Maritzburg steal it at death v Stars

Maritzburg United moved up to eighth place on the Absa Premiership log thanks to a 2-1 victory over Platinum Stars at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Sunday, with Mohau Mokate scoring a late winner.

Following a midweek victory over leaders Kaizer Chiefs, the Team of Choice have now picked up back-to-back wins for just the second time this season. Dikwena remain in a lowly 13th place, with this loss their 10th in the league in 2014/15.

Maritzburg were comfortably the better team in the first half and deserved to have more than a 1-0 lead heading into the halftime break. They almost opened the scoring as early as the 11th minute through Ryan De Jong, whose fearsome long-range shot was tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe.

The Botswana gloves-man made a couple of fine saves to deny headers from Kurt Lentjies before United deservedly claimed the lead through Deolin Mekoa in the 28th minute. The young forward received a pass from Mohammed Anas just inside the penalty area and took advantage of the space given to him by Stars’ defenders to turn and fire home a left-footed shot.

The Team of Choice should have added to their lead in the 40th minute. Lentjies provided a brilliant pass to put the overlapping Thamsanqa Mkhize in behind the defence, who in turn played a teasing pass across the face of goal. Mondli Cele arrived the back post to meet the ball, but struck it over the target under pressure from a defender.

Dikwena made a tactical change early in the second half, with the more attack-minded Robert Ng’ambi replacing defensive midfielder Solomon Mathe. The hosts picked up their game following the introduction of the Malawian playmaker, but not enough to really test Virgil Vries in the visitors’ goal.

The match seemed destined to end 1-0 in favour of United, but two late goals ensured a dramatic finish to the encounter. First, Ndumiso Mabena broke a scoring drought in the league that stretched back to early December when he got ahead of his marker to turn home a cross in the 87th minute and make it 1-1.

However, Maritzburg reclaimed the lead in the final minute of regulation time through substitute Mohou Mokate, who fired home from close range after brilliant set-up play by Lentjies. The midfielder fought his way to the right by-line before pulling back a perfect pass that put the goal on a plate for his teammate.

Platinum Stars (0) 1 (Mabena 87’)

Maritzburg United (1) 2 (Mekoa 28’, Mokate 90’)

Teams:

Platinum Stars: Dambe, Mere, Tshikovi, Sithole, Masenamela, Nyanda (Kaunda 65’), Madubanya, Mathe (Ng’ambi 49’), Tshabalala (Moon 74’), Mabena, Rodgers

Maritzburg United: Vries, Mabaso (Vilakazi 69’), Mngonyama, P. Zulu, Pantsil, Mkhize, De Jong, Lentjies, Cele (Sekotlong 64’), Mekoa, Anas (Mokate 79’)