hour to play, Pirates were always going to be favourites to score in front of what was a modest crowd. With Pirates coach Julio Leal searching for a winner, former United star Rudolf Bester was replaced by McCarthy in a move that would prove the difference between the sides.

With just 15 minutes remaining in the match, McCarthy momentarily silenced his many weight watchers when he launched himself into an air-born bicycle kick that met an Oupa Manyisa set piece. The contact couldn’t have been sweeter and with his back to goal McCarthy sent Pirates into the lead.

There was a moment of controversy in the game’s final stages when United substitute Prince Olomu tapped in a Mor Diouf flick-on only to have his goal disallowed for being offsides. Replays showed that the correct decision was made and United have now picked up one point from a possible nine since the second half of the season began.

• sport@witness.co.za

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