The much awaited Nedbank final between The Magic and Greenwood Athletic lived up to expectation on Saturday in front of a large crowd at Solo Street Sports field.
Both teams had to overcome tough opposition to get to the final from their respective leagues. The Magic defeated last year’s champions Steenberg United 1-0 while Greenwood travelled to Beaufort West where they beat Barcelona, Salim Utd and United Pirates.
The opening 15 mins saw The Magic playing with the wind and looking more dangerous in attack while Greenwood managed to maintain the pressure and even create a few counter attack opportunities.
The rest of the half was all action with entertaining football on display from both sides. Greenwood were the team taking the fight to their opponents with good quality combinations but were matched in defence by the experienced Magic side. The match was truly a spectacle with a real display of the ability of our local players, being represented on both sides.
On The Magic side players like Howard Davids who is a former NFD player (CT All Stars/ Richards Bay) and Nazier Jacobs a former PSL player (Polokwane City), had it tough against local boys like Chadley Philander, and Kyle Seegers in the middle of the park.
Seegers is a former Magic player while Philander is a former Ubuntu Academy player and also played at Grassy Park United last season.
At the end of the Greenwood attack was Mickyle George who put in a hard shift but was closely watched by Magic captain Tsepiso Thlapi who as usual delivered a top class performance.
By halftime the match was goalless but ended with Greenwood showing the ascendancy and the excited crowd were hoping for much of the same in the second half.
The next 45 mins was a different story as Greenwood Athletic failed to cope with the gusty wind for most of the half while the experience and class of their opponents was clear to see as they adapted better to the conditions. The Magic played almost every ball from the back and created opportunities up front. The defence of Greenwood stood firm as old foes Zaheer Abrahams and Mark Nefdt, who formed the centre back pairing, showed their ability and calmness under pressure to keep the Magic out.
The Magic managed to break the deadlock in the second half when Thurlo Moosa scored from a corner set piece and gave his team the upper hand for the remainder of the half.
The home side continued pushing for the elusive goal creating opportunities but the Magic keeper, Jaleel Johnson with his defence stood firm to keep Greenwood from scoring.
In the 42nd minute Greenwood had an opportunity to equalise when they were awarded a penalty as Kyle Adriaanse was adjudged to have fouled Mikyle George in the box. George immediately insisted on taking the spot kick but he struck the upright and with that was unable to get the equaliser.
The match ended 1-0 to The Magic and they are through to the last 32 in the competition.
Many of the Greenwood supporters left disappointed but proud of their team’s performance against a giant in local football. For The Magic another opportunity is earned to display their talents on the national stage.