Maritzburg United claimed a key win in their fight against relegation from the DStv Premiership, thrashing fellow strugglers Chippa United 5-1 at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday evening.
A brace of goals from Thabiso Kutumela inspired the Team of Choice to a victory which lifts them to 13th place and opens up a four-point buffer to the relegation playoff berth. The Chilli Boys, meanwhile, drop to 14th – just one point and one place above the red zone.
Maritzburg looked the more dangerous team in the opening 20 minutes, with Thabiso Kutumela and Bongokuhle Hlongwane combining for some threatening moments, though they did not call Chippa goalkeeper Ayanda Mtshali into action.
Instead the Chilli Boys claimed the lead on 28 minutes, with Mokhele Maloisane finishing off with composed aplomb as the visitors put together a fine attack. Ayabulela Konqoba provided the assist for the opening goal.
The Team of Choice responded superbly to going behind and deservedly claimed an equaliser on 36 minutes. A clever flick from Hlongwane put Kutumela in on goal and the striker coolly sidefooted home with his left to make it 1-1.
Two minutes later Maritzburg hit the front, with Kutumela continuing his red-hot form with another goal. This time the striker took advantage of some space on the edge of the penalty area, cracking home from a half-volley to put his hosts 2-1 up.
Late in the first half defensive midfielder Sandile Mthethwa made way for striker Bienvenu Eva Nga, with Chippa not even waiting until the half-time interval to make an attacking change.
The start of the second stanza saw Kutumela almost pick up where he left off in the first, with the Maritzburg striker calling Mtshali into action within seconds of the restart, as the hosts showed their resolve to claim a key victory.
A third goal for the Team of Choice duly arrived in the 50th minute: Tebogo Tlolane played a delightful ball to set up Hlongwane, who set himself before firing past the goalkeeper into the bottom corner of the net to make it 3-1.
The visiting side almost pulled one back in the 53rd minute, but both Konqobe and striker Augustine Kwem were denied by Maritzburg goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt, who made an outstanding double save to defend his side’s two-goal advantage.
Chances kept flowing at either end, with Tlolane seeing an effort cleared off the goal line by Gregory Damons three minutes past the hour mark, before Chippa went up the other end and saw Kwem sting the palms of Engelhardt.
The hosts killed off the game as a contest with 10 minutes of regulation time remaining, as the hard-running Tlolane got the goal his efforts deserved. A defensive blunder from the visitors saw Jose Ali Meza slip in Tlolane, who cut inside before firing in at the near post for 4-1.
Meza then turned from provider to scorer, finding the net himself in the 86th minute of the match to make it 5-1 and put an exclamation point on a potentially season-changing performance from Maritzburg United.
Chippa United will be back in DStv Premiership action on Monday 12 April with a clash at home to Mamelodi Sundowns, while Maritzburg’s next league clash is away to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila on 20 April.
Maritzburg United (2) 5 (Kutumela 36’ 38’, Hlongwane 50’, Tlolane 80’, Meza 86’)
Chippa United (1) 1 (M. Maloisane 28’)
Maritzburg: Engelhardt, Rae (Stevic 86’), Daniels, Morgan (Allie 70’), Shandu (Moseamedi 70’), Claasen, Graham (Ntshangase 82’), Tlolane, Meza, Hlongwane (Ismail 70’), Kutumela
Chippa: Mtshali, Damons (Lebitso 72’), Msane, Nhlapo, Hanamub, Konqobe, Mthethwa (Eva Nga 45’), Mdlinzo, Laffor (P. Maloisane 56’), M. Maloisane, Kwem© Backpage TXT