Rayners screamer gives supersport victory over Maritzburg

Iqraam Rayners scored a superb goal to see SuperSport United claim a 1-0 win over Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday evening and secure progression into the next round of the Nedbank Cup.

Both the Team of Choice and Matsatsantsa looked a little rusty in their first competitive matches since a lengthy mid-season break encompassing the Africa Cup of Nations, but ultimately it was the Tshwane visitors who seized on the key opportunity late in the game to claim victory.

SuperSport started the stronger of the two teams and Iqraam Rayners spurned two good chances inside the opening quarter hour, heading narrowly wide with a glancing effort before a left-footed shot was clawed away by goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt a short while later.

Maritzburg took their time to settle into the game, but they soon began to offer a potent threat on transition. They nearly claimed the lead just before the half hour mark, with Daylon Claasen driving forward and sending a low shot toward the bottom corner, only for SuperSport goalkeeper Ronwen Williams to pull off an excellent diving save.

The first half closed out with the score locked at 0-0 and neither team having been able to fully assert themselves.

The Team of Choice opted for a bold triple change at the start of the second stanza – sending on Brandon Theron, Amadou Soukouna and Riyaaz Ismail – and they looked the more fluid side in the early minutes, with Theron twice shooting wide from promising opportunities.

Just past the hour mark Soukouna whipped in an awkward shot direct from a free kick, with the ball bouncing just before Williams, but the Matsatsantsa shot-stopper did well to hang on cleanly.

Williams was in key action again in the 74th minute, making a fine save with his feet after Maritzburg debutant Friday Samu had burst through the defence and got away a low shot.

The match looked set to go to an extra half hour, but on 89 minutes SuperSport struck a decisive blow: Rayners was put into space on a counter attack and he cut inside from the left before firing a beautiful shot from the edge of the box which flew past Engelhardt and crashed into the back of the net.

SuperSport joined University of Pretoria, Mamelodi Sundowns, Swallows FC, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila, Orlando Pirates and Venda Football Academy in the draw for the last 16. The remaining nine places will be decided by matches this weekend, 11-13 February.

The teams will meet again in a DStv Premiership clash at the Harry Gwala Stadium on the evening of Tuesday.

Maritzburg United 0

SuperSport United (0) 1 (Rayners 89’)

Maritzburg United:Engelhardt, Rae (Ismail 46’), Daniels, Ndengane, Ritchie, Lukhubeni (Theron 46’), Graham, Baloyi (Soukouna 46’), Claasen, Samu (Human 76’), Macheke

SuperSport United:Wiliams, Phillips, Fleurs, Ditlhokwe, Bhasera, Webber, Donn, Waiswa (Nhlapo 90+1’), Rasebotja (Mahachi 86’), Lungu, Rayners