Ngcobo brace fires Stars

The men from Free State started the much better side finding some fluidity and structure on a rain soaked pitch that at times looked extremely difficult to play on.

Ea Lla Koto's first chance came as early as the ninth minute when a long ball from Kennedy Mweene was headed onto Siyabonga Mdluli running down the left flank.

Mdluli pulled the ball back to find Tshepo Mashego only a couple of yards out from goal but the Usuthu keeper, Kakonje Kalililo, did magnificently stop him from close blank range palming the effort away from danger.

Stars, however, did not have to wait long to find the games opening goal as Sthembiso Ngcobo struck the back of the net in the 14th minute. Another long ball from Mweene was headed down to Ngcobo only 22 yards out from goal; the Free State striker picked his spot and fired the ball home along the ground into the corner of the net giving Kalililo no chance, 1-0.

Ea Lla Koto applied continuous pressure thereafter and grabbed their second goal only four minutes later from an in-swinging corner kick that Jonathan Mensah met with a ferocious header at the front post only six yards out, burying the ball past Kalililo for the second time, 2-0.

Amazulu coach Clive Barker could be seen scampering along the side line and implemented a tactical change just past the half-way mark in the first 45 throwing on Sthembiso Dlamini for Bafo Biyela.

The change almost had immediate effect as the Usuthu manufactured their first attempt on goal in the 33rd minute. An in-swinging corner kick resulted in a goal mouth scramble before Japhet Zwane stung the fingers of Mweene when he fired a powerful shot from only eight yards out. Fortunately enough for the Stars keeper it was straight at him and he managed to palm the ball away.

Free State controlled the first half and should have been more than a couple of goals up before they were made to pay for their missed opportunities in front of goal when Amazulu caught them sleeping at the back in the 44th minute. Petros Zwane drove down the left flank before crossing a dangerous ball into the box across the face of goal that Dumisani Ngwenya met at the back post with a swinging right boot.

Ngwenya struck the ball beautifully putting it between the legs of Mweene, 2-1. Ea Lla Koto started the second half in the dominate manner in which they played through-out the first. They found the kind of rhythm that was uncanny for a side battling relegation near the bottom of the table.

Ngcobo found his side's third goal in the 56th minute with probably one of the best strikes of the 2008/09 season. The Stars striker latched onto a lose ball in the midfield and turned towards goal; he looked up and tired his luck from 35yards out striking the ball superbly with a swing of his right boot, the ball sailed towards the top right corner, struck the underside of the cross and bounced over the goal line, 3-1.

Amazulu pulled a goal back almost immediately in the calmest of ways in the 60th minute when a cross from the right wing was met by Brad Ritson inside the Stars box. Ritson, nonchalantly, finished coolly with his head giving Mweene no chance, 3-2.

Even the celebrations from the Amazulu players seemed casual and indifferent. The rest of the game was bit scrappy and with a struggle for power taking place in the middle of the park. No team managed to assert their dominance and the game ended 3-2. The win for Free State means that they will move away from the relegation struggle, for now, to the delight of their fans.

Courtesy of Backpagepix