Leopards, Wits in stalemate

2012-05-08 21:38
Vincent Mabusela and Bradley Ritson (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Black Leopards moved two points clear of the relegation zone at the bottom of the Absa Premiership on Tuesday night after playing to a goalless draw with Bidvest Wits here.
The Limpopo side could yet be overtaken by second-from bottom Santos and forced into the promotion/relegation playoffs, but with just two matches left for both teams Leopards will be confident of retaining their top flight status.
The Clever Boys, despite racking up a 14th successive league match in which they failed to record a win, are now mathematically certain that they will not be relegated. However, their ailing form remains a major concern.
The opening stages of the match saw little in the way of goalmouth action, with both teams struggling to create anything more than mere half chances. Wits looked more comfortable on the ball and they got their attacking players more involved in passing movements than their opponents.
The first real threat on either goal arrived in the 20th minute when Bhongolwethu Jayiya burst into the penalty area and attempted a curler into the top corner, but the ball flashed wide of the goalkeeper’s left-hand post.
That opportunity signalled a sustained spell of pressure from the home side, but they were unable to really test goalkeeper Azwindini Maphaha. Leopards only threatened sporadically, with their best attempt a long range drive from Davie Banda on the half hour mark that swerved wide of the target.
Wits’ Emille Baron took two knocks from late challenges by Kingston Nkhatha (which earned the striker a yellow card) in the dying minutes of the first half, the second of which seemed to injure the goalkeeper’s left ankle. He was replaced at the start of the second half by Energy Murambadoro.
Six minutes after the restart Jayiya forced Maphaha into his first genuine save of the match, with the 'keeper stretching to punch away a goal-bound free kick from the young Wits attacker. It was the first notable effort on target from either team.
Around the hour mark Leopards built up a head of steam and on 63 minutes they tested the substitute goalkeeper with an effort from the edge of the box by Joshua Obaje - Murambadoro proved to be equal to the shot, making a decent save low to his left.
The best chance of the night saw Nkhatha shoot on target from the ‘D’ of the Wits penalty area with just a few minutes of regulation time left, but again Murambadoro denied the Limpopo side with a fine save.


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