Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Maritzburg United are through to the next round of the lucrative Absa Cup after a hard-fought 2-0 victory over a stubborn second division side Island FC, in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday.

However, the scoreline is not a true reflection of the game. The young lads from Nongoma made United sweat for the two goals scored by Sandile Ndlovu and Collen Zimba in the second half.

The game started on a fast pace, with Island showing no respect for their big brothers. They played like a well-oiled machine, but were let down by inexperience in front of goals. Island failed to convert the numerous chances they created, particularly in the first half.

In the 13th minute, United's goalkeeper, Dejan Bogunovic was forced to make a daring save from Donald Mnanzana who connected well with former AmaZulu midfielder, Mdu Buthelezi's pass.

Realising that the youngsters were pressing, United upped their game and on the 15th minute, Grant Igesund missed a sitter when he shot narrowly wide from a Mark McVeigh cross on the right wing.

Six minutes later, Ndlovu could not believe his eyes when he tapped just wide from Calvin Sosibo's cross inside the six-yard box. Sosibo had been put through by David Makgale.

The half-time score was 0-0. United introduced Zimba in the 51st minute and that's when problems began for Island.

Zimba took the game to them and the defence cracked. His presence clearly eased the pressure on Ndlovu who had been bottled by Sthembiso Ntuli.

Ndlovu opened the scoring for United with a bicycle kick from Sosibo's corner, and seven minutes later, United's reserve keeper, Aime Kitenge was sent off by referee Thabo Nkosi for interfering with the game while on the bench.

Zimba was presented with a gift by Island defender, Sthembiso Ngidi who chested the ball for him inside the box and he slotted in.

Coach, Heric Vladislav, said despite going through to the last 16, their priority is to stay in the PSL.

"We will be concentrating on the league because we want to stay in the PSL, but that does not mean we don't want to do well in the cup," he said.

Island were booted out in the same stage last season, hammered 6-1 by Santos.