Maritzburg edge Ea Lla Koto
Posted: 11 March 2014 Time: 18:55
Maritzburg United eased their relegation concerns with a 3-2 victory over fellow strugglers Free State Stars in the Premiership on Tuesday night.
United went 3-0 up thanks to a first-half brace from Man of the Match Rheece Evans and strike from new signing Bhongolwethu Jayiya.
However, Stars created a tense finale as they struck late on via substitute Danny Venter and an own goal from Ruben Cloete at Harry Gwala Stadium.
The result leaves the Team of Choice in 13th place on the table with 23 points from 20 matches - six points above second-from-bottom Ea Lla Koto.
United broke the deadlock in the sixth minute when Evans volleyed home at the far post after Frank Sarfo-Gyamfi’s corner was flicked into his path.
Richard Henyekane had a chance to equalise for the visitors in the 14th minute when he got behind the United defence, only to be denied by a brilliant stop from Shu-Aib Walters.
Evans then grabbed his second goal in the 21st minute, making a late run to the far post to head past Tshepo Motsoeneng, connecting with a corner from Jayiya.
Henyekane had another golden opportunity in the 27th minute when he found himself one-on-one with Walters, but this time he dragged his shot narrowly wide of the post. The Stars forward, on loan from Mamelodi Sundowns, did get another effort on target in the 35th minute, but his dipping freekick was superbly kept out by Walters.
Daniel Cardoso then redeemed himself in the 44th minute when he desperately cleared Jayiya’s effort after he had been guilty of losing possession to Orlando Smeekes on the left.
Ea Lla Koto tried to pull a goal back early in the second half but Salmaan King drew a routine save from Walters in the 54th minute, before Angelo Kerspuy missed the target two minutes later.
Six minutes later Sarfo-Gyamfi had a great chance to extend the lead when a long ball was headed into his path on the right side of the box, only to rush his shot and put it wide.
Smeekes used good pace and skill to skip past his marker on the left in the 64th minute before drilling a low shot which was gathered comfortably by Motsoeneng.
However, the Stars goalkeeper was left rooted on his line in the 73rd minute as Jayiya curled his freekick into the top right corner for Maritzburg’s third goal of the match.
Venter then had an effort saved by Walters in the 79th minute but six minutes later he did find the back of the net after his shot ricocheted off Robyn Johannes.
There was more drama in added time when Stars reduced the deficit through a headed own goal from Cloete, but it was too little too late as United held on for maximum points.