PIETERMARITZBURG – It was hot and humid and humid, and Maritzburg United were on fire as they grilled Bloemfontein Celtic 4-0 in an Absa Premiership match at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday night.
A first half strike from Pogiso Sanoka, and second half efforts from Mohau Mokate, Andrea Fileccia and Evans Rusike gave Maritzburg their biggest victory of the campaign, eclipsing the first round 3-0 triumph over Baroka.
The result stormed the Midlands club five positions up the table to fourth.
It was a fiery end to a game that had a lukewarm start. Just as the first half appeared headed towards a stalemate the home side switched a gear and grabbed the lead through defender Sanoka’s 38th minute header from close range. It was a team effort, engineered with precision after an initial corner kick by Deolin Mekoa was scrambled away by Celtic.
Mekoa floated the ball deep to the far post, defender Bevan Fransman nodded it back towards the middle and Sanoka finished off the training ground set-piece routine.
Siphesihle Ndlovu’s runs through midfield helped lift Maritzburg and the crowd from slipping into slumber land. Before the goal he played striker Mohau Mokate through and a shimmy from the forward caught defender Lorenzo Gordinho off balance such that he landed on his rear end. If anything that might have been the catalyst for the Team of Choice because the supporters were disturbed from their forty winks and started to cheer their side on.
Until then half chances fell to Maritzburg’s Rusike, Mokate, and Celtic’s Deon Hotto.
The goal spiced matters as Victor Letsoalo tested home goalie Richard Ofori with a grounder, and at the other end Patrick Tignyemb tipped over Ndlovu’s drive as the half closed on a high note.
Celtic’s Serbian coach Veselin Jelusic introduced striker Roggert Nyundu for midfielder Neo Maema at the restart but before they could threaten it was 2-0, after Mokate slid in for a close range conversion.
Anchored in midfield by versatile Fortune Makaringe, Maritzburg dominated with Lebohang Maboe growing more influential as the home unit caught Celtic back pedalling on numerous occasions.
The two-goal cushion placed Maritzburg on course to go three games unbeaten and secure a sixth league win.
They suffered a scare when Namibian winger Hotto fired a shot against the post, and were pegged back briefly when Jackie Motshegwa replaced Letsoalo.
Maritzburg coach Fadlu Davids countered with the substitution of Mokate with Andrea Fileccia, the Belgian opened his account with the third in the 75th minute, followed by Rusike’s cherry on top of the icing with an 88th minute goal from range.