Khumalo keeps SuperSport top
SuperSport's Bongani Khumalo (Gallo Images)
Atteridgeville - SuperSport United kept their place at the top of the Absa Premiership table with a hard-fought 1-0 win over relegation bound Bloemfontein Celtic at the Super Stadium on Wednesday night.
Captain Bongani Khumalo headed home the only goal of the game in the 14th minute while Celtic hardly came close to scoring.
The opening stages were tense as neither side wanted to make mistakes or concede early goals. United’s backline watched red-hot striker Gert Schalkwyk closely while Elias Pelembe got special attention from Celtic’s Tumelo Nhlapo.
Schalkwyk chased every ball that came his way but Morgan Gould tracked him thoroughly, however, playing alone upfront the Celtic number 26 could do little. United wingers Daine Klate and Lerato Chabangu looked dangerous every time they got the ball but they did little to test Patrick Tignyemb.
Then SuperSport struck via an assist from Klate. His trademark left-footed free kick was expertly met by skipper Khumalo at the near post and United were on their way to winning the match.
Moses Spandeel and Schalkwyk shot from outside the box but their efforts were easily collected by keeper Denis Onyango.
Three minutes into the second half and Glen Salmon saw Tignyemb off his line and nearly doubled the score with a deft chip but the keeper threw himself back to deny the veteran striker.
Pelembe also tested the Cameroonian with a low drive from outside the box but he smothered the ball.
The visitors were struggling to get forward while SuperSport eased forward on the counter-attack. In one such move, Salmon could have scored but unselfishly laid off the ball for Chabangu whose shot was blocked.
Fikru Lemasse replaced Salmon on the hour mark and almost immediately made an impact. The Ethiopian striker broke down the right and picked out Pelembe but Tignyemb intercepted the ball to the dismay of the excited home fans.
Tignyemb produced another fine save when Chabangu whipped in a free kick which defender Gould glanced towards goal only for the keeper to make a telling save. The former Mamelodi Sundowns star then set up Lemasse for goal after a neat one-two but the latter’s scorching shot went inches wide.
Celtic got a rare scoring chance four minutes from fulltime but Schalkwyk was narrowly offside and his cool finish was disallowed and this summed up their night. With no penetration in attack or much luck, Celtic stay in the relegation zone while the defending league champs SuperSport remain on top.