Free State Stars beaten in Bethlehem

Free State Stars beaten in Bethlehem
Evans Rusike of Maritzburg Utd

by Graeme Jackson

Saturday Jan 20, 2018. 17:35

Free State Stars’ winning streak was ended at four matches after they suffered a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Maritzburg United in Bethlehem on Saturday.

The Absa Premiership clash at Goble Park saw Ea Lla Koto downed by second-half goals from the Team of Choice’s Andrea Fileccia, Evans Rusike and Bandile Shandu.

The result takes United to fourth place on the table with 27 points from 18 matches, while Stars will drop to third as they remain on 28 points from the same number of outings.

Maritzburg suffered an early blow when captain and defender Bevan Fransman suffered a head injury in an aerial challenge and was substituted in the seventh minute by youngster Rushine de Reuck.

Chances were few and far between, mostly due to the excellent defending on show. One such example came to the fore on the half hour mark when Maritzburg put Evans Rusike in on goal, but the Zimbabwean was stymied by a superb last-ditch tackle from Nyiko Mobbie.

United also had a couple of threatening moments late in the half from well-delivered Deolin Mekoa set pieces, though goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare was able to awkwardly palm away in both instances.

The second half started with a bang, as within a minute of the first whistle Maritzburg sent striker Andrea Fileccia free down the left of the penalty area and the Belgian coolly finished with a low shot to put the visitors 1-0 up.

Stars almost came up with an equaliser in the 54th minute: Harris Tchilimbou’s corner kick picked out Bengali Keita, but the big defender’s goal-bound header was superbly saved by Richard Ofori.

Yet just five minutes later the Team of Choice doubled their advantage, with Rusike controlling a ball forward from Siphesihle Ndlovu before turning his defender and firing home low a shot shot from a couple of metres outside the penalty area.

Bandile Shandu nearly put his side three goals up with just 10 minutes to play when he controlled a neat ball in the middle of the box, but his stabbed shot at goal was brilliantly turned away by Sangare.

However, Shandu was more ruthless when presented with another chance in the 87th minute, running onto Ndlovu’s through ball before firing the ball into the roof of the net to give the ‘keeper no chance.

Free State Stars 0

Maritzburg United (0) 3 (Fileccia 46’, Rusike 59’, Shandu 87’)

Stars: Sangare, Mashego, Teyise, Keita, Mobbie, Makhaula (Manqele 63’), Masehe, Maphakisa (Hlubi 75’), Jantjie, Tchilimbou, Mthembu (Anas 57’)

Maritzburg: Ofori, Fransman (de Reuck 7’), Xulu, Onyango, Sanoka, Makaringe, Mekoa, Ndlovu, Maboe, Fileccia (Shandu 67’), Rusike (Matima 86’)

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