Maritzburg held by Celtic

The match came to life in the last 25 minutes in a spell that saw both sides show attacking intent, but in the end a draw was a fair result as the tactical war between Celtic boss Ernst Middendorp and Maritzburg mentor Steve Komphela ended in a stalemate.

Maritzburg nearly took the lead in the sixth minute through a Thamsanqa Mkhize header after the midfielder’s perfectly timed run met a Thokozani Sekotlong corner, but the ball flew narrowly over the crossbar.

Celtic were perhaps the better side for most of the opening period, dominating possession and looking more compact. But they could only manufacture one shot on target throughout the first half.

Maritzburg goalkeeper Virgil Vries did phenomenally well to keep out Lerato Lamola from point blank range on 33 minutes. The Celtic striker had been expertly threaded through the Maritzburg defence and looked certain to score, but the Namibian shot-stopper made himself big to smother the shot.

That was the best chance of what was a largely cagey opening 45, and both managers would have expected a better showing from their charges going into the second period.

They got what they wished for as the second half saw far more chances created.

Celtic had a header from Alfred Ndengane go just wide before former United fullback Ruben Cloete saw a shot from distance deflected only for Vries to make another sharp save to his left.

Maritzburg had their best chance of the match on 66 minutes when substitute striker Mohammed Anas latched onto a nodded down header from Nhlanhla Vilakazi, but the Ghanaian’s powerful strike was hit directly at Patrick Tignyemb in the Celtic goal.

The home side finished the match brightly, but for all of their half chances they couldn’t simply get enough shots on target.