Chiefs surge to top spot
Bernard Parker (Backpage)
Johannesburg - A first half Bernard Parker penalty and a well taken Siphiwe Tshabalala strike helped Kaizer Chiefs to a 2-1 (half-time 1-0) victory over Black Leopards in a replay of Saturday's Premiership fixture at the FNB Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Saturday's encounter was re-scheduled for Wednesday after a severe hailstorm, accompanied by lightning, hit the FNB Stadium.
The match started from scratch on Wednesday. Chiefs were leading 2-0 when the tie was called off.
The win puts Chiefs at the top of the table with 10 points, two ahead of Maritzburg United, Free State Stars and the University of Pretoria.
Chiefs started at a furious pace and were in with a chance as early as the second minute, when Kongston Nkatha beat his marker with superb pace and skill and unleashed a shot from a tight angle, but Leopard goalkeeper Ayanda Mtshali made an easy save.
If Nkatha came close, Tefu Mashamaite came even closer when his header from the resulting corner hit the crossbar and bounced out of danger for Leopards.
Chiefs did not have to wait long, as Parker opened the scoring 11 minutes into the tie after George Lebese was poorly tackled from behind by Leopards defender Ernot Dzaga.
Parker made no mistake, smashing his effort into the bottom right of the net past Mtshali, for his sixth goal of the league season.
Amakhosi continued to press, with Tshabalala regularly lining up shots from distance, but failed to trouble Mtshali.
Leopards also had their fair share of chances, the best of the half falling to Thabo Mongalo, who drilled his right-footed attempt at goal, with Itumeleng Khune making a comfortable save to deny the visitors.
Leopards never looked like letting up and made regular visits into the Chiefs half, with opportunities falling to Mongalo, Raymond Monama, Rodney Ramagalela and Tiyani Mabunda, but none troubled Khune.
Leopards looked threatening when they built play from the middle of the park but lacked the clinical touch in the final third, with shots flying over and wide of their desired targets.
Chiefs made a late drive at goal, with Tshabalala coming close in the final minute of the half with a rocketed attempt which needed a fine diving save by Mtshali to keep the deficit down to one at the break.
Leopards came out of the interval firing, with skipper Nkosiyabo Xakane slamming his shot into Khune's side-netting, coming close, seconds after the break.
The Soweto side answered with a fine run and solid interplay between Parker and Lebese in the 53rd minute, with Parker missing his close-range attempt from inside the area away to the right of goal.
With momentum firmly in the Amakhosi's favour, Tshabalala rounded-off a successful evening after the playmaker applied the finish and beat Mtshali at the far post after Nkatha's shot was initially saved.
Nkatha snapped up his own rebounded attempt and laid-off to Tshabalala who put the ball past the keeper with a neat attempt and doubled his side's lead.
Leopards, however, had the last say as Abbas Amidu unleashed a pinpoint right-footed volley at goal, netting into the top right of Khune's goal with two minutes left on the clock, with the shot-stopper looking on helplessly after a sublime strike.