Maritzburg end winless run

Mor Diouf © Backpagepix

Maritzburg United snapped a six-game winless streak in the Absa Premiership with a 3-1 victory over Jomo Cosmos at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday afternoon, secured by goals from Mor Diouf, Felix Obada and Prince Olomu.

After picking up just two points from the last 18 up for grabs, this victory – a first since September – will come as sweet relief for the Team of Choice and coach Ian Palmer. As for Cosmos, an inability to build on the momentum of the win they claimed over Platinum Stars last time out means they remain rooted to the bottom of the log.

Cosmos almost opened the scoring in just the second minute of the match with what would have been a sublime goal, as striker Siyabonga Nonthsinga chested down a great ball from Bamuza before getting away an acrobatic volley, but United goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters was well-placed to make the save.

A short while later Nontshinga put a glancing header wide of the far post from a corner kick as Ezenkosi continued to look the stronger team in the opening phase of the match.

Yet Maritzburg gradually began to get a foothold in the game and on 17 minutes they had a great chance to open the scoring, as a floated cross from the right flank found Prince Olomu unmarked at the far post, but the Nigerian attacker put his header wide of the mark.

Just past the midway point of the first half Maritzburg’s Michael Morton almost scored his first professional goal, firing off a left-footed volley that forced veteran goalie Avril Phali into a sharp low save to keep the score at 0-0.

On 31 minutes Phali was called into action again, sprinting off his line to bravely block a shot from Diyo Sibisi at point-blank range after the striker had sprung Cosmos’ offside trap well a well-timed run.

Four minutes later Phali made yet another vital intervention for his team, doing just enough to tip a fearsome free kick from Mor Diouf onto his post. By this stage it looked a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ the Team of Choice would find the back of the net.

And in the 41st minute they came close yet again. Morton floated in a great cross from the left flank and Sibisi directed a header goal-ward only to see it strike the woodwork. Felix Obada picked up the rebound but put his shot over the crossbar.

At last, on 43 minutes, Maritzburg found the back of the net. Diouf powered home a header from a corner kick to put the home side ahead and break a goal drought in the Absa Premiership that had stretched for over 400 minutes.

After a fairly uneventful first 20 minutes of the second half United doubled their advantage, with winger Obada scoring from a long range shot that took a big deflection off Cosmos defender Ofusu Appiah and cruelly wrong-footed Phali.

Cosmos pulled a goal back in the 78th minute when Elhadji Samb crashed home a shot after good set-up play by substitute Alton Meiring, but any hopes they had of a comeback were soon snuffed out by Prince Olomu, who finished neatly past the advancing Phali to make it 3-1 with 10 minutes to play.

Maritzburg United (1) 3 (Diouf 43’, Obada 64’, Olomu 80’)
Jomo Cosmos (0) 1 (Samb 78’)

Maritzburg: Walters; Petersen (Evans 71’), Diouf, Hendricks, Matuka, Obada, Morton, Madondo, Ncubeni (Matle 56’), Olomu, Sibisi (Booysen 82’)

Cosmos: Phali; Shitolo, Berthe, Appiah, Hlalele (Moloto 46’), Samb, Sono (Meiring 71’), S. Nhlapo, Theletsane, Tukane (Pila 46’), Nontshinga