Andrea Fileccia of Maritzburg United wins header against Zolani Nkombelo of Golden Arrows during the 2017/18 Absa Premiership football match between Golden Arrows and Maritzburg United at Princess Magogo Stadium, Durban on 17 December 2017 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Saturday Mar 31, 2018. 17:41
Maritzburg United edged Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 at a rainy Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday afternoon to book their place in the Nedbank Cup semifinals.
Goals from Lebohang Maboe and Andrea Fileccia secured victory for the Team of Choice, while Phunya Sele Sele will reflect on several missed chances and feel the game could have turned out very different had they been more ruthless in attack.
Maritzburg started the match with perhaps the fastest goal of the season, as Lebohang Maboe scored with less than 30 seconds on the clock.
Andrea Fileccia charged down an attempted clearance and the loose ball fell kindly for the forward, who showed great composure to open up space and send a low, left-footed shot into the bottom corner of the net.
On 26 minutes the hosts should have doubled their advantage, with Bandile Shandu latching onto a loose ball after some poor defending to run clean through on goal, but his effort hit the crossbar and rebounded away to safety.
Just before the half -hour mark, Celtic nearly drew level on two occasions: first Lucky Baloyi had his effort from the edge of the box turned away by Richard Ofori, while the subsequent corner kick saw Ronald Pfumbidzai hit the woodwork with a header.
United pushed for another goal early in the second half and they should have claimed it in the 51st minute, with Deolin Mekoa given a clear sight of goal in the penalty area, but he took too long to get a shot away and his effort was half blocked and then easily saved by Celtic’s ‘keeper.
The Bloemfontein side often looked dangerous from set pieces and on 64 minutes they nearly drew level through a shot direct from a free kick by Kabelo Dlamini, but once again Ofori was on hand to turn the ball away for a corner kick.
It seemed only a matter of time until Celtic claimed an equaliser and on 76 minutes substitute Jacky Motshegwa managed to control the ball in the box from a corner kick, turn and get away a shot which deflected through a group of defenders and hit the back of the net to make it 1-1.
Yet parity lasted just four minutes, as Maboe provided a fine pass to put Fileccia through on goal and the Belgian striker provided a superb, first-time finish to beat Dambe and secure a 2-1 triumph for the Team of Choice.
Maritzburg United (1) 2 (Maboe 1’, Fileccia 80’)
Bloemfontein Celtic (0) 1 (Motshegwa 76’)
Maritzburg: Ofori, Xulu, De Reuck, Thlone (Atouba 82’), Shandu, Makaringe, Matima, Ndlovu, Mekoa (Kunene 71’), Fileccia (Mokate 90+2’), Maboe
Celtic: Dambe, Lubisi (Motshegwa 56’), Rikhotso, Gordinho, Pfumbidzai, Ndengane, Maruping, Hotto, Baloyi (Mabaso 83’), Dlamini, Nyundu (Mabena 52’)