Johannesburg - Moroka Swallows’ top eight ambitions received a major boost as they beat Free State Stars 1-0 in their Absa Premiership match played at Dobsonville Stadium on Friday.
Both teams had to do without their stalwarts, Swallows missing midfield kingpin Lerato Chabangu through injury while Stars were without skipper Kennedy Mweene who went down with with flu.
The match’s first chance fell to Katlego Mashego who was allowed some space for a shot at goal but his effort lacked some venom, allowing Stars goalkeeper Tshepo Motsoeneng to easily collect the ball.
VIDEO: PSL - Moroka Swallows v Free State Stars, highlights
Bennett Chenene should have done better in the 16th minute as he found himself unmarked just outside the box. The speedy winger opted to take a shot at goal when he had options to lay a pass forward and his attempt flew wide.
Swallows lacked some bite in the middle of the park without Chabangu and his absence was quite visible as no one controlled the midfield for the Birds as the Bafana Bafana man usually does.
Ea Lla Koto’s first chance of the match came in the 18th minute, Chenene hacked down Lehlohonolo Thebekang and Dove Wome rifled the resultant freekick over the cross bar.
Chenene should have given Swallows the lead in the 30th minute as he found himself with space for a shot inside the box but he took one touch too many, allowing the Stars defence to recover and clear the danger.
Chenene redeemed himself from the earlier mistake as he took advantage of the Stars defence’s lapse of concentration to give the Birds the lead in the 33rd minute.
Swallows were awarded a free kick after Angelo Kerspuy fouled Lefa Tsutsulupa. While Stars were organising themselves defensively the Birds played it quick and Mashego laid it for Chenene whose powerful shot beat Motsoeneg all systems out.
In the 40th minute, Stars had a chance to level matters as Paulus Masehe’s corner kick fell to the unmarked Luyolo Nomandela who disappointingly took a tame shot straight to goalkeeper Greg Etafia’s hands.
In the second half, Stars came back a much more rejuvenated side and should have found an equaliser in the 47th minute but Masehe headed Wome’s inswinging freekick wide off Etafia’s goal.
Swallows could have doubled their lead in injury time. David Mathebula played a great pass to Dikgang Mabalane who wasted no time crossing the ball for Oscar Machapa who should have done better as he headed the ball wide with Motsoeneng off his line.
The win sees Swallows move to 28 points -- the same as SuperSport United and Maritzburg United who are seventh and eighth respectively on the log. Sapa