Johannesburg – Platinum Stars climbed to second in the Premiership standings – level on points with table-topping Orlando Pirates on 37 points – courtesy of a 3-0 win over Ajax Cape Town at a sweltering Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng, near Rustenburg on Saturday afternoon.
Coach Cavin Johnson's side, looking in devastating form, grabbed all three points through goals from Patrick Malokase, Mogakolodi Ngele and Thuso Phala, en route to recording their eighth win from nine matches on home turf.
Stars began the year on the front foot with a 2-0 home victory over Bloemfontein Celtic in a midweek fixture, to keep pace with the leaders at the top of the log, while Ajax were held to a 1-1
draw against Moroka Swallows in Cape Town, also in midweek.
The hosts got off to an excellent start when they took the lead in only the seventh minute of the encounter.
A quick counter-attacking movement led by goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane found Malokase, who headed the ball down to teammate Ngele, who had his long-range left-footed effort parried away by Ajax keeper Sean Roberts, but straight at Malokase, with the striker slotting home at the far post, past Roberts who was well beaten.
Six minutes later, Ajax had an opportunity to draw level through Keagan Dolly, who was put through on goal by an accurate through ball, but had his shot saved by Mpontshane from a tight angle, to deny the visitors their opener.
Malokase was in the thick of the action again shortly after when Botes found Bafana Bafana winger Phala, who put in an accurate cross towards the back post, where an unmarked Malokase volleyed, but saw his effort fly high and wide of the target when he should have hit the target.
With pressure mounting on the Urban Warriors, Stars doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time, after Ngele laid a ball off to Phala, who returned an accurate pass to Ngele – deep inside the Ajax half – with only the keeper to beat, which the midfielder did in style, netting his fifth goal of the season.
Dikwena came out after the break and showed no signs of letting up, as Phala continued his good form on the local scene, scoring in the 59th minute to pile on the misery for their visitors.
Ngele was involved once again as the Stars midfield made solid strides in putting Phala through on goal, before the pacey forward put the ball past Roberts, to all but secure the result with more than half-an-hour left to play.
The home side looked content to hold on to their lead by winding down the clock during the last third of the clash, while Ajax pushed for a consolation, but were wasteful in front of goal, heading home empty handed. – Sapa