After a tightly contested opening 30 minutes in Tembisa, Highlands enjoyed the first chances of the game as Sello Motsepe missed the target from only six yards out, before Richard Ofori was called into action to save an attempted clearance from defender Rushine De Reuck.
United’s first real chance came 10 minutes before the interval as Mxolisi Kunene fired a long range effort narrowly over the bar.
The Team of Choice continued to press and they were unlucky not to take the lead in the 40th minute when Pogiso Sanoka hit a sweetly-timed volley, only for Highlands keeper Marlon Heugh to affect a brilliant fingertip save.
After the restart, the Lions of the North were to enjoy the better of the chances as Motsepe headed over the bar in the 47th minute before Peter Shalulile beat a couple of defenders in the box and then put his shot marginally wide, midway through the second stanza.
It was Shalulile who was to break the deadlock as he beat Ofori with a low shot from 20-yards out which went into the bottom corner.
Shalulile and Nyembe then squandered chances to add another goal for the hosts, and although Maritzburg fought hard in the closing minutes of the game for an equaliser, a well organised home defence limited their chances on goal.
Highlands: Heugh, Fransman, Williams, Mokoena, Motsepe, Rae, Shongwe, Mahlangu, Nyembe, Motlafi, Shalulile.
Subs: Peters, Haoseb, Ramoraka, Mvala, Ndoro, Sibande, Mogaila.
Maritzburg: Ofori, Kunene, Xulu, Allie, Sanoka, Makaringe, Timm, Kateregga, Moseamedi, De Reuck, Zakri.
Subs: Mpandle, Figareido, Matsi, Kutumela, Shandu, Mokate, Mekoa