BLACK Leopards managed to secure their Absa Premiership status by defeating Ajax Cape Town 3-1 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Ajax needed a win in hope of moving into the top eight, while three points for the visitors would have helped their neighbors Santos, in providing them with a lifeline to avoid the relegation play-offs.
However, it couldn’t have been a worse start for the Cape clubs as Ajax went a goal down inside the eighth minute.
Mongezi Bobe swooped in a cross into the box allowing for Kingston Nkhatha to jump up and beat Sander Westerveld at the near post.
There was an unfair challenge on George Maluleka by Mahlatse Maake in the 13th minute of play.
Lebogang Manyama produced a strike on goal, from a free-kick, but it went out for a corner only for Nazeer Allie to hit a shot from close range, but it went wide of the upright.
Thato Mokeke was booked for a foul on Raymond Monama in the 21st minute, along with Itumeleng Duiker 12 minutes later for a challenge on Maluleka.
Nkhatha was caught offside seven minutes before the halftime whistle before Westerveld managed to safely catch Bobe’s shot from 25-yards in the 43rd minute.
Toriq Lopser was handed his second cap of the season, but it only lasted 44 minutes as he was replaced by Paul Rusike.
Ajax started the second half just like they did the first, by conceding a goal.
Samuel Mabunda headed home a cross off a Maake corner, just five minutes after the restart.
Leopards were not taking any chances and made it 3-0 four minutes later. Maake sent in a cross to Nkosiyabo Xakane who converted off a header from closer ranger.
Things needed to be changed to the visitor’s line-up. Maarten Stekelenburg opted to bring on Cecil Lolo and Brent Carelse in place of Nazier Allie and George Akpabio.
It was Brett Evans’ last game for the Urban Warriors and he crossed the ball from the free kick towards Thulani Hlatshwayo, who took a shot at goal, but it was saved by Azwindini Maphaha in the 79th minute.
Four minutes from the 90 Manyama managed to get a consolation goal when he fired in a 20-yard shot into the back of the net.
The result left Ajax failing to move into the top half of the PSL standings, as they finished their disappointing season in ninth.
Ajax: (0) 1 (Manyama 86’)
Leopards: (1) 3 (Nkhatha 8’, Mabunda 50’, Xakane 54’)
Ajax: Westerveld, Allie (Lolo 58’), Hlatswayo, Mokeke, Evans, Vilakazi, Billiat, Losper (Rusike 44’), Manyama, Maluleka, Akpabio (Lolo 58’)
Leopards: Maphaha, Khoza, Mabusela, Xahane, Maake (Madimba 62’), Bobe, Mabunda (Banda 79’), Duiker, Monama, Dzaga, Nkhatha (Zulu 88’).-Backpagepix