Cape Town - Maritzburg United came from a goal down to secure a dramatic 3-1 win over Jomo Cosmos at Olen Park on Saturday afternoon.
The result sees the Team of Choice secure an amazing recovery and avoid relegation from the Absa Premiership despite spending the vast majority of the season in the red zone, while Ezenkosi suffer direct relegation after University of Pretoria claimed a win over Golden Arrows.
United almost claimed the lead 16 minutes in when a corner kick from Sheldon Van Wyk saw Cosmos’ Mxolisi Mashumbu forced to clear off his own goal line.
Just over 10 minutes later it was Ezenkosi who claimed the lead though Linda Mntambo, who struck home a superb left-footed shot from outside the box which gave goalkeeper Virgil Vries no chance whatsoever.
United reacted to going behind by sending on attacking midfielder Gregory Maasdorp in place of defender Thamsanqa Teyise with just under 10 minutes of the first half left to play, but the interval saw the hosts still 1-0 up.
The Team of Choice made another change in attack at the start of the second half, sending on former Golden Arrows and Kaizer Chiefs player Abia Nale in place of promising youngster Sheldon Van Wyk, who was unable to assert himself in the match.
On 59 minutes Maritzburg almost equalised through Philani Zulu only for Sherwyn Naicker to make a brilliant save, before they were denied what looked to be a clear penalty for hand-ball in the 18-yard area by Thato Lingwati.
Cosmos looked to be in control of proceedings, but in the 82nd minute United’s determination was rewarded with a goal from substitute Mohau Mokate, who put a looping header over Naicker after the ball had ping-ponged around in the home side’s box to make it 1-1.
Just four minutes later Maritzburg’s comeback was completed by Evans Rusike, who arrived late the near post to touch home a right-flank cross from Abia Nale to make it 2-1 and put the KwaZulu-Natal team into safety after spending almost the whole season under threat of relegation.
Rusike added another goal deep into injury time when Cosmos were desperately throwing men forward in search of an equaliser, seeing the final score end 3-1 in favour of Maritzburg United.
Jomo Cosmos (1) 1 (Mntambo 27’)
Maritzburg United (0) 3 (Mokate 82’, Rusike 86’ 90+4’)