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Maritzburg United take one step closer to safety after beating high-flying Royal AM

Keegan Richie of Maritzburg United challenges Shaune Mogaila of Royal AM FC during their DStv Premiership match at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Keegan Richie of Maritzburg United challenges Shaune Mogaila of Royal AM FC during their DStv Premiership match at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Published May 4, 2022

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Durban — Friday Samu scored the only goal of the match as Maritzburg edged Royal AM 1-0 at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday night and moved four points clear of the relegation zone.

Samu continued his rich vein of form in front of goal when he found the breakthrough for the home side in the 22nd minute.

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The Zambian International leaped the highest in the Royal AM box and made a good connection with a Keegan Ritchie corner and beat Hugo Nyame who could've done better to keep out the effort.

A Team of Choice outfit on a five game winless run hosted the in-form side of the DStv Premiership brimming with confidence and chasing a CAF Champions League spot.

Thwihli Thwahla went into this encounter with a bounce in their step after being confirmed as the winners of Q-innovation 3 earlier on in the day.

Relegation battling Maritzburg had a ten day break before this clash and therefore started the match with the same 11 that played against TS Galaxy.

However, Royal AM coach John Maduka was not afforded that luxury as he had to make do without the services of Thabo Matlaba and Mxolisi Macuphu while leading marksmen, Victor Letsoalo started from the bench.

The opening half an hour was played at an incredibly high tempo while Royal AM edged the possession stats, both sides showed intent with Maritzburg looking dangerous on the counter attack.

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Mfundo Thikazi was the most lively in the first half as he confused the Maritzburg defence by taking up dangerous positions all over the pitch and almost found the equaliser in the 43rd minute if not for the good work of Maritzburg goalkeeper, Marcel Engelhardt.

Royal AM would need an inspired second half performance if they wanted to take advantage of Cape Town City slipping up earlier and possibly manoeuvre a three point gap going into the final three games of the league.

Coach Maduka made the first move at half time and brought on Letsoalo and this decision almost paid off as the star forward missed out on a chance to draw his side level in the 57th minute.

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Thikazi delivered a glorious free-kick on the far post that found Letsoalo unmarked but the 28 year old's effort was brilliantly saved by the reflexes of Engelhardt.

Maritzburg coach Ernst Middendorp would've been pleased to see his charges battle on to try and get all three points as Royal AM piled on relentless pressure looking for the equaliser.

The Team of Choice will have another chance to continue their fight for survival when they travel to Stellenbosch in their next match while Royal AM can bounce back against another KZN rival in Golden Arrows.

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@SmisoMsomi16

IOL Sport

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