Maritzburg United 1-0 Cape Town City: Tinkler’s men derailed by Team of Choice

Cape Town City’s 10-match unbeaten run came to an end in Maritzburg as Lentjies scored with a late free-kick to hand his side a vital win

Kurt Lentjies scored the only goal of the game as Maritzburg United narrowly beat Cape Town City 1-0 at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Monday afternoon. 

The veteran midfielder stepped up to beat former teammate Shu-Aib Walters with a stunning strike in the closing stages of the game, and as a result, ended City’s 10-match unbeaten run in the league.

Cape Town City didn’t show the same intensity they did in their previous match against Kaizer Chiefs, as they allowed the home side to dictate terms in the first half.

While the Team of the Choice dominated the first half, they couldn’t turn their dominance into goals as the Mother City outfit held firm and denied them space in the final third.

It was a game of grudges for a number of Cape Town City players who turned out for Maritzburg United in previous seasons such as Walters, Bhongolethu Jayiya and Thamsanqa Mkhize.

However, their inside knowledge hardly helped Eric Tinkler as the home side executed Fadlu Davids’ game plan well for the better part of the encounter.

The hosts created a few goalscoring opportunities in the first 45 minutes, with Mlondi Dlamini coming close barely 15 minutes into the match, but the midfielder skied his effort over the crossbar form inside the box.

Dlamini was definitely Maritzburg’s standout performer throughout the 90 minutes as City struggled to deal with his pace and dribbling skills. 

Maritzburg United thought they had the ball in the back of the net 14 minutes before the interval when Lentjies got behind City’s defence before firing home, but the goal didn’t stand as the assistant referee on the far side had his flag up way before the midfielder made contact with the ball.

Eric Tinkler was livid going into the half-time break as his side failed to test Virgil Vries, let alone have a shot at goal throughout the opening 45 minutes.  

The visitors showed aggression and verve going forward in the second half, and they were tactically disciplined from defence to the striking department where Lehlohonolo Majoro was playing.

Majoro had a good chance to put City in front two minutes into the second period after a delightful pass by Vincent Kobola on the far side of Maritzburg’s penalty area, but the striker opted for a cross instead of poking the ball home with Vries off his line.

Dlamini continued to terrorize City’s defence, and his hard work nearly paid off when Andrea Fileccia came close to firing Maritzburg ahead around the hour-mark.

Tinkler changed things around soon afterwards, introducing Judas Moseamedi for Majoro in an effort to add more firepower upfront, especially because captain Lebogang Manyama and midfielder Aubrey Ngoma were both tightly marked.

City’s best chance of the game came in the 76th minute when Ngoma received possession inside the box, only for his attempted shot to be blocked by Kwanda Mngonyama before Maritzburg recovered to clear their lines.

At this stage, the home fans were still rallying behind their team while they patiently waited the deadlock to be broken.

It was eventually broken when Lentjies curled in a free-kick with seven minutes to go, although Walters would look back and blame himself for not doing enough to prevent the ball from kissing the back of the net.

In the end, Maritzburg United walked away with all the points on offer to further strengthen their chances of finishing in the top eight at the end of the season. 

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