Match Report - 24 - Mamelodi Sundowns vs Witbank Spurs
Date Published: 14 April 2017 written by Ryan Roberts
The first game on the A field on the official opening day of the tournament pitted two out of town teams against each other. Witbank were sitting on 3 points after picking up a victory in their first group fixture. Mamelodi Sundowns were under a bit more pressure after only securing a goalless draw in their first game.
Witbank were forced into an early substation when their first choice goalkeeper was forced off with an arm injury after a lengthy break in play.
The early phases of the match was evenly balanced with both team trying to play an attacking style of football. The game, however, was a bit stop and start with both teams committing an unnecessary amount of small, niggly fouls. This attacking play even lead to the Sundowns midfield taking pot shots from close to the halfway line.
Mamelodi Sundowns seemed to soon identify a perceived weakness down the Witbank right flank and started to attack their right back more and more. This eventually led to the break in the deadlock. Sundowns played the ball into the left channel behind the Witbank left back and the cross was found by the Sundowns striker who made multiple runs across the Witbank backline throughout the game to win seemingly easy headers. On this occasion, he met it on the far post and picked out the coach’s dream by heading it back where it came from to find the corner of the net.
Soon after the Witbank right back cracked under the pressure and picked up a yellow card for a foul on the opposition wide man when he thought he was going to beaten. He then went from cracked to completely broken mere minutes when he went off his feet when once again beaten by his counterpart, swiftly receiving his marching orders for a second yellow.
Now up against 10 men for more than half of the game Mamelodi Sundowns started cranking up the pressure on a rattled Witbank Spurs.
An exciting first half came to an end with the score 1-0 in favour of the Mamelodi giants.
Mameldi Sundowns started the second half where they ended the first by exerting more pressure on the 10 men of Witbank. As the pressure built the Witbank tactics reverted to lying deeper and hoping to get a goal on the break. This however brought Mamelodi closer to their poles and invited the opposition to create more and more chances. This soon lead Mamelodi to believe they were 2 up only for their celebrations to be cut short by the referee’s whistle being blown just prior to converting for a Witbank free kick.
Witbank went close to losing their second keeper in the match when their goalkeeper rushed out to try and stop a Sundowns attack. The referee deemed that he made a genuine attempt to win the ball and only brandished the yellow card, he also ruled that the contact was mere centimetres outside the penalty area awarding a free kick instead of a penalty.
Sundowns kept up their no nonsense style of play on attack and defence, looking very solid throughout the game.
Sundowns once more exposed the weakness on the right side of the Witbank defence when the left winger drove in down the left channel and in behind the defence, unleashing a clinical low shot into the far bottom corner leaving the goalkeeper with very little he could do.
In the closing stages of the game the Witbank players seemed to lose a bit of composure as a side effect of chasing the game. This caused their up until now crisp short passing game to come undone as they searched for a way back into the match.
The referee brought the match to an end with the scores still at 2-0. The brought on the much needed win for Mamelodi lifting them one point above Witbank in their group and pointing them joint top with Glendene United.