Cape Town – Ajax Cape Town's hopes of securing a top eight finish to this season's Premiership campaign took another serious blow when they went down 2-0 to Mpumalanga Black Aces at the Athlone Stadium on Friday night.
The hosts looked disjointed for most of the game, struggling to find fluency or any sort of potency in their attacks.
Aces got off to a perfect start, going ahead after just one minute when Thabo Qalinge squared the ball for Tendai Ndoro, who held off the his marker before picking out the bottom corner for a clinically taken goal.
Ajax's first chance came seven minutes later and saw Eleazar Rodgers heading the ball over the bar.
The game remained tightly balanced, although it was AmaZayoni who were playing the better football, passing the ball around nicely, while Ajax looked to go the more direct route.
There were half chances for the home side but Aidan Jenniker failed to get any power on his shot, while Rodgers' effort was deflected wide of goal.
Just after the half hour mark and Abia Nale had a chance for Aces, but his effort was well dealt with by home keeper Anssi Jaakkola.
Going into added time and AmaZayoni looked set to double their lead when Abia Nale played in Onyekachi Okonkwo, who hit his strike well, only to see Urban Warriors keeper Jaakkola making a remarkable save with his feet.
There was little change to the balance of play after the restart as Ajax continued to look flat and out of ideas up front, leading coach Roger De Sa to make a double change as he brought on Simbarashe Sithole and Toriq Losper.
But again it was the Mpumalanga side who looked more threatening in attack, with Jaakkola doing well to keep out Ndoro's angled drive on the hour mark.
Ajax finally begun to make some headway into their opponents' half as the game moved into the final quarter and the hosts were close to an equaliser when Losper played in Sithole with a cross, the Zimbabwean's header flashing inches over the bar.
It was AmaZayoni however who were to add to the score-line, Ndoro tapping home in the 79th minute from close range after a swift counter-attack had seen three Aces players bearing down on goal, with only Dominic Isaacs back to defend for the home team.
Clive Barker's side were able to play out the remainder of the game without any issues, the result sending Aces up to fifth spot on the table. – Sapa