Subs Lesch and Au­gust swing game Vasco’s way

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - ROD­NEY REINERS

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.

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