Bloemfontein - Free
State Stars earned three priceless Absa Premiership points as they saw off
top-three hopefuls Bidvest Wits 1-0 at Goble Park on Wednesday, despite
playing virtually the entire second half with only 10 men.
The Students created the first chance of the game after just two
minutes but Thulani Hlatshwayo fired wide of the mark, and although
Sandile Zuke was able to find target with his effort a few minutes
later, he could only shoot straight at Daouda Diakite.
It was then Ea Lla Koto's turn to threaten, with Robert Sankara
sending a header just over the crossbar from Hendrik Somaeb's delivery,
although Wits hit straight back but again Zuke was denied by the
goalkeeper, this time from a free-kick.
Diakite was already enduring a busy evening and was twice called into
action in quick succession to safely hold on to an effort from Henrico
Botes and another from Buhle Mkhwanazi.
Stars then almost took the lead against the run of play midway
through the first half but Camaldine Abraw contrived to drag his shot
wide of the post, while Somaeb's effort a few moments later was thwarted
by Moeneeb Josephs in the Wits goal.
The hosts then left themselves with a mountain to climb just moments
after the restart as Paulos Masehe received a straight red card for a
rash challenge on Zuke, and Botes almost took advantage on the hour mark
but could only fire straight at Diakite.
However, it would be the Clever Boys who were left shell-shocked as
Stars took the lead with 15 minutes remaining, Somaeb providing the ball
for Makhehlene Makhaula, who smartly slotted the ball past Josephs and
into the back of the net.
Wits pushed frantically for an equaliser in the closing stages but
seemed to run out of ideas, with Diakite, undoubtedly Free State Stars'
man of the match, able to somehow see out his clean sheet intact.