Cape Town - Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy could not hide his relief after avoiding a fifth successive defeat with their 1-0 win over Free State Stars on Wednesday.
Taariq Fielies' goal five minutes from time earned the Citizens a valuable three points at Athlone Stadium, which ended their rut that started after the MTN8 final loss.
However, with two of those defeats coming in cup competitions, City can still move to the Absa Premiership summit ahead of Baroka if they beat the current leaders in their next encounter.
"I could feel that rope tightening around my neck, like I was playing hangman," McCarthy said after the game. "But I'm happy with the team's effort. Today the guys showed a lot of grit.
"We had our backs against the wall, and it's not easy trying to play well and win games when you've lost four in a row. Mentally it drains you and frightens the living c**p out of most of the players, me included.
"So it's a massive relief, even more than when I won the biggest awards in my playing career. The six games we won earlier this season means nothing compared to the feeling I have now after winning this one.
"It's all good when we have fun and joke, but when it comes to matches, that desire has been missing since we lost the MTN8 final. So I wanted that unity and desire back, as the quality is undoubtedly there."