Subs Lesch and August swing game Vasco’s way
VASCO DA GAMA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(1) 3 (Zuma 26, Lesch 81 August 85) MARITZBURG UNITED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(1) 2 (Arwuah 30 Madondo 90) SUBSTITUTES Keenin Lesch and Bradley August came off the bench to hit two late goals as Vasco da Gama defeated Maritzburg United in a PSL fixture at Newlands last night.
Maritzburg, down to 10 men after the sending off of Fadhlu Davids in the 46th minute, battled for most of the second half.
Nevertheless, it was only when Lesch and August entered the fray towards the end of the half that things started to happen for Vasco.
Lesch, the club captain, has been battling injury all season, which is why he was only a sub last night. But when called on, he didn’t disappoint, crashing a sensational shot on the half volley into the net.
August, the for mer Bafana striker, also came on to show he had lost none of his zest. After his initial header was parried by Maritzburg keeper Shu-Aib Walters, August slammed in the rebound.
For Vasco’s opening goal, it was again veteran 35-year-old former Bafana striker Sibusiso Zuma who got on the scoresheet. He has been a revelation since arriving at the newly promoted Cape club and has been the inspiration for their solid debut in the PSL
Zuma’s goal last night was his sixth of the season – and he is now joint top of the PSL’s leading scorers, joining Kaizer Chiefs’ Knowl- edge Musona and Mpho Maleka of MP Black Aces.
Vasco midfielder Cole Alexander was the man of the match, for the second game running. And this young man, on loan to Vasco from Ajax Cape Town, is certainly making a name for himself.
Vasco, believe it or not, are now in eighth position on the PSL log, something very few would have predicted at the beginning of the season.
The opening 25 minutes last night, though, was a bit of a snore, with only a shot wide of goal from Vasco’s Zeka Karkee worth a mention.
Both teams lacked energy and gave possession away as if Christmas had come two weeks early. The lacklustre, disjointed nature of the game could perhaps be attributed to the justified criticism of quite a few of the PSL coaches – that the fixture programme is too stop-start and doesn’t allow teams to develop any rhythm and flow. As soon as players get into gear, there is another break in the calendar for cup games.
It certainly remains an issue for the PSL to deal with, if games are expected to be attractive and entertaining.
It was only in the 26th minute last night that the match sprung into some semblance of life when pacy Vasco right wing Jonathan Armogam sped down the right channel as if the devil’s disciples were after him.
Once he had got clear of Maritzburg left-back Elias Ngwepe, his cross into the penalty area found Zuma, who with the composure of age and experience tucked the ball into the net.
Two minutes later, Zuma had a great opportunity to add another goal when sent clear by an intelligent pass from Josephy Kamwendo, but this time he stabbed the ball tantalisingly wide of goal.
But, as has been the case for Vasco quite regularly this season, they lost focus at the back, failed to close down Maritzburg’s John Arwuah just outside the penalty area and the midfielder curled a superb shot into the top corner of the net.
It was magnificent effort and worthy of an equaliser.
One minute into the second half, Maritzburg United were reduced to 10 men when captain Davids was sent off. The referee adjudged that he had used his elbow in an aerial duel with Vasco defender Francois Adams. He was flashed a yellow card for the second time in the match and, subsequently, had to take an early shower.
With the advantage of one man, it was the cue for Vasco to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Zuma had another chance, but shot wide, while Armogam caused havoc down the right channel, fashioning a few opportunities from which nothing materialised.
Vasco then dominated play and possession, but lacked penetration and creativity to break down the resolute Maritzburg defence. Until Lesch and August, that is.
ON THE CHARGE: Vasco striker Jonathan Armogam leaves Maritzburg’s John Arwauh in his wake at Newlands last night.