The Team of Choice recorded a narrow 1-0 win over Baroka at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday night to make it six points from their last two matches.
Like in Friday night’s victory over Chippa United (also 1-0, also at home), Maritzburg were by Tinkler’s own admission, far from their usual fluent best.
But there has also been numerous occasions where United have played very well but not taken anything from the game, and despite the battling nature of the victory over Bakgaga, there were several positives to take.
“Obviously it was important for us to get the three points,” coach Eric said.
“I think Baroka is an extremely good team, a difficult team to be honest. I felt they deserved a lot more than what they got against Chiefs (a 0-1 loss last weekend) and possibly even [on Wednesday night at the Harry Gwala Stadium].
“I think the character again shone tonight, the bravery from our players shone again. Two not-so-great performances, but two positive results. And that stems from the fact that we put the ball in the back of the net,” he continued.
“You speak about a clean sheet, and we’ve only conceded five (this season). Other teams who’ve only conceded five, you’ll find that they are sitting right at the top of the table. So our problem has not been defensive, it’s been offensive, we haven’t been scoring.”
Coach Eric admitted his side had struggled in the first half, and explained just how they managed to turn things around after the interval.
“To be brutally honest, first half, Baroka put us under immense pressure. They weren’t allowing us to play out from the back, the pressure was coming, we were losing the ball cheaply, we went into a bit of a panic state, made too many mistakes in possession,” he said.
“So at half time we had to inform the players that we have to have a certain diversity in our game, to look to try and turn the Baroka defence because they were pressing high.
“And I think that’s what we did in the second half and that’s what ended up with us getting the goal and potentially another one right at the death. Again, the character was important, the work ethic from everyone.”
The head coach also made mention of a few outstanding individual efforts in the night.
“Siyanda [Xulu] played out of position in a position he’s not used to, in holding midfield, I thought he was absolutely superb. I thought [goal-scorer on the night, Mxolisi] Kunene did extremely well, the whole backline; everyone.
“Daylon [Claasen], his work rate was phenomenal, [Thabiso] Kutumela and Jeremy [Brockie] as well. That bodes well, it builds the confidence, it’s with the win that the confidence grows.”
Towards the end of last season, when the Maritzburg players had their backs to the wall staving off relegation, they responded brilliantly with an outstanding run of form and results. And it’s that kind of mentality which the Team of Choice mentor wants to see more of on a consistent basis in the coming months.
“The positives are the character of the players, I’m starting to see what we saw at the end of last season,” he explained.
“We had a long discussion with the players to make them aware that yes, there’s a long season ahead, but let’s not leave things so we find ourselves in the same position as last season. So it’s important to show that same character, same aggression.”