POLOKWANE City moved to the top of the promotion/relegation playoff log with a 1-0 victory over Limpopo rivals Black Leopards at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Defender Vukile Mngqibisa’s goal in the 28th minute of the first half was enough to separate the teams, though Rise and Shine needed to put in a disciplined defensive performance against a Lidoda Duvha team that dominated possession.
The result sees Polokwane top the three-team mini league on four points. Leopards are second on three points following their weekend win over Milano United, who are placed last with one point to their name.
Despite initially struggling to get their passing game going on the bumpy playing surface, it was Leopards who dominated the opening exchanges and stamped their authority on the match.
On the 20 minute mark Abubaker Mumuni let fly from long range and sent his effort just wide of the target, with Polokwane goalkeeper Modiri Marumo scrambling across his line in worry.
Seven minutes later Lidoda Duvha put together a great passing move that opened up their opponent’s defence and allowed Brian Amidu to slot the ball into the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed due to offside.
Just seconds later City took the lead against the run of play. A seemingly harmless free kick floated into the penalty area allowed defender Vukile Mngqibisa to score with a simple header, this after goalkeeper Jacob Mokhasi had drifted aimlessly off his line and left his goal unguarded.
The hosts also had to make an unscheduled early substitution, with striker Esau Kanyenda succumbing to injury and attacking midfielder Thabo Rakhale coming off the bench to take his place in the 31st minute.
City almost added to their advantage early in the second half, with Rakhale denied by Mokhasi, before a follow-up effort by Jabu Maluleke was cleared off the goal line by a defender.
Leopards went on to dominate possession from there on, but they were simply unable to create clear-cut chances, with Marumo not called upon to make any save of real significance due to his defence’s determined showing.
In fact, City should have wrapped up the match with a second goal late on – Puleng Tlolane created a chance for himself with a wonderful first touch and turn just inside the penalty area, but he proceeded to fire his volley wide of the far post with just the ‘keeper to beat.
The next playoff fixture sees Polokwane City host Milano United at the old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday afternoon, kick-off at 15h00.
Polokwane City (1) 1 (Mngqibisa 28’)
Black Leopards 0
Polokwane City: Marumo, Molekwane, Mngqibisa, Tshilo, Lichaba, Mdluli (Mthimkhulu 61’), Molala (Motsiane 83’), Maluleke, Moyana, Tlolane, Kanyenda (Rakhale 31’)
Black Leopards: Mokhasi, Monyai, Nyirenda, Munganga, Mabotja, Ntshangase, Manaka, Mumuni, Sibeko (Mahangwahaya 64’), Amidu (Ndou 54’), Matlakala (Sangweni 80’).-www.psl.co.za