Peter Shalulile celebrates his goal with his team mates. The strike was the only goal of the match. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

TEMBISA – Highlands Park emerged 1-0 winners over Maritzburg United after a hard-fought league encounter at the Makhulong Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The result leaves Maritzburg rooted to the foot of the table, four points from safety, with four matches left to play this season.

In a tight game, the hosts enjoyed more chances in front of goal and picked up maximum points thanks to Peter Shalulile’s 77th minute strike, with the victory moving them into the top eight.

The opening half an hour had seen neither team offering much of a threat in front of goal. After that, the hosts began to create some chances and should have been ahead through Sello Motsepe, but from only six yards out he made a complete hash of his attempted shot from a cross.

Shortly after, Highlands produced a quick counter attack and when Sabelo Nyembe's cross was deflected goalwards by Maritzburg defender Rushine De Reuck, goalkeeper Richard Ofori had to be alert to prevent an own goal.

The KZN side had been struggling to create much going forward, and a long range effort from Mxolisi Kunene on 35 minutes, which flew just over, was their first real chance.

Five minutes later and the visitors came a closer when Pogiso Sanoka latched onto a corner kick and fired in a volley which seemed destined for the top corner until Highlands keeper Marlon Heugh pulled off an incredible fingertip save.

The home side had the first chance after the restart and Motsepe should have done better than heading over the target following a Ryan Rae throw-in.=

Maritzburg briefly got onto the front foot, but when the next chance did arrive, on 67 minutes, it fell the way of the Lions of the North as Peter Shalulile showed some delightful skill in the box to get into a scoring position, only to pull his parting shot wide.

Highlands Park had been looking the more likely side to score and they were to break the deadlock 13 minutes from time when Shalulile’s low drive from just outside the area crept into the bottom corner of the net.

Shalulile should have doubled the lead two minutes later, but with only Ofori to beat, he shot tamely at the Ghana international.

The Lions of the North wasted a couple of chances to extend their lead, but it proved inconsequential as Maritzburg failed to mount any real threat at the other end of the field. 

African News Agency (ANA)