Maritzburg United frustrate Orlando Pirates in Harry Gwala Stadium stalemate
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Durban – Orlando Pirates were frustrated and held to a 0-0 draw by ten-man Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday night.
The Sea Robbers will clearly be frustrated that they did not close out the game. They created several opportunities to score while their opponents failed to yield a single shot on target. They also had a one-man advantage for a significant part of the second half after Brandon Theron was issued his marching orders and still failed to make it count.
It was clearly Pirates who dominated the first half as they made a hash of some of their opportunities while Team of Choice goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt bailed his side out for others.
The opening exchanges of the game were confined to midfield before Pirates had their first good opportunity of the game after 15 minutes. Tshegofatso Mabasa found himself in a one-on-one position but Engelhardt made a save with his legs to prevent his side from conceding.
Terrence Dzvukamanja was guilty of wasting a good opportunity for Pirates in the 33rd minute as Linda Mntambo found him with a cross but he failed to get the finishing touch on the ball.
Pirates goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane was virtually anonymous in the first half and Maritzburg mentor Ernst Middendorp was clearly perturbed as he walked to the dressing room at the half-time break.
Middendorp made a statement of intent in the second half as he introduced veteran attacker Daylon Claasen for Riyaaz Ismail.
The change looked to have yielded quick differences in the dynamics of Maritzburg’s play as they did eventually win their first corner of the game in the 55th minute which was headed wide by Ryan Rae.
After overwhelmingly dominating possession in the first half, possession was also more evenly distributed between the two teams in the second half.
The Team of Choice introduced surprise new signing Keegan Ritchie for Lifa Hlongwane in the 63rd minute. The 31-year-old Ritchie who was known for playing in defensive roles during his time with Kaizer Chiefs and Bidvest Wits played in a more attacking role for the Kwa-Zulu Natal-based club.
Middendorp’s side’s second-half improvement was thwarted after 66 minutes as Theron was issued a straight red card following a dangerous studs-up challenge on Thabang Monare.
Shortly afterward Fortune Makaringe cleanly struck a shot on target which forced a sharp reflex save from Engelhardt.
Kwame Peprah nearly did give Pirates the lead in the 75th minute as he struck powerfully from just outside the box and with Engelhardt beaten, his shot was just wide.
Ritchie would have been relieved to have returned to action and showed some sharp touches but his night ended on a sad note as he was injured following a duel with Monare and was subsequently replaced by Lungelo Bhengu in the final ten minutes.
The result means that Maritzburg have now ended a run of two consecutive league defeats. I
n lieu of the way the game transpired, Middendorp’s side can be content with the home draw and take positives from it as their defence absorbed the pressure.
Pirates’ next game will be a CAF Confederation Cup second leg encounter against Diables Noirs at the Orlando Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Maritzburg prepare to host struggling TS Galaxy in a Premiership game at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday afternoon.