SuperSport looked to end their Premier Soccer League (PSL) slump when they travelled to Pietermaritzburg to take on an on-form Maritzburg on Wednesday evening. Both sides had experienced contrasting fortunes of late and that showed in the team selection as Fadlu Davids opted for consistency as he named an unchanged starting XI. Once again the Team of Choice mentor entrusted Siyanda Xulu and Bevan Fransman with the defensive responsibilities, with Evans Rusike leading the line.
On the side of Matsatsantsa, Tinkler made several changes. Most notably, Teboho Mokoena had to settle for a place on the bench with Reneilwe Letsholonyane returning to the starting XI. As expected, SuperSport entered the encounter with a point to prove as they went on the attack from the off. It was an utterly dominant half of football by SuperSport who bombarded Maritzburg’s box with numerous set pieces, but their defence held firm as they survived some very close shaves.
Maritzburg on the other hand looked promising but were unable to muster anything of real substance upfront as Reyaad Pieterse was a relative spectator. That was until Deolin Mekoa had arguably one of the half’s best chances. The 24-year-old showed good composure to open up space for himself in the box but could only blast his effort wide as the scores remained level.
Chances were certainly at a premium during the opening stanza, but coach Tinkler could not fault his player’s effort as they constantly looked to assert their dominance on the encounter. But to Maritzburg’s credit they remained organised.
However, with the half-time whistle looming, SuperSport would have been disappointed not to have been ahead when Aubrey Modiba was unable to find the target with only the keeper to beat. The 22-year-old was superbly played through on goal by Thabo Mnyamane, but his finish left much to be desired as it went well wide off Richard Ofori’s goal.
The second half was a much more open and equal affair as both sides went in search of the elusive opener. Maritzburg in particular, fashioned several good opportunities but were let down by their final pass.
But while the first half belonged to SuperSport the second saw Maritzburg look the more enterprising, and with just under an hour played, Maritzburg finally found a way through the SuperSport backline and had a glorious chance to steal the lead. But substitute Sipho Mbule made a sensational block to alleviate the danger.
Meanwhile, at the other end Ofori was finally forced into a save. Modiba showed good skill as he dribbled the ball inside the opposition’s box, but his shot was straight at the Ghanaian goalkeeper.
Minutes later though, the left winger would not be denied as he poked the ball home after a flick on by the SuperSport attacker. Modiba's goal which came with 10 minutes to go would be the decisive blow as try as the KwaZulu-Natal outfit did, they could not breach the SuperSport defence, as Tinkler’s men registered their first win since November of 2017.