Ea Lla Koto are unbeaten in the Absa Premiership this year, and with this victory they leapfrog their Cape opponents and move, temporarily at least, into seventh place on the log on 28 points. Santos drop one place to ninth on 27 points.
The Absa Premiership's player of the month for January, Sthembiso Ngcobo, had two early chances for Stars, heading straight at goalkeeper Francis Chansa from Mdluli's cross in the second minute and then shooting wide of goal from 18 yards out.
On 15 minutes Ngcobo again tested out Chansa's reflexes with a good shot, but the DR Congo goal minder parried the ball to safety, and was soon called upon to make a straightforward save from Tebelo Mofokeng's header.
Just past the half hour mark Ea Lla Koto defender James Matola blew a good scoring chance, shooting off target from inside the penalty area, and on 34 minutes Chansa made another good save, this time from Ruben Cloete.
Santos only managed to create their first scoring chances near the end of the first half, and even then they were not particularly threatening, with Kennedy Mweene making easy saves to deny Erwin Isaacs and Bongi Macala.
Ten minutes into the second half the hosts were given something of a headache when Mweene had to be substituted due to injury. The Zambian's place was taken by Simla Mashinini.
With just under 20 minutes of regulation time to play, both sides had needed some good defending to clear away the danger posed first by Mdluli for the hosts and then Isaacs for Santos. In the 75th Ngcobo cut inside from the left and let fly with a powerful shot that flew wide.
Graham King almost caught Stars napping at the back in the 79th minute when he got a quick shot away, but the ball ballooned over the crossbar.
In the 88th Mofokeng missed a great chance that he should have buried, but a minute later Mdluli latched onto Thamane Motaung's cross and finished well to snatch the win for the hosts.
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