Golden Arrows (0) 2
IT took a moment of magic from Lamontville Golden Arrows talisman, Knox Mutizwa to settle the KwaZulu-Natal derby between Abafana Bes’thende and the Team of Choice in a pulsating Absa Premiership encounter at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.
Arrows downed their arch-rivals 2-0 thanks to goals from Mutizwa and Lerato Lamola. But it was only their first ever win in Maritzburg since 2010.
Both coaches, Clinton Larsen for Abafana Bes’thende and Fadlu Davids for the Team of Choice handed debuts to their new signings. As expected Davids opted for Keagan Buchanan in the place of departed Lebohang Maboe.
Siyanda Zwane also made his first start at right back for Arrows who launched his career back in 2005 and he gave a solid performance.
Divine Lunga, signed from Zimbabwean top side Chicken Inn, was also given a taste of Premiership football at left back for Abafana Bes’thende.
The spirit of the derby was evident from the first whistle as tackles were flying from both ends. The referee, Phillip Tinyane, was called into action on numerous occasions during the early stages of the game.
Siphelele Ndlovu was at his best once again using his silky skills to toy with Arrows in the first half. Both sides lost possession cheaply in the first 45 minutes. No one gained momentum and the rhythm of the game was disrupted by a lot of fouls. Abafana Bes’thende were resolute at the back and they didn’t allow their hosts to open them up. Captain Nkanyiso Mngwengwe was marshalling the defence for Larsen’s side.
Goalkeepers, Richard Ofori for United and Nkosingiphile Gumede for Arrows were on holiday as no chances were created in the first half.
Even the referee was more busy than the two keepers.
But the game burst into life after the interval. Gumede was called into action in the first time minute of the second half and pulled off a stunning safe to deny Mohau Mokate.
Gumede produced another glorious save to keep the hosts at bay when he denied Makaringe in a one-on-one inside the box, diving full length to stop the ball from going in.
Larsen reacted to the pressure that Arrows were piling as he replaced Thabo Molefe and Siphamandla Sabelo.
He then brought on Nkanyiso Cele and Siphelele Magubane as he tried to gain momentum in the midfield.
The Team of Choice were all over Arrows and asking more and more questions.
Surprisingly it was Arrows who took the lead with the moment of magic from Mutizwa in the 75th minute. Mutizwa executed a brilliant bicycle kick from inside the box, no doubt the first entry into the Goal of the Season contenders box, to put his side in the lead.
The goal came from nowhere as Danny Phiri tried to unleash a shot from distance and the ball was blocked by Siyanda Xulu and fell in the path of Mutizwa.
Gumede ensured his team maintained their lead with another brilliant save 12 minutes from time. to go in the game. It was not surprising he won the Man of the Match award.
Davids went all out for the equaliser when he sacrificed defender Bokang Tlhone for attacker Deolin Mekoa.
Ndlovu missed another sitter in the dying minutes as he smashed his shot off target.
United created chances but they’d clearly left their scoring boots at home. The Team of Choice went for broke as they tried to snatch the equaliser and Lamola punished them to put the match to bed.