Wits fail to capitalise against Maritzburg United
BIDVEST WITS (0) (0)
MARITZBURG UNITED (1) (1)
Games in hand are not points earned. That’s a football notion that Bidvest Wits are appearing to give life to week in and week out after they lost 1-0 to Maritzburg United at Bidvest Stadium on Wednesday night - their second loss in three matches.
The gruelling catch-up matches have always been a test of character for either side looking to escape from the relegation quagmire or aiming to keep up with the chasing pack, and such has been the case for the Clever Boys.
Following the completion of Caf Confederation Cup where they bundled out in the group stage matches after a winless streak in six matches, the Clever Boys came into this encounter 15 points behind runaway champions Kaizer Chiefs, who had played four games more.
But while Wits could only close the gap to three points with collection of maximum points, they they hadn’t made things easy for themselves, either, after managing only three points out of six in the last two matches.
Plans, however, further went south with today’s defeat as the gap remained the same, needing Chiefs to lose at least two games for the Clever Boys to keep their chances of winning the Premiership title alive.
To add, the Clever Boys’ downfall here tonight left a big grin on Chiefs’ coach Ernst Middendorp who had embraced the chilly weather conditions at this venue, also hoping to analyse his next opponents Maritzburg.
You see, it is small issues such as fatigue that were also going to a be a source of concern for Gavin Hunt, who made five changes to the starting line-up that defeated Orlando Pirates in the last-32 of the Nedbank Cup last Sunday.
So much that those changes forced the Clever Boys into an unfamiliar game-plan, using long-balls to stretch a Maritzburg side that kept shape, were appeasing on the eye and looked destined to score whenever they sent foray into the home side’s box during the first half.
But all it took would be well taken strike from Thabiso Kutumela on the stroke of half-time to send the Team of Choice to a well-deserved lead during recess – a goal that punished the Clever Boys’ wasteful antics from set-pieces.
A double tactical substitution just before the kick-off the second half, where Deon Hotto and Gift Motupa took the field in the place of newbies Kgaogelo Sekgota and Eva Bienvenu, brought confidence to the Wits’ striking contingent that started to attack with purpose.
Such that the Clever Boy looked to have rewarded themselves with a penalty when Motupa looked to have been bought down by Rushine De Ruck in his box, but referee Jelly Chavani ruled for a corner-kick.
Subsequently, it was the visitors that hung on for the three point as they went equal with their counterparts but remained sixth on the log standings due to an inferior goal difference following a resurgent season, where they’ve also been in a cup final.
For Hunt and his troops, the search for finding the formula that will inspire them to a consistent run of form if they are to keep up with the chasing pack continues with an away trip to Polokwane, where they’ll face Baroka on Saturday.