Maritzburg United spoilt Ajax’s top eight finish chances, when they defeated The Urban Warriors 2-0 at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday evening
Ajax started the match with basically the same squad they used to defeat SuperSport United in their previous league encounter. That is apart from the one change of injured Keagan Dolly, who was replaced by Abbubaker Mobara.
Opportunities were limited at either end in the opening half, and apart from the early chance by Terrance Mandaza, Maritzburg came late into the match to threaten the visitors.
In the second minute Rheece Evans made a great run down the right line, and swiftly skipped past Mosa Lebusa to setup Mandaza who was unable to find the target. Five minutes later Tashreeq Morris had the best chance for the Urban Warriors in the opening half, with a clear view on goal and just the goalkeeper to beat, but the attacker’s effort went straight into the hands of Shu-Aib Walters.
The Mother City outfit kept things tight at the back and moved the ball around neatly in the opening stages of the match. Their main tactic was a long ball directed at the lanky Eleazar Rodgers, although the home side did enough to contain the visitors.
The Team of Choice should have taken a one goal lead in the 19th minute through Heinrich Isaacks. The Namibian attacker received a pin point flick on by Mandaza from a long ball by Walters. Isaacks cleverly tried to slip the ball between the legs of Anssi Jaakkola, but the shot stopper was fortunate to get a slight touch on it to push the ball out for a corner.
As the match approached the half hour mark, the home side seemed to have stepped up a gear and were more competitive. Their confidence had grown and they were creating more chances in front of goal.
In the 25th minute Bhongolwethu Jayiya had a headed attempt at goal from a set piece, but a well-positioned Jaakkola saved comfortably. Before the stroke of half time The Team of Choice came close once more when Nhlanhla Vilakazi had a free header inside the 18 yard area, but his attempt went wide.
Maritzburg came out blazing in the second period, and it took them just three minutes to find the back of the net. Mandaza had made a run down the left before whipping in a fantastic floating ball towards the back post, where Isaacks unselfishly headed the ball down into the stride of Jayiya who hit a superb half-volley.
In the 59th minute substitute Koen van de Lark lofted a through ball to Rodgers over the Maritzburg defense, but the attacker was unable to keep his composure inside the area and fluffed his headed attempt wide.
Steve Komphela’s side doubled their lead in the 62nd minute after Vilakazi was fouled by Nazeer Allie inside the area. Team of Choice captain Michael Morton confidently stepped up and sent Jaakkola the wrong way.
With 20 minutes to go, van de Lark fired a stunning 35 yard shot which Walters saved superbly to maintain their two goal lead. As the match came to a close, Rodgers was denied by Walters from within six yards. The attacker's headed attempt from close range was pushed over the woodwork.