Maritzburg United moved up to third position on the league table on Friday night with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Polokwane City at a wet Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.
An early goal from Pogiso Sanoka and a strike from Siphesihle Ndlovu had put United in command in what was a tightly-contested game, before City ensured a tense finish after Muhammad Sulumba pulled one back three minutes before the end of regulation time.
The visiting side had the first chance of the evening in the opening minute when Sanoka had the ball stolen off him by Sulumba, who did well to pick out Puleng Tloane, but his parting shot from inside the box was woefully off target.
But Maritzburg hit back and after Siyanda Xulu had headed over, the home side took the lead in the seventh minute when Sanoka pounced to score from six yards out after a goal-mouth scramble had ensued from a Deolin Mekoa cross, with both Mohau Mokate and Andrea Fileccia influential for the KZN team.
More action followed as Fortune Makaringe put through a brilliant ball for Fileccia, but he was denied by a fine George Chigova save before Mekoa curled an effort inches wide.
Polokwane also had chances, towards the end of half, but Tlolane, Rodney Ramagalela and Walter Musona were all unable to make it count.
Chances were exchanged after the break as Mokate fired straight at Chigova, before Ramagalela drew a save out of Maritzburg keeper Richard Ofori.
The Team of Choice then had what looked a good shout for a penalty turned down after Thapelo Tshilo’s untidy challenge on Mekoa, the latter instead booked for simulation.
Rise and Shine began to take a hold of proceedings and Ofori had to get down smartly to keep out Walter Musona at the near post, before Mekoa wasted a good chance for the hosts on the counter-attack when he dragged a shot wide.
Just when the Limpopo team were turning up the heat on United on a rainy evening with some incessant attacking, Ofori smacked a 75th minute goal clearance straight down the other end, allowing Ndlovu to outstrip the visitors’ defence, hold off a challenge and coolly beat Chigova; a brilliantly composed finish from the 21-year-old who was called up to the Bafana Bafana squad this week.
There was a late twist in the tale as Polokwane City grabbed an 87th minute goal when Sulumba bundled in the ball from close range after Ofori had let a cross slide through his hands.
Maritzburg had to work hard in the final minutes as their opponents pushed for an equaliser, but they were able to hang on for the win which takes them one place up the table to third, at least before Saturday’s fixtures are played.