Maritzburg rise to eighth with narrow win

Maritzburg United © Backpagepix

Maritzburg United have moved up to eighth place on the DStv Premiership log after they defeated TS Galaxy 1-0 at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday.

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An own goal from the Rockets’ Bathusi Aubaas in the opening seconds of the second half decided the result and saw the visitors, who remain bottom of the log, extend their winless start to the 2021-22 season to eight matches.

The Team of Choice, meanwhile, snapped a three-game winless run and moved to 10 points – level with Orlando Pirates and AmaZulu, though the latter pair both now have a game in hand.

Maritzburg started the stronger of the two teams and exerted pressure in attack, especially from set pieces. The first threat of a goal from the hosts arrived from a free kick in the 21st minute in which Galaxy’s Mlungisi Mbunjana almost scored an own goal, but goalkeeper Vasilije Kolak made a sharp save.

Ten minutes later Mbunjana tried his luck from long range at the other end of the field and saw his shot deflect off a defender and travel just wide of United goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt’s right-hand post.

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The teams traded great scoring chances late in the half, with Rowan Human stabbing a shot straight at Kolak from close range, before Galaxy broke up the other end and had a sustained spell of pressure which ended with Tshegofatso Nyama whipping a curler just wide of the mark.

For all the endeavour in attack at both ends of the field, the game was goalless at the half-time interval. However, the deadlock was broken within 60 seconds of the restart in the second stanza, as Galaxy’s Bathusi Aubaas stabbed the ball into his own net while trying to challenge Amadou Soukouna in the penalty area, handing the Team of Choice a 1-0 lead.

The Rockets were perhaps lucky not to be reduced to 10 men on the hour mark when defender Marks Munyai only received a yellow card for what looked like a deliberate elbow to the face of Maritzburg substitute Lifa Hlongwane.

Galaxy enjoyed numerous attacks through the second half, though they found United’s Engelhardt an immovable object between the posts, with the ‘keeper making several fine saves to deny the likes of Wayde Lekay and Mxolisi Machupu.

Maritzburg had chances of their own to add to the lead, with Bongokuhle Hlongwane twice denied by Kolak: the first was a shot direct from a free kick which the glovesman turned around the post, while the second saw him tip a drive from a tight angle over the crossbar.

The dying minutes saw Galaxy throw men forward in an attempt to bring themselves back into the game, but Maritzburg were able to weather the storm and claim three valuable points.

The teams will return to DStv Premiership action early next month, with Galaxy at home to Baroka FC on Tuesday 2 November and Maritzburg away to Mamelodi Sundowns the following day.

Maritzburg United (0) 1 (Aubaas og 46’)
TS Galaxy 0

MARITZBURG: Engelhardt, Rae, Allie, Ndengane, Bhengu, Human (L. Hlongwane 46’), Graham (Zondi 90+3’), Kewuti, Claasen, B. Hlongwane (Ismail 85’), Soukouna

TS GALAXY: Kolak, Munyai (Filipetto 79’), Makitan, Seedat, Aubaas, Mbunjana (Brooks 46’), Nduli, Nyama (Ndwandwe 84’), Mbatha, Mngomezulu (Lekay 46’), Machupu