Free State Stars Bidvest Wits Telkom Knockout last 16
Posted: 3 October 2015 Time: 15:00
Free State Stars were battered and bruised, but emerged with a 1-0 win against Bidvest Wits in the Telkom Knockout last 16 today.
Danny Venter scored the only goal of the game, but the true hero was Stars goalie Daouda Diakite, who produced a succession of saves to frustrate the Clever Boys.
Wits had two early chances from which they should have claimed the lead. In the opening minute Joaquim Lupeta fired a left-footed shot inches wide of the target, before he provided a perfect cross to pick out Jabu Shongwe, who had a free header but directed his effort wide of the far post.
The visitors continued to look the sharper, more creative team in attack, but they needed goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs to make an excellent save to keep out a Venter free-kick in the 22nd minute.
Yet Josephs’ save was put in the shade four minutes later by Diakite, who made a brilliant one-handed stop to deny Sibusiso Vilakazi when the attacker looked all but certain to open the scoring.
Stars were disjointed in their play in the opening half-hour, but the first-half introduction of Lucky Mohomi in place of Liberty Chakoroma and the subsequent change of shape saw an improvement for the hosts.
Yet Wits remained the more fluid and penetrative side, with Lupeta using his power and pace to great effect in the 48th minute, only to be denied by a brave block from the excellent Diakite.
Gavin Hunt was clearly frustrated by his side’s forwards, and on the hour-mark he replaced both Lupeta and Vilakazi, giving a run to youngster Phamakani Mahlambi and the experienced Calvin Kadi.
The match needed a moment of inspiration to bring it to life and Venter provided it with just under 20 minutes remaining with a long-range stunner which gave Josephs no chance.
Wits continued to push players forward and were almost rewarded in time added-on when Ben Motswari fired inches wide with the goalkeeper stranded.
HOME: Free State Stars
Coach: Ernst Middendorp
AWAY: Bidvest Wits
Coach: Gavin Hunt