PLATINUM Stars have kept their Absa Premiership title aspirations alive with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over a game Maritzburg United at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Wednesday night.
It looked as though the game may be headed for a goalless draw, before Robert Ng’ambi and Thuso Phala popped up late to score for Stars.
The victory, coupled with Kaizer Chiefs’ loss at Ajax Cape Town earlier in the day, leaves Dikwena three points behind Amakhosi with two games to play.
Chiefs’ vastly superior goal-difference gives them the edge, but Stars remain very much in the hunt.
The home side were dealt a blow before kick-off when goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane was ruled out with a hand injury. The stopper has been outstanding for Dikwena this season, but was replaced by Botswana international Kabelo Dambe.
Maritzburg were without central defender Mohammed Awal, who was suspended, while veteran Delron Buckley was also absent.
Stars certainly started the brighter and Henrico Botes and Tintswalo Tshabalala had early shots at goal that both drifted wide.
They continued to dominate the possession statistics, but up against an organised Maritzburg defence, battled to create clear-cut chances.
Dillon Sheppard had two efforts on goal late in the half for the visitors, but Dambe was equal to both.
It was more of the same in the second half, but arguably the best of the chances fell to the away side and they hit Stars on the counter-attack.
First substitute Orlando Smeekes fired over when well placed, before Namibian international Heinrich Isaacks forced a good save from Dambe.
The goal the home side craved finally came on 83 minutes as Ng’ambi showed great composure to fire into the roof of the net.
And as Maritzburg pushed forward for an equaliser it was inevitable they would leave gaps at the back.
Phala used his pace to exploit these as he added a second. After being put into space by Lindokuhle Mbatha, the Bafana Bafana star fired the ball low into the back of the net.
Next up for Platinum Stars is an away trip to Lamontville Golden Arrows on May 11, while Maritzburg United host Ajax Cape Town on the same day.
Platinum Stars (0) 2 (Ng’ambi 83’, Phala 88’)
Maritzburg United 0
Stars: Dambe, Mere, Gumede, Mhlongo, Mpeta, Phala, Ng’ambi, Mathe, Msomi, Tshabalala (Mbatha 63’), Botes
Maritzburg: Walters, Petersen, M Booysen, D Booysen, Cloete (Zulu 67’), Evans, Morton, De Jongh, Isaacks (Mandaza 87’), Sheppard, Malajila (Smeekes 60’)
In another interesting game, BidVest Wits cruised to the fourth place on the log with a 2-1 victory over the unpredictable University of Pretoria with SuperSport United dropping from the fourth position to the sixth position after they lost 2-1 to the high-ridding Bloemfontein Celtic who are now on the fifth position.
The rest of tonight’s Absa Premiership results are: Moroka Swallows 4 v Golden Arrows 1 and AmaZulu 4 v Black Leopards 0, –www.psl.co.za