COACH ERNST HAPPY WITH CLEAN SHEET, CONTENT WITH DERBY POINT
18 January 2021
Maritzburg United had to battle hard for a point against AmaZulu in a 0-0 DStv Premiership KwaZulu-Natal derby at the Kings Park Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Maritzburg United head coach Ernst Middendorp says that cutting down on the goals conceded column has been one of his priorities since taking charge.
The Team of Choice’s form has steadily improved under Middendorp and in first three matches of 2021, we have claimed seven of nine points in the DStv Premiership.
This followed a 2-1 win over Bloemfontein Celtic, a 2-0 away victory over Kaizer Chiefs, and most recently, at the Kings Park Stadium on Sunday, a 0-0 draw with AmaZulu. In total Maritzburg are unbeaten in four when the 2-2 draw with Stellenbosch FC just before Christmas is taken into account.
Key in taking a point from ambitious Usuthu was United’s defence, including goalkeeper Jethren Barr who put in a Man-of-the-Match showing in Durban.
“A good [factor] is definitely a clean sheet, a second clean sheet, with excellent goalkeeping today, no doubt,” coach Ernst said.
“We have not really produced a lot in our forward movement, but we won a point against a strong team.
“Its always an ambition to win a game. Sometimes you have to be realistic, where are you sitting, where are you coming from,” he added.
As Maritzburg look to make their way up the standings after a tough start to the season, coach Ernst has emphasised that its a process which will not happen overnight.
“We made it very clear – with the goal difference we have, its too much, we can’t concede consistently two goals per game – to stabilize yourself first, that was very important for us,” he said.
“Secondly of course, playing forward, to make sure we have the right movement in half spaces.
“We are very concentrated on step by step to progress, and step by step to move out of this deep position, to come a little bit closer to the center (middle of the table), that’s our target and in the end I can sleep very point from this one point in the derby.”
While Barr made some top class saves, he was also quick to credit the men in front of him for a gutsy overall team performance.
“Difficult point today, we had to absorb a lot of pressure," said the keeper. "I thought my defence did well today – we really had to deal with a lot of balls coming into the box, so credit to them and the whole team.”
Next for United is a home encounter in the DStv Premiership with TS Galaxy on Wednesday evening, 5pm kick off at the Harry Gwala Stadium.
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