Parker puffs out chest for Chiefs

Telkom Knockout

The game took on a different shape from the kick-off and looked nothing like the Absa Premiership clash a week ago, with both sides playing attacking football.

Steve Komphela's side showed more confidence and ambition in the opening minutes as they kept the ball for longer periods, but it was the hosts who opened the scoring.

Siphiwe Tshabalala, making is first start of the season, crossed from the left to Bernard Parker, who chested the ball home on the run as dived to divert the ball past Virgil Vries in the Maritzburg goal.

It was a brilliant finish from the striker, who is finally over the chronic ankle problem that hampered him last season.

Six minutes later Mandla Masango nearly made it 2-0 with a low shot from outside the area but Vries dived to his right to tip it round the post.

Three minutes after that Reyaad Pieterse was called onto action at the other end as he showed strong arms to keep out Ashley Hartog's curling effort.

Parker turned provider in the 27th minute, picking out Tshabalala in the right channel with a lovely chip, but Vries showed good goalkeeping again, coming out quickly to reduce the Chiefs man's options as he clutched his attempted lob out of midair.

Three minutes before half-time Pieterse has to be alert once again to keep out a stinging drive from Hartog, diving to his right to make another good save.

The second half produced fewer chances but in the 64th minute Kingston Nkhatha drew another save out of Vries after superb ball control and an outside-foot shot on the half-volley.

Hartog had his side's best chance to score in the 70th minute when Ryan de Jongh picked him out from the right but he miscued his shot from the penalty spot.

Kingston Nkhatha then missed a golden opportunity to put the game to bed in the 78th minute when, after doing all the hard work to fashion a chance in the box, he toe-poked the ball wide from seven yards.

Terrance Mandaza came on to inject some extra goal threat into Maritzburg's attack in the 80th minute and nearly made an immediate impact but Pieterse made the save look easy, plucking his shot out of the air.

Tefu Mashamaite went close with five minutes remaining as he headed Tshabalala's inswinging free-kick just wide of the post as Stuart Baxter brought on Molomowandau Mathoho and Reneilwe Letsholonyane to see out the result – Chiefs' 12th win in a row this season and 14th in a winning streak stretching back since the end of last season.