Late show wins it for Ajax

It is the Urban Warriors’ fifth successive win in the Premiership and pushes them up to fourth place. The Team of Choice remain in 11th place, with this being their first defeat in the second tenure of coach Ernst Middendorp.

The home side dominated proceedings in the first half and created the better scoring opportunities, though they found goalkeeper Sander Westerveld in inspired form.

The Dutchman made several fine saves, two around the half-hour mark which were straight from the top drawer. First, he tipped a superbly-executed volley from Kurt Lentjies over the top, and a few minutes later he did just enough to deflect a Michael Morton screamer onto the crossbar.

Morton, along with Kulegani Madondo and Jabulani Ncubeni, was really bossing the game in midfield, and George Maluleka and Nhlanhla Vilakazi spent most of their time tracking back to help out in defence – as a result, the Cape side offered little threat going forward.

Their only real attacking highlight came on the stroke of half-time when Evans had a chance to show off his dead-ball skills. The Ajax man curled a great shot on target from a free-kick just outside the penalty area, but Shu-Aib Walters was equal to the effort.

Ajax started the second half strongly and twice came close to taking the lead before the hour mark. On 52 minutes Maluleka surged forward from midfield to put himself in a good shooting position only to drag his effort wide of Walters’s right-hand post.

Seven minutes later Khama Billiat almost produced a brilliant solo goal out of nowhere, twisting and turning into space just outside the Maritzburg penalty area before firing a shot just wide of the target, with the goalkeeper looking beaten.

On 73 minutes Billiat and Vilakazi combined well to set the latter up with a shooting chance, but his low effort was well saved by Walters, who was definitely the busier of the two goalkeepers in the second stanza.

Walters, however, was helpless to stop Ajax from breaking the deadlock as new Nigerian striker George Akpabio latched onto a clever flick-on from Billiat and coolly finished from close range for his first goal in the PSL.

Maritzburg were mere centimetres away from an equaliser in the 88th minute, when substitute Wayne Matle had Sandilands completely beaten with a superb chip, but the ball rebounded kindly off the underside of the crossbar.

The visitors counter attacked directly from that close shave and duly made it 2-0, with Billiat taking advantage of Maritzburg’s lack of numbers in defence to score the goal that his individual performance richly deserved.