By Sports Focus Reporter
Moroka Swallows kept their hopes of surviving the relegation dreaded axe alive with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Platinum Stars in an Absa Premiership match played at Dobsonville Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The solitary goal of the encounter was hammered home by Bradley Ritson who connected with Siyabonga Nomvethe’s cross in the 89th minutes of the game.
The home team made it clear from the first whistle that they meant business with Siyabonga Nomvethe and Cheika Cisse frustrating Platinum Stars’ defenders.
But Platinum Stars who were without suspended Mbulelo Mabizela, Solomon Mathe, and Dillon Shepered were not going down without any fight as they also launched attack after attack in search of a goal.
Vuyo Mere was the first to ask Platinum Stars’ keeper, Tapuwa Kapini, questions, but his shot went inches wide in the 5th minute.
Platinum Stars retaliated with some good moves, but Greg Etafia did well to save Joseph Molangoane’s shot in the 21st minute.
The missed chances did wonders for the game as both teams were forced to come out of their slumber and try to get that important opener.
The half time score was 0-0.
Swallows were business-like in the second half as they made sporadic attempts at the visitor’s goalmouth. Mesmeric runs by Siyabonga Nomvethe caused the visitors considerable concern.
Playing away from home, Platinum Stars also surged forward, and tried hard to adjust to the conditions and forced Swallows to defend deep into their own half, but they failed to punish their opponents when they had them under siege. Credit must also go Stars’ keeper, Tapuwa Kapini for pulling off a number of great saves.
In an attempt to change the situation, both coaches made changes in the second half with the hope that fresh legs will provide them with that important opening goal and the move worked in Swallows favour.
At some stages of the game some players resorted to rough play and referee Dean stamped his authority and in the interim, Macbeth Sibaya, Keegan Ritchie, Bradley Ritson, (Swallows) and Reuben Thebekang, and Almiro Lobo were booked.
Swallows were hell bent on destroying their opponents in the dying minutes of the game and it needed a touch of class to decide it. It was obvious that Bradley Ritson was the man when he headed home a Siyabonga Nomvethe’s cross in the 89th minute to give Swallows the much awaited lead.
Meanwhile, bottom-of-the-log Mpumalanga Black Aces registerred only their third win in the Absa Premiership when they beat Golden Arrows 2-1 in a league match at the Puma Rugby Stadium on Sunday afternoon. A first half brace from Mpho Maleka was very crucial to give the team’s fourth of the season, Mark Harrison, the perfect start.
It was an impressive first half display by Aces as they found themselves going into the half time break two goals up. The home side looked a shadow of the team that had previously suffered 17 league defeats this season.
Instead, Aces passed the ball well and looked the far superior of the two teams in the opening 45 minutes.
MP Black Aces (2) 2 (Maleka 21’ + 37’)
Golden Arrows (0) 1 (Collins Mbesuma 80’)
Teams: 4-4-2: Etafia, Mere, Lekgothoane, Mphahlele, Nergadze, Sibaya, (Ritson 73rd) Tsutsulupa, Mmotong, (Chabangu 46th) Cisse, Nomvethe, Machapa (Ritchie 64th).
Platinum Stars: 4-4-2: Kapini, Nyauza, Thebekang, Nyanda, Sambu, Mpangase, Lobo, Williams, Molangoane, Phala, (Botes 76th) Mongalo (Grobbler 64th)