Johannesburg - "One special kick decided it," said Maritzburg United coach Steve Komphela after his team went down 2-1 to Black Aces as the last 32 round of the Nedbank Cup got underway at the Mbombela Stadium on Wednesday night.
"That free-kick from Lehlohnlo Nonyane from just outside the penalty area in the 20th minute that opened the score for Aces was quite amazing for its precision and was ultimately the difference between the two teams," said the Maritzburg coach.
"Ironically we had two or three similar free-kick chances from outside the area, but we were not able to produce the magic.
"In all other respects we matched Aces in an entertaining game that could quite easily have gone either way."
The luck of the draw had decreed the game was a repeat of the first round encounter between the same two teams in the first round of the 2014 Nedbank Cup tournament, with United winning by a 2-1 margin on that occasion.
"I'm over the moon we made it this time," said Aces and former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker.
"The team has gone through something of a rough patch and it was good to see the players shrugging off recent results and two first-round losses in Cup games this season and coming back to their best form.
"It was something we needed, particularly against a team under the helm of Steve Komphela, when you know he will always come up with a bag of tricks and make life extremely difficult.
"The win was the tonic we needed and I'm hopeful we will now continue in the same vein and cement a place among the top eight teams in the Premier League."
The game took on a decisive direction when Nonyane opened the score for Aces with a goal that will rank among the best of the PSL season.
A swerving shot from a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area sailed into the top corner of the net and left Vries with no chance of saving.
And Nonyane was undoubtedly Aces' hero of the night, having earlier prevented United from scoring when he cleared Thamsangqa Mkhize's shot off the goalline.
United gave as good as they got for the remainder of the opening half and were well into the game until Dino Ndlovu made the score 2-0 in the 60th minute with another goal out of the top drawer.
The former SuperSport United player was making his debut for Aces and could hardly have begun his career with the Nelspruit club in more emphatic fashion.
Maritzburg showed their fighting spirit by coming close to scoring on several occasions before Ghanaian Mike Mohammed Anas finally reduced the deficit in the 75th minute with the third top-class goal of the game.
Maritzburg's valliant bid for an equaliser was hampered by the late sending off of Ryan De Jongh, but even with 10 men the Kwazulu Natal team were only thwarted in the 85th minute by another timely save by Jackson Mabokwane in Aces' goal.