Johannesburg - Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter says winning league games which appear destined for a draw could prove the different between winning the Premiership and finishing runners-up.
Mandla Masango's late winner was enough to secure maximum points for Baxter and his team against a resolute Bloemfontein Celtic, when a draw looked on the cards with less than 15 minutes to play.
“Getting a win instead of walking off with a draw tonight (counts) at the end of the season,” Baxter said after the game at FNB Stadium on Tuesday night.
“It’s a very important win and I don’t think it was undeserved. We pressed hard enough in the second half and we moved the ball quick enough to get out of the pressure.
“We took a risk but we think it’s important that, at home, we do take those risks because we know at the end of the season those are the points that may win it.”
The Glamour Boys were made to battle it out at home for a result which sent them to the summit of the league standings with nine points, and a 100 percent record from their opening three fixtures.
“A very scrappy affair from our point-of-view. The first 20 minutes were painful,” Baxter said.
“We just weren’t brave enough. And what happened was that our attacking play was very sporadic. Bloem were always a threat - they played good possession football and threatened us at times on the counter-attack.”
With the fixtures already piling up for Amakhosi, who have an MTN8 second-leg semi-final to contest over the weekend, Baxter said games that were not easy on the eye made the team understand the importance of scrapping for a win when it mattered.
“It’s a good game to win for us because you don’t always play fantastic football. It wasn’t a fluid performance but I thought we did enough in the second half to warrant nicking it,” he said.
“Of course I’m pleased with the three points. If we had lost this game tonight and then won on Sunday, it wouldn’t have made up for the defeat tonight.”
Having spoken at length after every Chiefs game about Masango’s superb form so far this season, Baxter admitted he was on the verge of taking the nippy winger off, but was delighted he had resisted the temptation.
“I was just contemplating actually taking Mandla off because I thought he had disappeared out of the game. He was working very hard but not affecting the game.
"Then he just started to show that he was getting on the ball in better areas so I left him on for another five minutes and he scored.”