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Patjie opens up the road for Baroka

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Baroka made a lively start, playing impressive slick attacking football on the back of a short inter-passing game

Baroka FC lifted themselves off the bottom of the Premiership log with a workmanlike 2-1 win over visiting Maritzburg United at the Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane, yesterday.

Baroka entered the match as one of four teams on 17 points at the bottom of the log and after this result, they have moved clear of the relegation zone which is now occupied jointly by Black Leopards, Polokwane City and AmaZulu.

Maritzburg’s seven-match unbeaten streak came to an end after an average performance but they will hold onto their sixth place on the log.

Baroka made a lively start, playing impressive slick attacking football on the back of a short inter-passing game.

They created two half-chances in the opening 10 minutes and one of these fell to Ranga Chivaviro, who failed to control the ball after it ricocheted off the defence.

Maritzburg’s threatened for the first time in the 14th minute when Pogiso Sanoka reeled in a low goalmouth feed from wide out on the right flank.

The ball evaded Baroka’s flat-lying defence and Maritzburg’s Mxolisi Kunene was up with play to connect but Zimbabwean goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze brilliantly turned the ball away for a corner.

Just after the game was halted for a 23rd-minute water break because of the hot weather, Baroka’s Chivaviro, unmarked in the Maritzburg’s penalty box, headed over after he connected with Gerald Phiri’s cross from wide on the right flank.

Towards the end of the first half, Baroka stepped up their intensity and their pressure spell resulted in a goal, a minute before half-time when Maritzburg’s defence failed to deal with a corner.

After an aerial duel in which a host of players challenged, the ball fell at the feet of Ethen Sampson, who side-footed the ball into an unguarded net.

When second-half play resumed, both goalkeepers were soon called into action as teams went in search of goals.

Maritzburg managed the equaliser in the 49th minute when Judas Mosemaedi rose high to head the ball into Baroka’s goal.

In the process, goalie Chipezeze was injured when he fell heavily to the ground after trying to clear the ball in an aerial duel with Moseamedi.

The injury caused a 10-minute delay before Chipezeze was stretchered off and Ayanda Dlamini entered the fray as Baroka’s replacement goalkeeper.

Baroka wasted no time in shaking off the setback and produced a powerful surge which took Maritzburg’s defence by surprise deep in their penalty area.

However, it was left to Richard Ofori, Maritzburg’s Ghanaian goalkeeper, to make two reflex saves, virtually on his goalline, to deny Baroka.

As the second half wound on Maritzburg were forced to settle for a largely defensive role as Baroka continued to hold the upper hand.

During this phase, Baroka often surrendered possession after staging promising attacks deep into the opposition half.

Maritzburg on the other hand maintained composure and looked set to contain the threats until two minutes from the end of regulation time when Baroka pounced with a killer blow.

An innocuous kick up-field cleared Maritzburg’s rearguard and Tshediso Patjie outsprinted the defence before steering the ball home to give his side a deserving 2-1 lead.

In the added 10 minutes of injury-time, Maritzburg’s Rushine de Reuck produced a deft back header which Dlamini cleared to keep this side’s lead intact as under-pressure Baroka desperately held out for a deserving victory.