Leopards avoid the drop
Tiyani Mabunda (Gallo Images)
Rustenberg - Black Leopards did well to book their spot in next season’s Absa Premiership when they beat Ajax 3-1 at the Peter Makoba Stadium, sending Santos into the relegation play-offs.
Ajax knew that nothing less than a victory would help them finish in the top eight and a win over Black Leopards could held Santos avoid the relegation players should the People’s Team win too.
But it wasn’t the most promising of starts for the Urban Warriors when they conceded early in the game from a Kingston Nkhatha eighth-minute goal. The striker headed home a Mongezi Bobe cross to beat Sander Westerveld at the near post.
There was an unfair challenge on George Maluleka by Mahlatse Maake in the 13th minute of play. Lebogang Manyama produced a strike on goal, from the free-kick, but it went out for a corner, only for Nazeer Allie to hit a shot from close range wide of the upright.
Thato Mokeke was added to the referee’s book in the 21st minute for a foul on a Raymond Monama, while the same happened to Itumeleng Duiker 12 minutes later.
On the 44 Nhanhla Vilakazi was also shown yellow for a foul on Maake, while Losper’s second appearance only lasted 44 minutes as he was replaced by Paul Rusike.
Ajax started the second half just like they did the first, by conceding a goal. Samuel Mabunda headed home a cross off a Maake corner, just five minutes after the restart.
There was no stopping the Lidoda Duvha as they made it 3-0 just four minute later. Maakse sent in a cross off a free-kick, which met Nkosiyabo Xakane’s head and he converted with ease. Poor defending by the goalkeeper who was left exposed.
Nazeer Allie and George Akpabio were replaced by Cecil Lolo and Brent Carelse in the 58th minute, while Thomas Madimba took the place of Maake just six minute later.
Thulani Hlatwayo’s shot off a Brett Evans free-kick was saved by Azwindini Maphaha in the 79th minute, while Manyama netted a consolation goal in the 88th minute 20-yard screamer, leaving Ajax having to contend with a ninth place finish to the season. Ajax (0) 1 (Manyama 86’)
Leopards (1) 3 (Nkhatha 8’, Mabunda 50’, Xakane 54’) Ajax:
Westerveld, Allie (Lolo 58’), Hlatswayo, Mokeke, Evans, Vilakazi, Billiat, Losper (Rusike 44’), Manyama, Maluleka, Akpabio (Lolo 58’) Leopards:
Maphaha, Khoza, Mabusela, Xahane, Maake (Madimba 62’), Bobe, Mabunda (Banda 79’), Duiker, Monama, Dzaga, Nkhatha (Zulu 88’)