Witbank - A single goal from Vusiwe Masondo was enough to keep Mpumalanga Black Aces’ hopes of surviving relegation alive as they beat AmaZulu 1-0 in an Absa Premiership match at the Puma Rugby Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
It was an action packed start to the first 45 minutes as both teams looked to play free-flowing football and attack from the first whistle.
The home side got the better of the opening exchanges and came close to opening the scoring as early as the third minute.
Joseph Makhanya whipped in an inviting corner-kick and his teammate Fabian McCarthy rose highest to meet it, but his ten-yard header was well saved by AmaZulu’s Mbongeni Mzimela.
After that initial scare the visitors quickly found their footing in the game and created their first chance on goal in the eighth minute, also coming from a set-piece.
Mxolisi Mayonga curled a pin-point corner into the box and it was met by Tangeni Shipahu who should really have scored from six-yards out, but his header skimmed the wrong side of the upright.
With that attempt on goal, Usuthu’s confidence grew and they were able to create another goal scoring opportunity ten minutes later.
AmaZulu’s top goal scorer, Lehlohonolo Majoro, tried his luck from about 25-yards out but his shot went wide of the target.
The match had a nice flow to it as the play moved from end to end. If there was any criticism of the game it was the fact that neither side kept the ball for sustained periods of play.
Still, that did not stop Aces from going in front in the 34th minute. AmaZulu failed to clear a free-kick which was whipped into the box by Marawaan Bantam and after a goal mouth scramble Vusiwe Masondo was able to pounce on the loose ball and fire it home from 12-yards out, 1-0.
AmaZulu tried to hit back immediately but were unable to find a decent goal scoring chance and thus the home side took a 1-0 lead into the half time break.
The second half saw AmaZulu with their backs against the wall as Aces pressed hard for a second goal that would close out the game and they almost found it two minutes after the break. Thabang Rooi rose highest to make a header at a set-piece, but his 12-yard effort went narrowly wide.
Rooi was at the thick of the action again seven minutes later, again out-jumping the competing defenders to get his head to the ball, but again his ten yard effort went just wide of the target.
Following that the chances were few and far in between for both sides. Instead, Aces retreated into their shells a little and seemed content to try and defend their lead. A risky move, but a move that appeared to pay off as AmaZulu were unable to create any danger in attack.
The game finished 1-0 in favour of the home side and with it they keep alive their hopes of staving off relegation, at least for now.
MP Black Aces (1) 1 (Masondo 34’)
AmaZulu (0) 0
Aces: Gindre - McCarthy, Rooi, Makhanya, Mathebula (Khanyile 74’), Bantam, Maleka, Mbatha (Madidilani 46’), Masondo, Henyekane, Shongwe (Ngwenya 57’)
AmaZulu: Mzimela - Kasongo, Zhuwawo, Nyadombo, Shipahu (Hammers 65’), Mokoro (Teyise 45’), Ngxabi, G. Dlamini (Sikhkhane 59’), A Dlamini, Majoro, Mayonga