Witbank - Losing to a single goal from Lebohang Mokoena, MP Black Aces look set to continue on their stutter out of the PSL when they went down 1-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday afternoon at the Puma Rugby Stadium.
Despite missing a number of key players in the midfield due to injury, Sundowns still managed to go into the half time break a goal-up and with the slight edge over the Mpumalanga side.
The Brazilians definitely settled the faster of the two teams and were quickly into their passing rhythm with their first decent chance on goal coming in the ninth minute of the match.
Some good build-up play by Sundowns saw Katlego Mphela find himself with the ball at his feet on the edge of the 18 yard box and he did not hesitate to fire on goal with his weaker left foot. Oscar Ramogadi, however, was on hand for Aces diving full stretch to his right to deny the Bafana Bafana striker the games opening goal.
Four minutes later and the Brazilians thought they had found the games first goal when Siyanda Xulu headed home for the visitors from a Matty Pattison free-kick, but the goal was quickly ruled off-sides.
Aces, however, had no such luck in the 26th minute when Lebohang Mokoena did eventually break the deadlock. Mokoena was the quickest to pounce on a loose ball after Ramogadi produced another superb save to deny Mabhuti Khenyeza. But unfortunately for the Aces keeper he parried the ball into the path of Mokoena who did not hesitate to grab his second goal of the season and his side’s first on the day, 1-0.
For the remainder of the second half the home side proceeded to crowd the midfield and not allows Sundowns any space to play. Aces tried to get themselves back into the game and despite controlling possession for the final 15 minutes of the half they could not create any real chances on goal.
The second half saw the Mpumalanga side make an immediate change removing Tebogo Monyai and Lehumo Itshegetseng and replacing them with Lindokuhle Mbatha and Godfrey Nobula respectively in the hope that they would be more attacking.
And it almost paid dividends immediately when Madoda Motha pulled the best out of Brian Baloyi in the 53rd minute. Motha rose above the Sundowns defence to head a cross goalwards but Baloyi was at his best diving low to his left to tip the effort around the post for a corner-kick.
Nobula came close again for Aces seven minutes later when he let fly with a ferocious shot from about 35 yards out that just skimmed the wrong side of the up-right with the keeper well beaten.
That was about as good as it got for the home side. Although they were by far the better team in the second 45 minutes as the Sundowns midfield tired, they could not capitalise on their dominance.
The match ended 1-0 and Sundowns can consider themselves lucky to have held onto their 1-0 lead. But at the end of the day a win is a win and the Brazilians walked away with the three points and moved up to fifth on the log. Aces, however, continue on their downward spiral in the PSL.
MP Black Aces (0) 0
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1 (Mokoena 26’)
Aces: Ramogoadi - October, Monyani (Mbatha 46’), Musasa, Lekgothoane – Itshegetseng (Nobula 46’), Themba, Motha (Machaka 78’), Maleka, Masondo - Mulenga
Sundowns: Baloyi - Mere, Xulu, Mungomeni, Mdledle – Pelembe (Vilakazi 70’), Ncaca, Pattison, L Mokoena (Zothwane 58’) – Mphela (F Mokoena 84’), Khenyeza