Maritzburg's lead slashed to just one point

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United created plenty of opportunities, but simply couldn’t hit the target. The sudden loss of form may be worrying to fans, but coach Ian Palmer insists that it is still too early to start pressing the panic buttons.

“I don’t think that we can start panicking just yet. We lost this game in the first half, by conceding two silly goals because of poor defending,” Palmer said.

“In a way, it is good that we lost now, as this will serve as a wake-up call, and we still have eight games to rectify the situation.”

Palmer’s team were put on the back foot by the visitors’ quick start, and it was no surprise when Linos Chalwe nodded Bay United in front on 17 minutes, after good work on the left from Johannes Segalo. The goal was somewhat controversial; as it appeared that the ball had not fully crossed the line.

Maritzburg’s leading scorer, Fadlu Davids, had a number of half-chances, including a free header, in the first half, but could not find a way past the Bay ’keeper.

The home crowd, which was an improvement on last week’s attendance, grew increasingly frustrated with referee Charles Theron, whose whistle was frequently heard.

On the stroke of half-time, as the home side looked to be getting back into the match, Bay United struck again, as Jimmy Zakazaka came out with a thunderous header.

The second half saw an improved display from the home side. Despite numerous shots on goal, however, they simply could not penetrate the Bay United goal. Even the normally influential Collen Zimba struggled to make an impression, in a performance that was not in keeping with the log leaders’ fine season thus far.

Former Maritzburg coach Vladislav Heric was full of praise for his charges, and insisted that the race was not definitely on.

“I am so proud of my boys and the coaching staff,” the ecstatic Heric said.

“If we had lost this game, we would have been seven points behind, which is maybe too much. But now it is one point, and the momentum is with us.”

Heric revealed that they had prepared meticulously for yesterday’s match, and were ready for the home side’s game plan.

“We have watched them closely from previous games, and we didn’t allow them time and space. We really dominated all departments, and this is really a vital win for us,” Heric said.

Maritzburg United will now look to next Wednesday’s home match against Nathi Lions, to resurrect a season that is starting to wobble. The race for promotion to the Premier Soccer League is definitely back on, and United will do well to recapture their early season form quickly.

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