Phuthaditjhaba - Free State Stars secured their first victory of the Premiership campaign, netting in either half to bag a dominant 2-0 win over Maritzburg United in Phuthaditjhaba on Wednesday evening.
Stars took charge early in the encounter, with a Danny Venter cross finding Themba Tshabalala in the area in the second minute, but Tshabalala directed his header well over the crossbar.
Venter was again involved 10 minutes later when he delivered a free kick, with Togolese international Sadat Ouro-Akoriko connecting as he hit the back of the net to put the hosts ahead.
Midway through the first half, Venter had a direct attempt from a set-piece, after Katlego Mashego was brought down by Michael Morton, but Maritzburg keeper Shu-Aib Walters was able to keep the ball out.
Maritzburg, desperate to find the equaliser, gave away more free kicks, and Venter had two strikes from set-pieces within two minutes, but Walters was again on top of both attempts as he prevented the home side from running away with the match.
The visitors had their first real attempt in the dying stages of the first period, but Dillon Sheppard's effort was parried away by Stars goalminder Daniel Agyei.
The hosts, however, regained control after the interval, with Venter slamming an attempt wide to the left soon after the break.
They stretched the gap with 25 minutes remaining when Adam Abdul-Basit latched on to a pass from Lehlohonolo Thebakang to score the home side's second goal.
Both teams took shots with time running out, but all were wayward as Stars settled for a comfortable win.