Nomvethe stars for Birds
Siyabonga Nomvethe (Gallo)
Johannesburg - It was tough, torrid and with a touch of desperation from both teams as Moroka Swallows beat Maritzburg United 1-0 in a bruising PSL game at Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday night.
In the process, the 15th-placed Birds kept their hopes of survival in the Premier League alive by edging out the team who are placed immediately above them in the log - although Maritzburg still have a four-point advantage over Swallows.
With Black Aces firmly entrenched in bottom place and facing the stark prospect of automatic relegation, Swallows and Maritzburg are hell-bent on avoiding the second-bottom position which leaves the team in 15th position involved in a tricky play-off with three teams from the First Division for one place in next season's Premier League.
And with survival the stark motivation urging both teams on to greater effort, it was Swallows in the more precarious position who played with more resolution and came away with three deserved points in a match in which six points were effectively at stake in the circumstances.
And while Swallows' victory was achieved via a fifth minute penalty goal from Siyabonga Nomvethe, the evergreen former Bafana Bafana forager might have made victory a lot easier for his team had he not shot wide from a second penalty kick in the 35th minute.
United staged a determined rearguard action until the end and were only thwarted on several occasions by timely saves from Nigerian international goalkeeper Greg Etafia.
One of the busiest men on the pitch was the referee, who handed out six yellow cards in the first half alone when Swallows committed 16 infringements and Maritzburg eight.
And Swallows' lifesaver was achieved without this week's major signing of Bafana strongman midfielder MacBeth Sibaya, who was not deemed fit enough to make his debut.