Keene steals win for Wits at Maritzburg

James Keene scored a late winner as Bidvest Wits beat Maritzburg United 2-1 at Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday night to keep their Absa Premiership title hopes alive.

Goals from Daine Klate and Gregory Maasdorp had left the game in the balance at 1-1, but the Clever Boys were able to claim a late winner to remain within seven points of leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who beat Black Aces in a concurrent match.

Wits created the first clear chance of the game nine minutes in, with Elias Pelembe providing a cross to pick out Daine Klate, whose wild swipe at the ball sent it way off target.

Eight minutes later Klate tried his luck from long range, but his curling, dipping effort was just over the crossbar and no trouble for goalkeeper Glen Verbauwhede.

On 19 minutes Maritzburg threatened for the first time, with midfielder Kurt Lentjies firing just over the target direct from a free kick. To be fair, Wits goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs looked to have it covered.

Klate’s energy was rewarded just past the half hour mark when he opened the scoring, getting on the end of an excellent right-wing cross from Pelembe and beating the goalkeeper with a well-placed header.

The Team of Choice responded by withdrawing defender Pogiso Sanoka and replacing him with attacker Gregory Maasdorp well before half time, but the Clever Boys held their lead up to the interval.

United took the game to Wits early in the second half and Philani Zulu fired a low shot across the face of the visitors’ goal in the 50th minute, with Josephs relieved to see it pass wide of his far post.

Fifteen minutes later Maasdorp played a teasing cross from the right that striker Evans Rusike was unable to turn home from close range, much to the frustration of the vocal home support.

In the 72nd minute the home team threatened an equaliser again, with Brian Onyango getting on the end of Lentjies’ corner kick, but the tall defender was unable to direct his glancing header on target.

On 83 minutes Maritzburg were finally rewarded for their efforts, with Maasdorp scoring his first goal in the top flight to make it 1-1. The youngster put his shot between the legs of Josephs after a classy touch from Lentjies to set him up.

Five minutes later United nearly claimed the lead, with Lentjies providing a brilliant turn and chip into the path of Zulu, who put his header just wide of the post.

In injury time, Wits substitute James Keene was guilty of one of the misses of the season as the visitors finally got their attacking play out of second gear.

However, the English striker made up for the error with a superbly-taken headed goal off a cross from Sifiso Hlanti with literally the last touch of the game, five minutes into injury time, to see the Johannesburg side claim a dramatic 2-1 win.

Maritzburg United (0) 1 (Maasdorp 83’)
Bidvest Wits (1) 2 (Klate 31’, Keene 90+5’)

Maritzburg: Verbauwhede, Sanoka (Maasdorp 37’), Teyise, Mngonyama, Onyango, Mogapi, Booysen (M. Mekoa 78’), Lentjies, Zulu, D. Mekoa (Shandu 90’), Rusike

Wits: Josephs, Allie Hlatshwayo, Mkhwanazi, Hlanti, Pelembe, Shongwe (Vilakazi 87’), Motshwari, Klate, Sekese (Gome 69’), Botes (Keene 69’)