Maritzburg United claimed a vital win in their battle against relegation from the DStv Premiership, defeating fellow strugglers Black Leopards 1-0 at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Tuesday.
A late penalty from Thabiso Kutumela decided the game, with the victory taking the Team of Choice level with Lidoda Duvha on points – but ahead of the Limpopo club (15th to 16th) on goal difference.
Maritzburg created the first clear chance 13 minutes into the game, with Jose Ali Meza and Daniel Morgan combining well down the left flank to set up Kutumela with a shooting chance, but the striker put his effort wide of the target.
Five minutes later the hosts came within inches of claiming the lead, as Kutumela poked through a pass to find Meza, who in turn unleashed a powerful drive which had the beating of Leopards goalkeeper King Ndlovu but cannoned back off the underside of the crossbar.
Meza continued to be a menacing presence for United, earning a free kick on the edge of the box from which Tebogo Tlolane shot wide, as well as firing an effort of his own just over the target in the 37th minute.
Leopards offered little in attack, as they struggled to bring the likes of Lifa Hlongwane, Rodney Ramagalela and Mohammed Anas into the game, but they remained level at 0-0 when the half-time whistle was blown.
The Team of Choice opted for an attacking change at the start of the second half, withdrawing defender Nazeer Allie and replacing him with forward Judas Moseamedi. The substitute almost broke the deadlock in the 55th minute, with his header from a corner kick forcing ‘keeper Ndlovu into a finger-tip save.
Moseamedi had another chance on 69 minutes when Meza robbed a Leopards defender and fed his fellow attacker, but the sub’s effort was a tame one and comfortably saved by Ndlovu, as the visiting side continued to fight a rearguard action.
United kept up the pressure right to the dying stages and were rewarded in injury time when debutant Ryan Rae was fouled in the 18-yard area. Kutumela took on the spot kick and slotted it into the bottom corner to seal a key win for the KwaZulu-Natal club.
The teams will be back in DStv Premiership action this weekend, with Maritzburg visiting Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday 6 March and Leopards hosting Golden Arrows the following day.
Maritzburg United (0) 1 (Kutumela 90+3’ pen)
Black Leopards 0
Maritzburg: Engelhardt, Allie (Moseamedi 46’), Daniels, Ismail, Rae, Graham (Shandu 82’), Morgan (Hachi 62’), Tlolane, Hlongwane (Sifama 80’), Meza, Kutumela
Leopards: K. Ndlovu, Matsimbi, Nthatheni, Gyimah, Mashoene, Ramagalela, Abubakar, Mthethwa, Khutlang (Khumalo 76’), Hlongwane (Maluleke 76’), Anas.© Backpage TXT.
SOURCED FROM THE PSL WEBSITE.