Dull match is enlivened by late strike from Losper as home side end Maritzburg’s golden away run
A late goal from Toriq Losper handed struggling Ajax Cape Town a much needed win over Maritzburg United in the Absa Premiership on Friday, pushing them away from the relegation zone.
Losper, in his first season in the top flight as a regular, drilled the ball home from close range in the 86th minute after a run inside from the Brazilian substitute Wanderson for the only goal of the match.
It meant Maritzburg suffered their first away defeat of the season and remain in fourth place while Ajax moved up two places to 11th.
The goal set off a frenetic finish to a largely dull match as veteran Delron Buckley squandered a good chance to equalise soon after the goal and add to his 35th birthday celebrations.
Ajax then managed to hit the woodwork in the 88th minute as the sparse crowd at a windswept Athlone Stadium finally found something to enthuse over.
Ajax almost came unstuck as early as the fourth minute when Matthew Booth’s shallow back pass almost allowed Ryan de Jongh but Sean Roberts, in for the dropped Sander Westerveld, was quickly off his line to avert the danger.
Bradley Grobler had a chance in the eighth minute on his return from injury but after controlling well with his chest hit his shot wide and seemed to hurt himself in the process.
A dour opening period then livened up on the half hour mark when Maritzburg’s assistant coach Ronnie Kanalelo and physiotherapist Garth Oliver got sent to the stands after a verbal altercation with boisterous referee Victor Gomes.
Lebogang Manyama then set off on a mazy run from the right wing, weaving past three defenders and could best have crowned his endeavor with a slip pass inside but instead tried to go all on his own and ended up completely miscuing a left footed effort.
With three minutes to half time, Manyama again went on his own after another burst of speed saw him into Maritzburg danger zone but his attempt to drive it past Shu-Aib Walters was smothered by a quick response off the line by the away goalkeeper.
It took 10 minutes before the first effort after the interval, a speculative long range effort from Mthokozisi Yende that Roberts had little trouble dealing with.
Grobler almost put Lopser in on goal midway through the second half but a timely interception from former Ajax defender Mario Booysen rescued Maritzburg.
The away side showed their intent by withdrawing midfielder Thabang Matuka for Zimbabwe international striker Terrance Mandaza for the final 20 minutes.
Khama Billiat’s best chance came with 10 minutes left but although he beat the goalkeeper his effort went wide and he was again not as effective as the home crowd would have hoped for.