Lebohang Maboe celebrates grabbing the equaliser for Maritzburg United against SuperSport United. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

ATTERIDGEVILLE – Eric Tinkler will hope his side will be more alert in the last 15 minutes of the match when they travel to KwaZulu-Natal for their second leg MTN8 semi-final encounter against Maritzburg United.

On Saturday night, Matsatsantsa a Pitori failed to do that as they drew 1-1 in the first leg at home.

They invited pressure in the last 15 minutes after taking the lead early in the second half.

Tinkler will do well to take his charges through their paces in ensuring that they do not repeat the same mistake, as failure to do so might see them fall short of securing a place in this year’s MTN8 final.

In the first half, both sides opted to play the patience game. Neither Fadlu Davids nor Eric Tinkler’s men made any daring moves in the final third.

They were both trying to avoid being caught on a counter-attack in the first 30 minutes.

For Tinkler, the former Bafana Bafana international was trying to avoid an early goal against a side that produced three victories in their last three games.

SuperSport, on the other hand, had one hiccup in their last three matches, which was a 2-0 hiding against arch-rivals Sundowns.

A lack of deadly finishing and accuracy in front of goal was an Achilles heel for both sides.

Thuso Phala (right) scored the opening goal for SuperSport United on Saturday night. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

Bradley Grobler was presented with a decent chance in the 34th minute following a sweet cross from Thuso Phala from the near side. His header, though, didn’t trouble the goalkeeper one bit, going straight into Bongani Mpandle’s hands.

Four minutes before that attempt on goal, the Team of Choice had put together a nice interplay from the halfway line, but it was the finishing of Lebohang Maboe which left the away side disappointed as his shot went a whisker wide of the goalmouth.

Things took a different turn in the second period of the match, though. Tinkler’s men took early charge of it, scoring through Phala’s thunderbolt shot in the 55th minute.

The left winger blasted the ball home after receiving a superb pass inside the box unmarked.

That goal helped Matsatsantsa a Pitori to settle down a bit.

Tinkler, who was pacing up and down quite often in the first half, could afford moments of sitting down every once in a while as the game proceeded.

Davids, on the other hand, was the exact opposite of Tinkler’s calm demeanour. The Maritzburg coach was bellowing instructions on to the pitch each time his team were on or off the ball.

He was trying to get them back into the game, hoping that they would score an equaliser leading up to next Saturday’s second leg semi-final against the Tshwane side at Harry Gwala Stadium.

His never-say-die attitude helped his side to get back into it. The team of Choice kept on pressing forward, trying to decipher a SuperSport side who were now playing defensively in an attempt to protect their lead.

And Maritzburg were able to do that. Evans Rusike played a sweet pass to Maboe, who was in a good position to take a shot towards goal five minutes before the end.

And when he did that, Ronwen Williams could only catch its shadow.


IOL Sport