MARITZBURG - SuperSport United must love playing Maritzburg United after they snapped an eight-game winless run with a 1-0 win against the same side they last beat on the road.
The Pretoria outfit climbed one place up to 11th with their first triumph in nine appearances. A goal by midfielder Aubrey Modiba late in the second half killed Maritzburg’s hopes of registering a hat-trick of wins.
Supersport last won a domestic match away from home when they triumphed 2-0 at Harry Gwala Stadium to advance to the final of the MTN8. On Wednesday night they again had the measure of the home side but were made to sweat for the three points, having last won in the league in late November.
The desperation of Supersport United to snap an eight-game winless run in the Premiership and the home side’s bright start to the year made for a hotly contested affair in the KwaZulu-Natal capital. Two yellow cards flashed by referee Luxolo Baai to visiting pair Morgan Gould and Dean Furman in the first half attested to the competitiveness.
It was an equal battle on the touchline where Supersport coach Eric Tinkler’s frantic waving was countered by the constant signalling by his counterpart Fadlu Davids who was plotting a hat-trick of victories.
The action intensified the humidity in the atmosphere, with Supersport camping in the home half for chunks of the opening period. With Jeremy Brockie sold to Pretoria neighbours Mamelodi Sundowns this week, Thabo Mnyamane and Kingston Nkhatha led the attack.
The former drilled in four corners in the first six minutes, giving Ghanaian goalkeeper Richard Ofori probably his toughest challenge since he arrived in the country at the start of this season. The lanky Ghana number one struggled to cleanly take most balls arrowed in aerially at set-pieces.
Davids went for consistency, sticking by the unit that won their last two outings against Ajax Cape Town and Bloemfontein Celtic. However they were forced to rely on turnover scraps against a solid midfield led by Furman with support from Reneilwe Letsholonyane.
Half chances fell for Deolin Mekoa who blazed one over from a good position, but Maritzburg were fortunate not to concede when Aubrey Modiba made a rare attacking foray on the left and rammed the ball past Ofori and wide of the far post in the 45th minute.
Modiba was kept almost invisible early on as Maritzburg defended resolutely to nullify the wing threat he and Thuso Phala on the other flank represented.
It turned more into a chess game as the second half wore on. Supersport kept switching play in search of openings while the Midlands men were satisfied to counter after soaking up the pressure. Little was seen of Siphesihle Ndlovu and Lebohang Maboe who were more active going forward in the earlier two victories.
Modiba gave a hint of things to come when he tested Ofori in the 74th minute, and it was no surprise when he knocked in the winner four minutes later off Phala’s cross.