Wits progress to last 16
Johannesburg - A second-half strike from Sifiso Vilakazi helped Bidvest Wits advance to the Last 16 stage of soccer's Nedbank Cup, beating Moroka Swallows 1-0 in Dobsonville on Friday night.
Vilakazi's winner for the 2010 champions came after 62 minutes, with the forward calmly slotting a rebound after Miguel Timm forced a save from Greg Etafia in the Swallows goal.
This was a positive result for the Clever Boys, who have been depleted due to a number of crucial injuries including midfielder Thando Mngomeni and top striker Ryan Chapman.
Swallows, the 2009 winners, dominated the early parts of the match but were below par for the rest of the evening.
They failed to seize on some of the scoring opportunities, and lost momentum in the second 45 minutes.
The Birds created the first chances at goal as Wits goalkeeper Emile Baron stopped David Mathebula at close range in the 11th minute.
Wits' first chance came from striker Bhongolwethu Jayiya five minutes later, but his strike was easily collected by Etafia.
Bennett Chenene came close to scoring the opener for the hosts shortly before the interval with a spectacular bicycle kick that sailed narrowly past the goal.
After a quiet start to the second-half, the match came to life as Wits pressed forward.
Sibusiso Vilakazi forced a save from Etafia before the visitors took the crucial lead.
Swallows were forced to surge forward in search of an equaliser with midfielder Georgi Nergadze drawing a save from Baron moments later.
The hosts had a penalty call seconds later as Mbulelo Mabizela handled in the box, but referee Victor Gomes turned the call down as a Swallows player had been offside.
Wits came close to extending their lead in the 68th minute with Timm shooting straight at Etafia.
Swallows went on the counter-attack with Mathebula fashioning a shot outside the penalty area that went narrowly wide of goal.
There was a moment of panic in the final minutes as Gomes gave Wits' Mabizela a red card, but later overturned the decision.
The match official thought Mabizela had already been booked, and instead gave the former Bafana Bafana captain a yellow card.
Wits' youngsters, however, held on like seasoned professionals for a deserved away victory and a place in the next round of the cup.