Pretoria – After two hours of goalless action, Maritzburg United boss Ernst Middendorp was pleased to walk away with a victory in difficult circumstances, progressing to the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup with a penalties win over the University of Pretoria at Tuks Stadium on Saturday night.
Maritzburg netted all four of their penalty attempts, aided by some heroic goalkeeping from Shuiab Walters, to claim a 4-2 victory over Tuks in the spot kick decider.
Walters saved Mame Niang's poorly taken attempt, before Thokozani Sekotlong hit the crossbar with a thunderous effort, leaving the hosts trailing by two and unable to keep up with the Team of Choice, who marched into the next round of the knockout competition.
“In total it was a very close game,” Middendorp said.
“Two or three good opportunities were on their way, but in the end with the penalties it was good.
“Good goalkeeping (from Walters) and good use of the penalties, and I am quite happy.
“It was a good fighting spirit that we saw from the team. Of course we had some build-ups, a few simple, easy passing movements from the centre of the field.”
The visitors dominated the early first-half exchanges, but looked under pressure in the second half as Tuks asserted more pressure on the visitors. A fine defensive display from both sides, however, led to a 0-0 deadlock after extra time.
“Tuks are a very physical, direct playing team and you have to have good defensive work if you want to be successful (against them),” Middendorp said.
“I was quite convinced that if it came to these final moments that we would have a good chance.”
AmaTuks coach Steve Barker believed his side deserved to claim the win but admitted they had not taken their chances in front of goal. He said the team lacked the clinical last touches necessary to clinch the result.
“It's not what we wanted, we haven't won, so we are out of the cup,” he said.
“I thought we were the better team. In the second half I don't think they had a shot on goal, we lacked a bit of composure in the final third.
“I felt that we were unlucky not to win it in extra-time.
“Now we have to concentrate on the league, get the players refreshed mentally and physically for our next league game which is a tough one ahead.”
With games coming thick and fast this year, Barker decided to rest a few of first team regulars – particularly in defence – and included Warren Bishop and Charly Moussouno, who have had little game-time this season.
“What I am pleased with is that players were given an opportunity Äplayers like Charly Moussouno and Warren Bishop, who were superb,” Barker said.
“Warren is really strong, so it's good to know that players that may have been on the fringes put their hands up.
“I felt that we blocked them out and I was well pleased with the effort defensively.”
Barker added that the student side were unlucky not to be rewarded for their good display in the middle of the field, but admitted that the draw for the first round of the competition was a tricky one.
“I feel that we may be lacking that killer instinct right now, and with composure in that final third to get the job done,” he said.
“Obviously it wasn't an easy draw for us. The teams are well matched, if you look at the (Premiership) log, one point separated the two teams, so it was always going to be a tough game and a battle of the team who wanted it the most during normal time.”
Elsewhere, amateur outfit Maluti FET College caused a major upset when they routed Soweto giants Orlando Pirates 4-1 in Phuthaditjhaba.
SuperSport United edged Moroka Swallows 5-3 in a penalty shootout in Atteridgeville, with scores locked at 0-0 after extra-time, Premiership leaders Kaizer Chiefs coasted past Wits with a 3-0 victory in Nelspruit, and Chippa United were ousted in a 3-2 defeat by First Division side United FC in Moruleng.
Golden Arrows made light work of Vardos FC, beating the minnows 4-0 at Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa.
Mamelodi Sundowns claimed a 1-0 extra-time victory over Ajax Cape Town in the Mother City on Friday night. – Sapa