Thanda beat Maritzburg
Posted: 21 December 2008 Time: 18:07
Thanda Royal Zulu beat Maritzburg United 2-0 away at the Woodburn Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Thanda should hand Aubrey Mathibe a huge Christmas present as he proved vital in goal, making a number of great saves to keep a clean-sheet for Amabhubesi.
The first bit of excitement came in the sixth minute of the game when the referee disallowed a goal for Thanda, denying Bongani Mbhele the opening goal. A good passing movement saw Mbhele move onto a beautiful through-ball which he finished expertly, but unfortunately for the Thanda fans he was ruled off-side.
It wasn't long before the Premier League's top goalscorer, Bernard Parker, was in on the action, and five minutes later he broke down the left flank and cut inside into the box before unleashing a shot with his right boot that Richard Gilstrap did well to hold onto.
United's first chance came in the 14th minute in the form of a Tony Tsabedze shot, but his 20-yard attempt failed to trouble the keeper as it went quite a distance wide of goal.
However, for the next ten minutes Thanda seemed to retreat into their shells as Maritzburg took control of the midfield and began to dominate possession.
Thanda's keeper, Aubrey Mathibe, was kept busy when he was forced to pull off three saves in consecutive minutes from the 17th minute on.
First, Sipho Mngomezulu tested Mathibe from a free-kick just outside the 18-yard box, then seconds later Oska Mathebula stung the fingers of the keeper with a thunderous drive. Mathibe's easiest save was the final shot of the three when he comfortably held onto another Mngomezulu shot.
Mathibe was in fine form as he marshalled his defence well and seemed impenetrable inside the Thanda goal, and no matter how much possession United had they couldn't create any clear-cut chances in front of goal.
In fact, the Amabhubesi had more attempts on goal in the first half with Parker the most influential. The young Bafana striker made his way into the box after some individual brilliance in the 27th minute, but his finish didn't match the build-up as he fired his shot over the cross-bar form 12 yards out.
Parker was in the thick of things again in the final five minutes of the half: in the 41st minute he fired a dangerous looking shot from just 22 yards out, but luckily for Gilstrap the ball sailed the right side of the up-right for his team. Then in the final minute of the half Parker shot from long-range again, but again his shot went wide.
United started the second half more determined and looked a lot more threatening. In the fourth minute after the restart Tsabedze broke into the 118 yard box and fired a shot that just went over the cross-bar. In the 51st minute it was Lynch Pule that shot from 18 yards out but his effort also went over the bar. Brice Aka did force Mathibe into a save five minutes later but it hardly troubled the Thanda keeper.
United's best chance of the whole game came in the 61st minute after the defence failed to deal with a dangerous cross and after a goalmouth scramble Peter Petersen toe-poked the ball goal-wards, but Mathibe was in great form as he parried the shot around the post for a corner-kick.
Identical to the first half, despite all Maritzburg's possession and control, it was Thanda that created the best chances and went ahead in the 63rd minute through Felix Obada. Mbhele broke down the left flank and delivered a perfect cross into the box to find Obada 12 yards out from goal who made no mistake when he finished clinically into the top right hand corner, 1-0.
Sam Ndlovu nearly pulled his side level in the 79th minute when he let fly with a superb effort from 25 yards that Mathibe had to dive full stretch to his left to tip the ball over the bar.
Mathibe was certainly the man of the match as he produced another great save in the 85th minute from a John Aruwah shot which he again tipped over the bar while at full stretch.
Nkosinathi Nhleko sealed the win for Thanda when he scored in the 89th minute from the right side of the penalty area with a powerfully driven shot that gave the keeper no chance.
The game ended 2-0 to Thanda and Mathibe produced a performance worthy of the win saving his team on numerous occasions.