By CHRIS TOTOBELA
Makhanda’s football lovers braved today’s cold weather and made their way to JD Dlephu stadium to support the only local side left in the New Year’s Cup tournament.
First up in Saturday 21 December’s round of knockout matches was Gauteng-based Manyora against the well-drilled Bhisho Stars in an entertaining encounter won by the Bhisho side with two unanswered goals.
In the main game, Makhanda side MARU took on United Eleven from Bathurst. Both teams meant business from the word go and attacked hard, searching for an early advantage.
United got the first real chance of the game when their striker’s shot flew over the crossbar. MARU created a few good opportunities but failed to make them count. Both teams went to the halftime break locked at 0-0.
The battle of the midfield intensified in the second half and there were some superb exchanges from both sides. The home fans finally got something to cheer for when MARU’s skipper Vuyani Skeyi pounced on a loose ball to give the home side the lead.
United fought their way back into the game and put MARU under pressure, forcing them to make mistakes at times. Yet still United could not find the net.
Sandile Mali ended any hopes United might have harboured with a well taken ground shot that left the United keeper for dead, to double MARU’s advantage.
United never stopped fighting, but the home defence stood firm until the referee blew the final whistle, bringing to an end this thrilling game .
MARU marched on to the quarter-finals with a 2-0 victory and keeps Makhanda’s hopes alive.