Katlego Mashego scored the only goal of the game in first-half-injury time to move one behind Bernard Parker (12) in the race for the Golden Boot.
United had a great chance for an early goal when Dillon Sheppard found himself one-on-one with Greg Etafia but, on his weaker right foot, he hesitated, allowing Roger da Costa to block the shot.
It took a while for Swallows to settle, but they eventually had the ball in the back of the net on 22 minutes. However, Siyabonga Nomvete’s effort was correctly ruled offside.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between and after Mashego put a dangerous free-kick over the bar on the half-hour mark, Cuthbert Malajila headed a cross straight at Etafia. Ruben Cloete then came close with a 25-yard thunderbolt which drifted just wide.
With the game looking to be heading for a stalemate at the break, Dikgang Mabalane got some space on the right and skinned Thabang Mathuka before feeding Mashego. There was still some work to be done, but ‘Mahoota’ showed great composure to hold off two defenders before firing a low shot in the corner.
United came racing out of the blocks at the start of the second half and should have taken the lead through Michael Morton’s thunderbolt, but Etafia produced an amazing safe to keep the ball out of the top corner.
Lerato Chabangu, who had a quiet night, then hit a volley that was heading into the net but for Mohammed Awal’s timely intervention. Bizarrely, the referee awarded a goal-kick.
From there it was all Maritzburg as they chased the equaliser. First Malajila ran onto a long ball and chipped the onrushing keeper but the ball drifted wide, before Etafia was forced to tip a long-range Delron Buckley shot over the bar.
They came even closer with four minutes to go when Mario Booysen headed onto the crossbar from Sheppard’s free-kick, but Swallows hung on for the three points which moves them up to seventh place.