Absa Premiership: Maritzburg United 1 Platinum Stars 2
Tintswalo Tshabalala scored in the last minute of the match to hand Platinum Stars a 2-1 victory over Maritzburg United in a thrilling Absa Premiership encounter played at Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday night.
The match looked destined for a draw after Issa Sarr scored an own goal early in the second-half to bring back Maritzburg United to the match after Henrico Botes opened the scoring in the opening half and gave Platinum Stars the lead.
A win for Dikwena means they move to the second place on the log with 16 points from 10 matches while The Team of Choice are seventh on the log with 12 points from 10 matches. The home side made a surprise change when they dropped Ghanaian Yakubu Mohammed to the bench and gave Terrence Mandaza a rare start up-front.
Platinum Stars also made a change in their striking department when they brought on Henrico Botes in the place of injured Siphelele Mthembu and they opted to start with Botswana born attacking midfielder Mokgokolodi Ngele who was used as a super-sub in recent games.
The match started in a slow pace with both sides able to close each other down, but Platinum Stars had a slight chance to take the lead in the seventh minute when Mokgokolodi Ngele crossed low to Robert Ng’ambi in the area but the Malawian shot over the bar from point-blank range.
Four minutes later, Mokgokolodi Ngele tried his luck from range but his effort sailed over the bar as the visitors started to threaten. In the quarter-hour mark, the visitors took the lead when Henrico Botes launched on a pass from Robert Ng’ambi and released a first-time left footed shot past Shu-Aib Walters to put his side ahead.
Dikwena should have been two six minutes later when Tintswalo Tshabalala’s cross found Lindokuhle Mbatha unattended in a good area inside the box, and the midfielder didn’t waste time to hit the target but he was denied by Shu-Aib Walters who made a magnificent save to concede a corner.
On the other end of the field, youngster Thokozani Sekotlong beat Stars defender Tshepo Gumede to the ball but he could not beat Siyabonga Mpontshane in goals who made a great stop and concede a corner in the 23rd minute.
The home side came close to equalising again around the half-hour mark when Terrence Mandaza played a dummy move on Stars defender before his shot found side netting. Maritzburg United goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters made two great saves with six minute remaining before the break to make sure his side does not concede the second goal of the match.
First he blocked a shot when Henrico Botes connected with a cross inside the area from close range and chose to trap the ball instead of firing with the first-time shot allowed the ‘keeper to covers and then seconds later he did well to parry away Mokgolodi Ngele curling strike in the same process as Stars looked too difficult to be contained by United.
The visitors suffered a blow when their defender and captain Vuyo Mere was replaced by Thabiso Semenya after picking up an injury two minutes before half-time.
The half-time talk looked to have worked for Maritzburg United when they forced the visitors to concede an own goal in the 57th minute. Philani Zulu’s cross from a corner-kick and it was headed in by Issa Sarr into his own net to give the home side the equaliser.
Then two minutes later Platinum Stars almost took the lead again but Shu-Aib Walters did well again to race of his line to block the Malawian’s attempt. The match started to produce thrilling moments and the home side were catching Stars on the counter attack but their final third touches let them down.
Both sides made crucial changes midway through the second-half but United’s substitute Orlando Smeekes looked dangerous and he almost became the goal assister when he found Terrence Mandaza in the edge of the area after a counter-attack but the former Platinum Stars hit-man saw his shot parried over the bar by Siyabonga Mpontsane in the 76th minute.
The match was heading for a draw but Tintswalo Tshabalala had other ideas in the 90th minute when he connected with Henrico Botes’s clever pass and controlled the ball well before slotting it between the leg of Shu-Aib Walters and into the net to stun the home fans hand his side a second consecutive win.
Maritzburg United: Walters, Evans, Booysens, Awal, Matuka, Safro-Gyamfi(Buckely72’), Morton ©, Jongh, Zulu(Smeekes57’), Sekoylong, Mandaza ( Mohammed 84’).
Platinum Stars: Mpontshane, Mere© (Semenya43’), Mhlongo, Gumede, Mpeta, sarr, Ng’ambi (Mathe70’), Mbatha, Ngele, Tshabalala, Botes