AmaZulu down Birds
Posted: 4 March 2009 Time: 17:38
Moroka Swallows’ faint hopes of winning the 2008/09 Absa Premiership were virtually eradicated on Wednesday afternoon, as they went down 1-0 to AmaZulu at the Olympia Park Stadium in Rustenburg.
The goal was scored by substitute Brad Ritson.
The Birds still had an outside chance of catching up with the league’s leaders, particularly as they had two games in hand, but this result has surely put their championship chase to bed for yet another season.
Usuthu, on the other hand, will be delighted with a third successive win and a run of five matches without defeat that has propelled them well into the top half of the table.
AmaZulu had an encouraging start to the match, dominating the opening exchanges and nearly taking the lead through a Myron Shongwe shot in the ninth minute that went just wide of the Swallows goal.
However, the Birds gradually began to assert themselves in the contest, and a stinging 20-yard shot from Lefa Tsutsulupa flew a few inches the wrong side of the upright, while defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele forced Kakonje Kailililo into his first save of the game on 22 minutes.
Usuthu midfielder Ntokozo Sikhakhane, who has been one of the unsung heroes of the KwaZulu-Natal club’s upturn in form recently, let rip with a 20-metre shot just past the half hour mark but the effort failed to find the target.
Ten minutes before the break Tsutsulupa again tried his hand from distance, this time shooting over the crossbar, while Sandile Ndlovu was unable to beat Kalililo with his right-footed effort in the 42nd minute.
The last chance of the first half fell to the Birds’ left-back Sydney Plaatjies, but he was unable to hit the target with his weaker right foot from 12 yards out.
The early stages of the second half saw very few scoring opportunities from either side, and the spectators at Olympia Park had to wait until the 61st minute for a bit of goalmouth action, as David Radebe’s goal-bound shot was denied by the legs of Kalililo.
The hosts began to create a number of opportunities for themselves, with Kagsio Denge twice having enough time and space to line up a shot from just outside the penalty area – though he failed to score on either occasion – before substitute Shaun Haschick fired the ball just wide on 71 minutes.
However, it was AmaZulu who finally broke the deadlock on 75 minutes when Brad Ritson got on the end of Jan Sillo’s cross and headed beyond Tyron Damons in the Swallows goal to put his team 1-0 up.
On 82 minutes Dumisani Ngwenya could have made it 2-0 when he rose highest to meet Japhet Zwane’s corner kick, but the lanky striker wasn’t able to direct his header on target.
Usuthu had a few nervy moments as Swallows threw men forward in search of an equaliser late in the game, but on the whole they held out fairly comfortably and will be delighted with the three points.
The result sees AmaZulu move up, temporarily at least, to sixth on 34 points. Swallows stay in seventh on 32 points.