Hunter Gilstrap started in goal for Maritzburg after Tashrique Goldman failed a last-minute fitness test – something his coach, Gordon Igesund, would come to rue at the end of the day. The American goalie proved the difference between the two sides and would most certainly want to forget about his poor performance in a hurry.
The match started at a lively pace with the two teams trading blows like heavyweight boxers. Arrows certainly landed the first telling strike when they opened the scoring after nine minutes. After a slick passing movement by, Rodgers Kola found himself with the ball at the edge of the area and fired in past Gilstrap, who should have done much better.
Two minutes later and Ntlantla Zothwane almost dealt Maritzburg a knockout blow when he doubled Arrows’ lead after a blunder by Gary Goldstone.
Arrows were clearly the better side in the first 45, being quicker to the ball and passing better than their misfiring opponents.
And the second half did not prove much better for Maritzburg. On a positive note, they did manage to find two goals, but at the cost of conceding a further three.
In fact, they struck first through Fanyana Dhladhla, who pounced on a loose ball during a goal-mouth scramble to make the score 2-1.
But Maritzburg’s joy did not last long as Richard Henyekane restored Arrows’ two-goal lead five minutes later after a fumbled clearance by Gilstrap landed at the feet of the striker, who made no mistake in slotting the ball into an empty net.
Then, in the space of three minutes, the most bizarre moments of the match took place. First Francis Kombe provided the fans with some laughter when he missed from only a yard out. Gilstrap spilled another shot straight to the feet of Kombe, who fired over the crossbar when it looked easier to score.
Then, in the 66th minute, Mzukvukile Tom was sent off for his second yellow card, reducing Arrows to 10 men for the remainder of the match.
However, despite being a man down and struggling to get hold of the ball, Joseph Musonda basically wrapped up matters eight minutes from time when he grabbed a fourth goal after some more slack defence by United.
Henyekane put the game beyond doubt six minute later when he scored his second and his side’s fifth and, even though Maritzburg pulled a goal back through Tony Tsabedze, it was Arrows who walked away with a comfortable three points.