The Birds were given a tough game by their first division opponents, but in the end their superior class and experience shone through and they were able to claim their first cup final berth since winning this competition back in 2004, when it was still known as the Absa Cup.
Both teams looked to play positive, attacking football, despite the playing surface being quite firm and bumpy, and it made for an entertaining spectacle.
Swallows dominated the early exchanges, with Mark Haskins and Sandile Ndlovu both missing out on good headed chances within the opening quarter of an hour.
Leopards then began to bare their claws, with Joseph Lekata being particularly bothersome to the Birds’ defence. The Leopards striker forced Greg Etafia into a good save when he headed on target from Mongezi Bobe’s cross.
Midway through the first half the PSL side came within inches of taking the lead. A great pass from Davi Rancan sent Cecil Oersen free down the right channel and the midfielder beat Posnett Omony with his low shot, but the ball rebounded back off the inside of the upright.
The last chance of the first half saw Oersen force Omony into a fine save with a curling free kick that the goal minder must have seen late from behind his defensive wall.
Ten minutes after the restart Oersen and Omony continued their duel. Sydney Plaatjies’s excellent diagonal pass saw Oersen with a clear sight of goal, but Omony did just enough to turn the attacker’s volley away for a corner kick.
Just past the hour mark Leopards’ Bobe almost broke the deadlock with a speculative left footed effort that dipped just too late to find the target, with Etafia seemingly beaten. A few minutes later Chris Netshidzivhe was gifted a good scoring chance but he blazed his shot high and wide.
With just 14 minutes to go, Swallows finally got the goal they had been looking for. A great pass from Lefa Tsutsulupa picked out Oersen on the right of the penalty area, the midfielder got outside his marker and played a ball across the face of goal that was turned home by Alves at the far post.
The goal had a hint of controversy about it, as Nethsidzivhe had gone down injured in the build up and Leopards defender Peter Mponda made valiant effort to clear the ball off the line, but the match officials were correct in allowing it to stand.
Substitute Ngcepe doubled Swallows’ advantage when he capitalised on a loose ball in the penalty area and easily stabbed the ball home, but Jabu Maluleke ensured the top flight team had a nervy final few minutes when he struck a fine volley into the back of the net just as the clock ticked into injury time.
Moroka Swallows (0) 2 (Alves 76’, Ngcepe 88’)
Black Leopards (0) 1 (Maluleke 90+1’)
Swallows: Etafia, Kobola, Rancan, Da Silva, Plaatjies, Denge, Tsutsulupa, Alves (Mphahlele 90’), Oersen, Haskins (Ngcepe 71’), Ndlovu (Themba 90’)
Leopards: Omony, Moloto (Marobe 82’), Mponda, Lubanzadio, Tshabalala, Bobe, Maluleke, Netshidzivhe, Mapolisa (Mofokeng 83’), Mongalo, Lekata