PORT ELIZABETH – Chippa United put four points between themselves and bottom-of-the-log Maritzburg United after coasting to a 2-0 league win, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, on Saturday afternoon.
Chippa remain in the relegation zone, behind Baroka FC on goal difference, but are now within two points of the three clubs above them.
It wasn't just the result, but the nature in which his side rather meekly succumbed and how they posed very little threat in attack, which would have been of major concern to Maritzburg head coach Muhsin Ertugral.
After a goalless first half in which the Chilli Boys squandered a series of chances, second half goals from Tebogo Tloane and Andile Mbenyane took them to victory, and it could have been an even bigger win had the hosts been more clinical with the numerous openings they created.
With Maritzburg looking cagey from the outset, Chippa dominated the opening half and created a series of excellent goal scoring chances, only to let themselves down in front of the net.
They were at it from kick off and were not far off from breaking the deadlock with just a minute played, when Kurt Lentjies headed over from close range following a Thabo Rakhale cross. Lentjies returned the favour 10 minutes later, when he dinked in a lovely pass for Rakhale, but the latter fired his volley wide of the target.
After a couple more openings for the Chilli Boys, Maritzburg should have taken the lead against the run of play when Justice Figuareido whipped in a great cross in the 24th minute, but from just five yards out, Thabiso Kutumela got his footing all wrong and ended up playing the ball back into play rather than into the net.
There was no question though that the hosts were on top and they had another great opportunity when Frederic Nsabiyumva arrived unmarked at the back post to get onto a free kick, but instead of picking out one of three teammates on the goal line, he sent a volley wide of the far post.
Chippa continued to ask questions of the visiting defence, but had to wait until the second half to score as Tloane sent a thunderbolt of a left-footed shot from 30-yards out into the top corner in the 54th minute.
The lead was doubled nine minutes later, when Mbenyane got a flick on a Lentjies corner, the ball deflecting off defender Rushine De Reuck and into the back of the net.
More chances followed for the hosts and it took a couple of excellent saves from Maritzburg keeper Richard Ofori to keep out Boikanyo Komane, Lerato Manzini and Rakhale.
In the end it was a comfortable win for Chippa – just their third league victory of the season - and new coach Clinton Larsen will have taken heart from an excellent performance.
African News Agency (ANA)