Bongokuhle Hlongwane and Thabiso Kutumela scored as Maritzburg United defeated hosts TS Galaxy 2-0 in a DStv Premiership clash at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday evening.
The result is a major boost to the Team of Choice’s survival hosts, as the three points lifts them out of the relegation playoff zone – with Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila dropping to second-from-bottom – while the Rockets dropped to eighth as their eight-game unbeaten run came to an end.
Maritzburg went on the attack from the opening seconds and Jose Ali Meza powered forward before firing on target from the left of the penalty area, an effort which required a sharp save at his near post from goalkeeper Marlon Heugh.
Galaxy offered little in attack through the first half, as midfielders Bathusi Aubaas and Mlungisi Mbunjana struggled to get a foothold in the game, leaving attackers such as Wayde Lekay and Mxolisi Machupu unable to make an impact.
The Team of Choice, meanwhile, attacked at will but were mostly restricted to long-range efforts which did not trouble Heugh. One notable exception arrived in the 39th minute when Daniel Morgan’s long diagonal found Kutumela, but the striker’s steered effort was turned away by the hosts’ goalkeeper.
Maritzburg looked to capitalise on their dominance through the first half with an attacking change at the start of the second, withdrawing defender Riyaaz Ishmail and replacing him with midfielder Travis Graham.
Twelve minutes into the second half United had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down by referee Mosemeng, with Meza adjudged not to have been fouled in a tangle of legs with MacBeth Mahlangu.
On 71 minutes Maritzburg almost claimed the lead through a hopeful, lofted ball from Morgan which was surely meant as a cross but almost caught out Heugh and ended up hitting the top of Galaxy’s crossbar.
Two minutes later the visiting side was finally rewarded with a goal: Bongohuhle Hlongwane cut inside from the right flank and curled an unstoppable left-footed shot into the top corner of the net, giving Heugh no chance whatsoever.
On 80 minutes Maritzburg made it 2-0 and effectively sealed the three points: Kutumela drove forward on the edge of the box, momentarily lost possession, but the ball rolled kindly for him and the striker fired home to net in a fourth successive league game.
Galaxy desperately looked for a way back into the game in the dying minutes but United held firm, including a brilliant save from Marcel Engelhardt to deny Machupu in injury time, to ensure they claimed all three points.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action in early April, with Galaxy away to Bloemfontein Celtic and Maritzburg hosting Chippa United.
TS Galaxy 0
Maritzburg United (0) 2 (Hlongwane 74’, Kutumela 80’)
Galaxy: Heugh, Mahlangu (Modisane 64’), Fransman, Msimango, Munyai, Aubaas (Ndlovu 64’), Mbunjana, Matlala (Figuareido 81’), Machupu, Mbatha, Lekay (Shozi 54’)
Maritzburg: Engelhardt, Allie, Ismail (Graham 46’), Morgan, Tlolane (Moseamedi 70’), Meza (Ntshangase 83’), Claasen (Hlubi 83’), Rae, Shandu, Hlongwane (Sifama 90+1’), Kutumela.© Backpage TXT