Maritzburg's top eight hopes dashed
Posted: 24 February 2010 Time: 21:58
Maritzburg United’s hopes of a top eight finish in the Absa Premiership were dashed on Wednesday evening when they were held to a goalless draw by ten-man Free State Stars at the Charles Mopeli Stadium.
Tshegofatso Mashego was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Stars started on the front foot and took control of the game early on. Aleni Lebyane almost opened the scoring in the fourth minute when he got on the end of Matome Madimabe’s cross but United goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters made a fine save.
Lebyane went close again with another header in the 12th minute while Madimabe followed it up with a long range shot that flashed just the wrong side of the upright.
As the game wore on, Maritzburg gradually began to grow in confidence. Midfielder Kurt Lentjies misdirected two attempts in the 27th and 29th minutes as the visitors put their hosts under a spell of pressure.
However, it was Ea Lla Koto who continued to create good scoring opportunities. On 37 minutes an Mpho Makola corner kick found its way to Lebyane but again the young striker was denied by Walters in the Maritzburg goal.
The hosts were dealt a massive blow three minutes before the break when defender Tshegofatso Mashego received his second yellow card and was sent for an early shower by the referee, reducing Stars to 10 men.
Stars brought on Kleinbooi Taaibos at half time, sacrificing striker Tebelo Mofokeng in order to stabilise their defence, and they proceeded to frustrate the Team of Choice and even created a couple of decent scoring opportunities of their own despite their numerical disadvantage.
Probably their best opportunity arrived in the 79th minute when Ayanda Gcaba had a clear sight of goal after United had failed to clear their lines in defending a set piece but Walters once again made a fine block.