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Durban – A late penalty from Thanduyise Khuboni helped struggling Golden Arrows clinch all three points after a battling 1-0 victory over Free State Stars in their league encounter in Umlazi, outside Durban, on Saturday.
The match appeared destined for a draw after Musa Bilankulu squandered a host of chances in either half, before Abafana Bes’thende clinched a late penalty when Daniel Cardoso brought down substitute Tshepo Liphoko in the box two minutes from the end.
Captain Khuboni sent Kennedy Mweene the wrong way as Arrows drew clear of the relegation zone, while the Free State side remained in fourth place in the Absa Premiership standings.
The hosts carved out clearer openings early on, and there were two chances for Bilankulu within the first seven minutes, the first of which he blazed over from the edge of the area.
The big defender, playing in an advanced midfield role, should have buried his second opening, a free header from close range after superb work and a cross by Mzivukile Tom bursting down the left.
The hosts continued to threaten going forward and when Thamsanqa Gabuza was shoved just outside the box, Jabulani Nene curled the subsequent free-kick narrowly over.
At the other end, the visiting attack was battling to get going, despite Luyolo Nomandela posing a constant threat down the left.
The Stars winger finally managed to breach the home defence midway through the first half, but Nkosingiphile Gumede rushed off his line, before sticking out his hand to save the shot.
Togolese international Dove Wome then tried his luck from distance, but the Arrows goalkeeper was alert to the danger despite initially fumbling the strike.
Wome was again in with a chance after a Danny Venter flick-on, but his effort was easily held by Gumede.
Arrows still looked dangerous on attack, but Bilankulu mis-timed a shot and Sibusiso Hadebe wasted a free-kick within the space of five minutes before the interval.
Straight after the restart, Manqoba Mngqithi’s men should have taken the lead when Bonginkosi Ntuli found space on the right and crossed onto the head of Bilankulu, who again headed wide.
Seconds later Nene’s ambitious long-range strike dipped over, much to the frustration of the small home crowd.
After a dull period, a set-piece from Venter was curled over from wide on the right, with the same player then thwarted by an onrushing Gumede after collecting a skewed pass on the left.
With time running out, Wome shot wide, before Khoboni claimed the winner. – Sapa