Maritzburg sink ailing Arrows

Orlando Smeekes's superb 17 minute strike proved decisive, as the Team of Choice boosted their season haul to 30 points - the mark widely considered sufficient to secure safety in the South African topflight.

Abafana Bes'thende, who had Jabulani Nene sent off by referee Victor Gomes after the final whistle, prop up the Premiership standings with 13 points from 24 matches - eight points behind second-from-bottom Free State Stars.

Maritzburg were looking promising with their attacking runs in the opening 10 minutes of the fixture, but, as the visitors went forward, they saw a chance terribly wasted as Nkanyiso Mngwengwe swirled his effort well wide. 

The home side deservingly broke the deadlock seven minutes later through Smeekes. A looping ball by Kurt Lentjies was sent to the midfielder from inside his own half and it met him inside the box where he drove home an unstoppable half-volley into the roof of Arthur Bartman’s net. 

Then, in the 24th minute, Shu-Aib Walters was seen making a brave save off his line when he dove to snatch a crossing ball from an Arrows player inside the box. 

There was little much to report on for the remainder of the opening 45, as Arrows welcomed a rare shot on target through Thembela Sikhakhane five minutes from the interval, but it was easy for Walters. 

Shaun Bartlett threw on both Rudolf Bester and Deon Hotto at the restart as he looked to add more stability with a bit of attacking flair to his unit. 

The 54th minute saw a great chance fall to Arrows when Siyanda Zwane supplied a cross into the box that sailed past the fingertips of Walters, but couldn’t reach any of his onrushing teammates. 

With a quarter of an hour remaining Hotto tried to level things up with his shot from the edge of the area, however, it skimmed just over the goal. 

It could have been 2-0 to Maritzburg in the final 10 minutes of the match, but Bartman pulled off a great save.

Gomes then correctly waved away penalty appeals for the visitors before handing two cautions to Nene in quick succession.