POOR finishing was the order of the day for Thanda Royal Zulu as they were forced to settle for a goalless draw in yesterday’s first-leg promotion play-off match against Bay United in Richards Bay.
Siyabonga Pela and Sandile Gumede were the main culprits for the hosts, but almost the entire team had chances in the semifinal clash.
United’s chances were few and far between at the Richards Bay Sports Stadium, although they are likely to be pleased to come away with a clean sheet ahead of the second leg at home on Saturday.
There was a quick downpour before kick-off but once the game got underway, the Amabhubesi looked mainly untroubled.
They began promisingly and had an early chance when captain Christopher Manoka weakly turned Peter Wadabwa’s cross straight at Modiri Marumo.
The United goalkeeper was next forced to dive forward after a testing long-range shot by Gumede from the left as the hosts looked dangerous.
They continued to pour forward with Marumo forced to turn over a corner, before another break by the home side saw Pela force the visiting custodian to sprawl to his right and tip over a 20-yard strike from the right.
At that stage it was one way traffic, and apart from the rare break forward, United struggled to really get going.
Chances continued to come for Thanda – Manoka and Kanika Matondo firing narrowly wide – with Thanda boss Mlungisi Ngubane forced into a 23rd minute substitution when Edward Malinga went down and had to be replaced by Koffi Konan.
Matondo twice sent free-kicks over after set-pieces were conceded in dangerous areas of the field with Thanda seemingly lacking that cutting edge.
Six minutes before the break, United finally managed to test Oscar Ramogoadi, with the Thanda goalkeeper first having to punch away a corner and then Siyabonga Nontshinga’s flicked header parried away.
Pela wasted an excellent chance heading into stoppage time – Charles Gallagher giving away possession and Enva Wiltwer making full use by passing to his teammate, who was let down by his control.
It was goalless at the break and after the restart, Pela wasted another excellent chance to put his side in front when he weakly headed wide from eight yards out.
He was subsequently replaced by Phumudzo Manhenze, but the move did little to change things in front of goal.
Wadabwa and Wiltwer both shooting over from decent positions as the home crowd also began to grow restless.
United themselves began to grow in confidence as the game entered the last 20 minutes and Nontshinga could have done better with his six-yard header from a Michael Mulaudzi cross nodded straight at Marumo.
The Port Elizabeth side had a further brace of chances shortly after with substitute Mulondo Sikhwivhilu twice wasting with poor attempts as the game ended goalless.
Thanda Royal Zulu
30-Oscar Ramogoadi, 4-Billy Ratsoana, 19-Sipho Made, 2-Asanda Mvalo, 16-Edward Malinga, 14-Christopher Manoka,, 9-Peter Wadabwa, 20-Enva Wiltwer, 25-Sandile Gumede, 12-Siyabopnga Pela, 26-Kanika Matondo.
Substitutes: 27-Phumudzo Manhenze, 24-Sifiso Sithole, 22-Khumbulani Mdluli, 21-Nkosinathi Ogle, 10-Lucky Mzizi, 13-Koffi Konan, 35-Tampungu Dikete.
26-Modiri Marumo, 15-Mashiane Phadu, 20-Charles Gallagher, 6-Siphiwe Sithole, 4-Million Mkhabela, 13-Zamuxolo Ngalo, 10-Michael Mulaudzi, 3-Kopano Sekgobela, 17-Bernard Molekwa, 27-Siyabonga Nontshinga, 19-Lunga Zondi.
Substitutes: 30-Nkueni Mayala, 24-Tshepo Letshaba, 32-Phumelele Bhengu, 16-Matome Machaka, 33-Klaas Galane, 9-Mulondo Sikhwivhilu, 11-Vincent Khumalo.-PSL