Kutumela leads Maritzburg past Eagles

Thabiso Kutumela scored the only goal of the game as Maritzburg United claimed a narrow 1-0 win over Royal Eagles in an Absa Premiership/ National First Division promotion-relegation playoff clash at Harry Gwala Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Victory moves the Team of Choice level on three points with Eagles after two rounds of fixtures.

Maritzburg dominated the early exchanges, but found it difficult to beat an inspired Patrick Nyame between the posts for the second division outfit.

The Eagles goalkeeper pulled off a superb save to deny Miguel Timm in the 12th minute before diving to his right to keep out a goal-bound header from Rushine de Reuck from the resulting corner-kick.

Nyame was at it again on the half-hour mark to stop Mohau Mokate from point-blank range, but Maritzburg continued to huff-and-puff and finally succeeded in blowing down the proverbial door in the 37th minute.

Kutumela was alert at the back post to pounce on the loose ball and power a low shot past Nyame to send the home fans into delirium.

Eagles improved following the break and were the better team for most of the second half, but found it equally difficult to find a way past Richard Ofori.

The Ghanaian shot-stopper got down superbly to deny Nkosivumile Zulu's header from creeping into the net in the 78th minute, while the forward squandered a further chance soon after - sending his towering header flashing over the crossbar.

Samuel Manganyi had a chance to steal a point late on for Eagles, but Ofori was well positioned to punch the defender's attempt to safety as Maritzburg held on for all three points.

Next up, the Team of Choice travel to the Limpopo province to take on Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila on Wednesday afternoon.

Maritzburg United (1) 1 (Kutumela 37')

Royal Eagles (0) 0

Maritzburg United: Ofori; Shandu, Allie, De Reuck, Xulu, Kutumela (Kateregga 81'), Timm, Makaringe, Kunene, Ndlovu (Onyango 88'), Monkate (Moseamedi 68').

Royal Eagles: Nyame; Cele, Manganyi, Shezi, Stoffels, Mosebo (Tau 69'), Bakah. Ntuli (Brown 57'), Nene (Tshabalala 80'), Wambi, Zulu.