Pietermaritzburg - Maritzburg United won the battle of KwaZulu-Natal after a hard-working 2-0 win in their ABSA Premiership derby against AmaZulu at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday night.
In a fairly open match in Pietermaritzburg, Bandile Shandu swept home the opener after 40 minutes.
The visitors enjoyed their fair share of chances, but failed to take them.
They were reduced to 10 men just after the hour when Butholezwe Ncube was sent off after a second yellow card and Siphesihle Ndlovu sealed the win with an injury-time winner.
The hosts made a storming start and should have been ahead in the opening 60 seconds after Fortune Makaringe’s looped over a ball to Andrea Fileccia on the edge of the box on the left, but the Belgian’s first touch was heavy and the shot ended up being a tame one.
Makaringe was responsible for the first shot at the other end too after his slip allowed Siyabonga Nomvethe in, with the veteran forward shooting straight at Richard Ofori.
AmaZulu had another chance in the 17th minute when Ovidy Karuru played a neat one-two with Mabhuti Khenyeza, before wastefully driving his shot across the face of goal.
Midway through the half, Siyethemba Mnguni missed another excellent chance when he was caught in two minds whether to kick or head Nomvethe’s cross. In the end he opted for the latter and poorly nodded wide.
There was finally a real save to make on the hour when Khenyeza’s initial shot ricocheted into the path of Nomvethe, whose 10-yard forced Ofori to parry away for a corner.
At the other end, Bevan Fransman forced Siyabonga Mbatha into a low near-post save from his drilled free-kick as Maritzburg finally tested the visiting goalkeeper.
And the deadlock was finally broken five minutes from half time when Maritzburg’s ploy to change their line of attack paid off. Having unsuccessfully used the left flank for most of their attacks, they decided to go right for a change and Deolin Mekoa, threaded in Maboe in the box, with the ball then squared to Shandu for a simple tap in.
Substitute William Twala had the first chance after the break when he picked up on an Usuthu error and fired low straight at Mbatha.
The visitors then lost Ncube following a second yellow card, but they kept pressing and should have levelled through Sadate Ouro-Akoriko with 17 minutes to play, but the Togo defender planted a free header over.
After Mekoa struck the post, the hosts sealed the win when Ndlovu completed a swift counter-attacked and tapped in from Mohau Mokate's cross.