UNITED SUFFER KILLER LATE BLOW IN NEDBANK CUP EXIT
22 February 2020
A 94th minute goal by Bloemfontein Celtic condemned Maritzburg United to a 3-2 defeat in a round of 16 Nedbank Cup thriller at the Dr Molemela Stadium on Saturday night.
The Team of Choice had scored first through Thabiso Kutumela in the 16th minute, only to find themselves behind after Celtic found the net in the 23rd and 62nd minutes. United then looked set to force the match to extra time when Kwanda Mngonyama netted in the 89th minute, only to concede deep in added time.
Maritzburg had to weather an early storm as the hosts came out playing with real intent from the kick off and there was a close call in the sixth minute when Lantshene Phalane thundered a 35-yard shot against the woodwork.
But United started to get more of a foothold in the game as proceedings went on. And with 15 minutes played, Mxolisi Kunene won possession just outside the Celtic box before passing the ball to Daylon Claasen, whose cross was handled by opposing defender Justice Chabalala and a penalty was awarded.
Kutumela stepped up for the spot kick and coolly beat Jackson Mabokgwane to give Maritzburg the lead.
That however stung the Free Staters into action and after Bongani Mpandle did well to save a Phalane free kick, the scores were levelled up in the 23rd minute when Tumelo Njoti stole in with a headed goal after a couple of slip-ups in the Team of Choice’s rearguard.
Phunya Sele Sele kept their foot on the pedal as more chances followed and Mpandle had to react very sharply to keep out Maloisane Ramasimong’s bicycle kick before Tebogo Pontsane fired narrowly over the bar from the edge of the area.
There was also a let-off for Maritzburg moments after the restart when Mzwanele Mahashe managed to lift the ball over the bar from just a few metres out at the back post.
Jeremy Brockie had an effort blocked before Celtic again came close when Ramasimong ran onto a defence-splitting pass but sent his parting shot inches wide as Mpandle came charging off his line to close the angle.
With 61 minutes gone, Mpandle was unable to hold onto a low drive from Ndumiso Mbena, which enabled Ramasimong to scramble the ball into the net from close range to give the home side the lead for the first time.
Maritzburg reacted to the setback by taking the match to Phunya Sele Sele and were unlucky not to equalise with 25 minutes to play when Bongokuhle Hlongwane’s shot was blocked by Chabalala on the line.
They continued to attack and Kunene was almost in to score in the 88th minute after a neatly-worked move, only to have his shot brilliantly saved by Mabokgwane.
From the resultant corner however, United had their goal after Pogiso Sanoka’s brilliant flicked effort was parried by Mabokgwane into the path of Mngonyama, who fired the ball into the roof of the net.
But there was heartbreak for the KZN club right at the death as the Free State team went on a swift counter-attack with the ball worked wide for Siphelele Luthuli, who located Harris Tchilimbou eight-yards out from where he snuck the ball into the net off the upright.
Celtic: Mabokgwane, Rikhotso, Ngobeni, Maloisane, Mahashe, Njoti, Chabalala, Baloyi, Phalane, Potsane, Mabena
Subs: Chaine, Maema, Tani, De Jongh, Luthuli, Sera, Tchilimbou.
Maritzburg: Mpandle, Sanoka, Mngonyama, Xulu, Kunene, Ntshangase, Timm, Claasen, Tlolane, Kutumela, Brockie.
Subs: Ofori, Shandu, Buchanan, Hlongwane, Jappie. Morgan, Nyoni