PIETERMARITZBURG – Maritzburg United are still struggling to generate a winning formula after being held to a 0-0 draw by Wits at the Harry Gwala Stadium.
The Team of Choice are now still winless in four Absa Premiership matches this season.
They have lost two and drawn two. United succumbed to defeats against Golden Arrows and Free State Stars, while gaining points at the expense of Kaizer Chiefs and Wits.
They were also dumped out of the MTN8 by Cape Town City in their territory.
Last season, winning was in United’s DNA as they finished fourth in the league, but they have forgotten that winning strategy this season.
United will now travel to Dr Molemela Stadium in Free State, where they will face Bloemfontein Celtic next Sunday.
They had a shaky start on Saturday evening as they made some hospital passes at the back in their attempt to build from their own box.
The duet between Buhle Mkhwanazi and Yannick Zakri was eye-catching.
Pogiso Senoka wasted a sitter six minutes into the match, with Keletso Makgwala driving in an accurate corner kick that found the United defender unmarked at the far post, but he failed to direct his header on target.
Davids overloaded the midfield with Bandile Shandu, Fortune Makaringe and Makgwala.
Siyanda Xulu operated as the link between defence and midfield, while Brian Onyango and Rushine de Reuck paired as the centre backs.
Bokang Tlhone and Senoka were given the freedom to storm forward in the fullback positions whenever the team was in possession.
United’s passes were not crisp as they should have been at the back as they lost possession in elementary fashion at times.
Darren Keet pulled off a spectacular save after 20 minutes as he denied De Reuck, who unleashed a thunderous strike to get the best out of the Bafana Bafana goal-minder.
Makgwala was all over Hlatshwayo and was lucky to escape a red card 25 minutes into the game.
He made a reckless tackle on Makgwala, who cost him the first yellow card.
Hunt sent Vuyo Mere to go and warm up as he was contemplating replacing Hlatshwayo, but decided against making the change.
United did well to restrict Wits from whipping in dangerous crosses into the box, which has been one of their major weapons so far this season.
Richard Ofori was instrumental at the back and commanded his box with aplomb.
Zakri was isolated upfront. He lacked sufficient service from his colleagues.
Makgwala was the star. He was running the show with his zeal and ability to run at the Wits defence. He earned his status as the fan favourite as they were cheering him on every time he was on the ball.
As much as Makgwala caused havoc in the Wits defence, United lacked that fluidity in the final third. You could tell that their attack is still trying to find that chemistry and the precise combination play to penetrate the opposition defence with ease.
Wits assistant coach Paul Johstone was given his marching orders for indecency.
The change finally came as Hlatshwayo made way for Mere at right back.
It was a tactical switch as Hlatshwayo was on a yellow card and he was struggling against the pace and the energy of Makgwala.
The Team of Choice were forced to sacrifice De Reuck. He sustained a hip injury and was replaced by Deolin Mekoa.
He made an instant impact as he tested Keet with a bullet from range, but the lanky goalkeeper made fantastic save to keep his side in the game.
Ofori kept Wits at bay as his defence fell asleep as they gave Deon Hotto an opportunity to find Mxolisi Macupu, who headed his shot on target, but the Ghanaian goalkeeper was equal to the task.
Hunt made another tactical switch as he brought in Simon Murray for Terrence Dzvukamanja.
Murray fluffed a glorious opportunity to make himself a super successful substitution as he ballooned the ball over the bar following a good job by Macupu.
Gift Motupa should have been the hero for Wits. He failed to capitilise on Senoka’s blunder.
Mohau Mokate was also denied by Keet in the dying minutes of the match.