DURBAN - For a goalless match Maritzburg United and Platinum Stars provided plenty fireworks during Wednesday night’s Absa Premiership game at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.
The Team of Choice tried their best to notch a fifth consecutive home win with another lively performance but they lacked in the finishing department. There was however more excitement when the teams got into a brawl midway through the second half.
In the first half the home unit made heavy weather of beating a Platinum team who were there for the taking. Chances were few but clear enough for Maritzburg to have enjoyed at least a two-goal lead at the interval.
Midfielder Kurt Lentjies made it look easy when he collected a pass in the box and turned to fire at goal, but his shot was comfortably collected by goalkeeper Mbongeni Mzimela in the fifth minute.
Belgian forward Andrea Fileccia later had a decent opening to score but ballooned his effort off winger Lebohang Maboe’s pass.
There were more shots landed in a second half free-for-all in which the benches of both teams stormed onto the pitch. The scuffle took almost 10 minutes for rookie referee Cedric Muvhali to sort out. The ugly scenes led to security and police personnel taking to the field to lend a calming presence before the official got to the bottom of the matter and sent off the initial combatants, Kulegani Madondo of Stars and Maritzburg’s Kwanda Mngonyama.
The result left the Midlands men in seventh place, one point behind Polokwane City, with two games to play.
Meanwhile AmaZulu got into a strong position to qualify for the PSL play-off when they won their penultimate match and other results went their way on Wednesday.
The Durban giants smashed Jomo Cosmos 5-1 in KwaMashu and overtook provincial neighbours Royal Eagles and Stellenbosch to climb to third in the National First Division standings. It places them in pole position to take the final play-off spot after Black Leopards sealed second position behind champions Thanda Royal Zulu with a victory over University of Pretoria.
That result confirmed Leopards’ position in the play-off and left AmaZulu to fight it out with Stellenbosch and Eagles for the remaining berth on Sunday. Teams that finish in second and third places qualify for the play-off against the side that ends second-bottom in the top league. The PSL yesterday confirmed that the mini tournament will start on May 31.
Although AmaZulu occupy third place they face a tricky opponent in FC Cape Town in the Mother City on Sunday afternoon. The Cape outfit is in danger of relegation and will prove difficult to beat at home.
Eagles and Stellenbosch have easier games against Witbank Spurs and Santos respectively. Spurs are out of the running for the play-off and Santos are relegated, which means they have little to play for and could prove to be push-overs.