Champions Downs held by Maritzburg

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iol spt may10 Downs-Maritzburg

Gallo Images

Elias Pelembe of Mamelodi Sundowns has his shot blocked by Ayanda Nkosi of Maritzburg Utd during the Absa Premiership match between Maritzburg United and Mamelodi Sundowns at Harry Gwala Stadium. Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Pietermaritzburg – Alje Schut scored deep into injury time as Mamelodi Sundowns celebrated winning the Premiership title with a 1-1 draw in their final match of the season against Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium n Pietermaritzburg on Saturday afternoon.

Heinrich Isaacks had given the hosts the lead after 34 minutes and they looked to be headed for a surprise win until Dutch defender Schut rose highest to head in a corner at the death.

The result was irrelevant, though, for the Brazilians as they had already wrapped up the title in midweek, but the late goal gave their fans something further to cheer about on a chilly afternoon in KwaZulu-Natal.

Pitso Mosimane's men began with a predictable swagger, but United held their own, as they have been doing since coach Steve Komphela arrived in January.

They had the first meaningful openings as Isaacks headed straight at debutant goalkeeper Thela Ngobeni, who did well to hold on to a crisp Thamsanqa Mkhize effort from 20 metres out not long after.

At the other end, Hlompho Kekana shot agonisingly wide from outside the box as the home defence backed away.

The Pretoria side had their best chance midway through the half when some slick passing saw Elias Pelembe slide in Anthony Laffor three metres out, but the big Liberian somehow stabbed wide.

Lebogang Mokoena then had two chances in three minutes, first drilling wide from outside the box, before forcing Virgil Vries to dive to his right and keep out another strike from similar distance.

Another chance followed for the midfielder just before the half hour when he failed to tap in from a brilliant low right-sided Laffor cross, before Maritzburg struck on the counter.

It was a delightful way to take the lead as the hosts quickly turned defence into attack, and when the ball was spread wide to Kurt Lentjies on the left, his ball into the middle was perfectly weighted into the middle where Namibian Isaacks crashed in.

The Brazilians failed to find any sort of response before the break and after the restart Bongolethu Jayiya shot centimetres over as United searched for a second.

Laffor did have a chance after 52 minutes when he broke forward, but instead of passing, he rifled in a low shot that forced Vries to punch away.

Just after the hour, Mokoena and Pelembe wasted two more great chances, the former heading over and the latter curling inches over – both either side of a penalty appeal against Ryan de Jongh for a tackle on Mzikayise Mashaba.

Referee Nasief Julius waved play on and once again did so in the 65th minute when David Booysen appeared to handle in the box, much to the frustration of the Sundowns' players.

But they finally had their equaliser when captain Schut powered in Pelembe's corner to hand Sundowns a share of the spoils.– Sapa


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