Leopards end Ajax's promotion dream

Premiership

Black Leopards retained their top flight status with a 2-0 win over Ajax Cape Town in their penultimate play-off clash on Friday afternoon.

Ajax welcomed back Isaac Nhlapo in defence and handed youngster Dale Wakefield his first start as Leopards came unchanged.

Following a nervy opening spell, Lidoda Duvha broke the deadlock on 14 minutes after Isaac Masia beat Eleazar Rodgers to a near post corner to head in off the far post.

Ajax looked to cancel out Masia’s finish following the midway quarter, but were unable to penetrate the visiting side’s defensive block with Rodgers on the back of a hat-trick not seeing the ball.

The Urban Warriors could’ve gone level in the latter minutes of the half after a thread of combination passes in and around the area released Wakefield, who skied from close-range.

Ajax looked energised minutes after halftime as two thumping shots in succession from Chumani Butsaka stinged the gloves of Leopards goalkeeper King Ndlovu.

The away outfit attempted to open up the hosts through the counterattack moments thereafter, but the finishing touch coupled with stray passes towards the final third jeopardised their chances.

In a bid to strengthen their momentum, Ajax coach Calvin Marlin introduced a double substitution in the 62nd minute as Thabo Mosadi and Kegan Johannes entered.

Ajax succumbed to Lidoda Duvha’s fast-paced counterattacking play in the last ten minutes after Mwape Musonda tucked home Tiklas Thutlwa’s cross-field ball following a one-touch move.

Johannes missed a promising chance after sending a near post free-kick onto the outside post, while Ndlovu denied Thendo Mukumela from close-range later on, as Lidoda Duvha were able to just ran down the clock to reaffirm their spot in the elite league next season.

Starting line-ups:

Ajax: Hengelman, Mukumela, Stander, Nhlapho, Sibande, Mkhize, Khaya, Margeman, Wakefield, Butsaka, Rodgers.

Subs: Johnson, Mahamutsa, Johannes, Velebayi, Mfecane, Kabwe, Mosadi, Koopstadt, Bakx.

Leopards: K. Ndlovu, Mudau, Zulu, Masia, Ndou, Abubakar, Ng'ambi, Thutlwa, Matlaba, Makgetlwa, Musonda.

Subs: Mendes, Ndawonde, Douhadji, Modiba, X. Ndlovu, Mashoene, Mokoena, T. Ndlovu, Khutlang.

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