United win against blunted Arrows

Maritzburg United reached the 30-point mark on the Absa Premiership log when they edged out Golden Arrows 1-0 at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Orlando Smeekes scored the only goal of the game to continue the Durban outfit’s domestic woes all while claiming bragging rights in the provincial derby.

The KwaZulu Natal derby had a whole new meaning to it as the fixture was a relegation battle of note with the visitors sitting at the foot of the league table, while Maritzburg’s top-flight status was yet to be confirmed for the next season.

There was a great sense of attacking impetus from the home side in the opening 10 minutes of play, but when Arrows went forward, they saw a shocking attempt by Nkanyiso Mngwengwe go well wide of goal despite having time on the ball.

Orlando Smeekes deservingly handed the Team of Choice the lead seven minutes later when he latched onto a looping ball from inside his own half. The midfielder burst into the box to power home the long ball on the half volley, directing it into the roof of the net.

Then, in the 24th minute, Shu-Aib Walters was seen making a brave save off his line when he dove to snatch a crossing ball from an Arrows player inside the box. However, in the process of making the save he received a knock to the head, but was able to continue.

The game did fall into a lull for the remainder of the opening half, as Arrows finally managed a shot on goal through Thembela Sikhakhane on 40 minutes, but it was an easy for Walters.

Shaun Bartlett threw on both Rudolf Bester and Deon Hotto at the restart as he looked to add more stability with a bit of attacking flare to his line-up.

Arrows’ best chance arrived in the 55th minute when Siyanda Zwane supplied a great cross into the box, that inched past the fingertips of Walters, but it failed to meet any of his teammates.

A promising shot came in from Hotto on the edge of the box with a quarter of an hour remaining, however, it sailed narrowly over the angular of the goal.

Arthur Bartman prevented Maritzburg from doubling their lead when he pushed away a stinging shot ten minutes from time to keep the scoreline the same, before Victor Gomes correctly waved away penalty appeals for the visitors.

Jabulani Nene was handed a red card after the final whistle after receiving two cautions in quick succession for protesting.

Maritzburg United: (1) 1 (Smeekes 17’)

Golden Arrows: (0) 0

Maritzburg United: Walters, Cloete, Booysen M, Awal, Evans, Mkhize, Hartog, Lentjies (Mandaza 59’), Jayiya, Smeekes (Morton 65’), Sarfo-Gyamfi (Shandu 57’)

Golden Arrows: Bartman, Zwane, Ntombayithethi, Musonda, Sikhakhane, Mngwengwe, Shange (Bester 46’), Moholo (Hotto 46’), Katongo (Zothwane 75’), Nene, Ntuli