03/21/2012 6:15 AM
Black Leopards picked up a massive three points as they defeated Maritzburg United 1-0 in their rain-delayed Absa Premiership clash in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday night.
Leopards are currently second from bottom but they edged to within two points of Santos after the People's Team lost 2-1 to Golden Arrows. Maritzburg are a further four points above Santos in 13th place after this latest setback.
The Team of Choice had been thumped 4-1 by Arrows in their last match while Leopards where unlucky to go down 3-2 to Platinum Stars. Raymond Monama struck in the 55th minute to give Leopards their fourth win in 21 Premiership games this season. But the match was suspended after three minutes, due to persistent rain. After a break of more than an hour-and-a-half, officials opted to continue where they had left off.
Cuthbert Malajila took the first shot in anger for Maritzburg, sending his effort harmlessly over the bar in the 13th minute.
The hosts, however, were put on the back foot early on, though Leopards struggled to convert. United goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters was troubled by a couple of tame efforts in the first 20 minutes, first by Vincent Mabusela, from a free kick, and then Rodney Ramagalela.
Maritzburg hit back in the closing stages of the first half, with Leopards shot stopper Azwindini Maphaha keeping out a free kick from Kurt Lentjies and an effort from David Booysen.
Ramagalela wasted an opportunity in first-half injury time, with Walters again standing firm, as the sides were left all square at the break. Ten minutes into the second half, Ramagalela set up Monama who found the back of the net from inside the area.
Walters was again forced into action midway through the second period, saving a shot from Kingston Nkhatha. In search of the equaliser, Maritzburg came close with eight minutes left, but Wayne Matle fired a header over the bar.
Leopards nearly stretched the gap further, with Maphaha blocking another effort from Lentjies in additional time, and the visitors, flailing in the relegation zone, bagged three crucial points.