Goalkeeper Jethren Barr saves the day for Maritzburg United
DURBAN - Maritzburg United have goalkeeper and man of the match Jethren Barr to thank as they earned a 0-0 draw with arch-rivals AmaZulu in the Kwa Zulu Natal derby at the Jonsson Kings Park Stadium in Durban yesterday afternoon.
Benni McCarthy’s Usuthu side were the more enterprising team and had it not been for Barr they could have easily won the game 3-0.
Speaking after the game, Maritzburg coach Ernst Middendorp conceded that a draw was a good result for his side.
“We won a point. There was good goalkeeping. In a derby we have to decide the direction we are going and keeping a clean sheet was important knowing that we are two points clear of the bottom. We are not celebrating but we got a point away from home which was fine,” he said.
“The commitment was to my satisfaction but there were moments where I felt we could have done better,” added the German.
Once highly rated as a youth product with the now-defunct Bidvest Wits, Barr enjoyed a subdued start to his professional career. Now 25, he is showing just why he was so highly rated as a teenager.
AmaZulu shot-stopper Veli Mothwa had a very quiet afternoon in comparison to his Maritzburg counterpart. The former Chippa United keeper did make an alert save in the sixth minute. Clayton Daniels played a brilliant diagonal ball to Thabiso Kutumela who forced a save from Mothwa.
In the 22nd minute, Judas Moseamedi had an opportunity to put Maritzburg ahead after taking advantage of a misplaced pass from Makhehlene Makhaula. He tried to sneak it past Mothwa but ended up losing his balance towards the end and sent his effort wide.
Xola Mlambo came close in the 33rd minute with a long-range effort that struck the side netting as it went out. Usuthu did beat Barr once in the game and that was in the 43rd minute as Lehlohonolo Majoro struck the bar after Augustine Mulenga played him in with a good pass.
Usuthu increased their dominance in the second half as Majoro forced a save from Barr at point-blank range in the 48th minute.
Bongi Ntuli made his first appearance of the season coming on in the 65th minute to replace Majoro. The 29-year-old scored 13 goals last season to help the KZN based side avoid relegation and though he had a quiet afternoon after coming on, McCarthy will be hoping that he can reignite his flame as he continues to regain match fitness.
Barr again made a great save in the 82nd minute as Thapelo Xoki managed to strike a free-kick on target.
AmaZulu coach McCarthy cut a frustrated figure after the game and feels that his side threw away a possible win.
“Three points went down the drain. Within a short period of time, there was identity. In our 1-0 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs we had a bit of difficulty. We got in this game but were not clinical,” McCarthy said.
“Their coach was happy with the point but we feel we dropped two points. The performance was good. We used the width of the pitch but if we are more clinical, we will get more chances.
“We were a bit too casual in front of goal. They hung on for dear life and got what they came here for. We could have easily won.”