Durban - Goals in each half from Dillon Sheppard and Thamsanqa Gabuza helped Golden Arrows steer further clear of the Premiership relegation zone with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Free State Stars at the Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu on Saturday.
Winger Sheppard intricately curled in after 41 minutes, while substitute striker Gabuza added a 62nd minute goal from close-range as Abafana Bes’thende climbed two places to 10th on the log.
It was also their fifth match unbeaten in the league and a result that put a huge dent in the visitors’ title hopes, leaving them five points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, having played one more game.
Arrows started brightly and were almost ahead inside the opening two minutes seconds when Sibusiso Hadebe whipped in excellently from the left and Siyabonga Nkosi headed centimetres over.
Moments later Collins Mbesuma spun away from his man outside the box, but sent a driving shot well over.
The visitors had to wait until the 10th minute for their first opening which came after Saname Wome pulled away to the left and shot with his left foot across the face of goal.
Nkosi then had another fine chance for the hosts after the ball was threaded through to him by Mbesuma on the left side of the box, but the shot was closed down by Kennedy Mweene.
The game went into a bit of a lull, with Arrows limited to long-range strikes as Elrio van Heerden, Clifford Ngobeni and Nkosi all struck wide from distance.
Moments before the break, Sheppard brought the partisan home crowd to their feet when he spun his marker Rudiger Gilbert and cut into the box on the left, before exquisitely curling into the top right corner.
That gave Muhsin Ertugral’s the lead at the break and, after a slow start to the second half, they then doubled the advantage just past the hour mark when replacement Gabuza controlled Thamsanqa Mkhize’s right-side cross expertly at his feet, before drilling in powerfully from close range.
Stars tried desperately to get back into the game by throwing numbers forward, but they were constantly thwarted by a solid home defence and eventually slipped to a second loss in three games.