Eleazar Rodgers handed Santos their first win in the mini-league Promotional Play-offs as his lone goal saw the People’s Team beat Thanda Royal Zulu 1-0 at the Richards Bay Sport Stadium on Wednesday.
Two enforced changes in the first half by Thanda resulted in the home side unable to find their rhythm until the dying minutes of the half while Santos took full advantage of their opponents’ early set-backs.
Santos definitely started the better of the two teams, but they were helped by a disruption in the midfield of Thanda as Khumbulani Mdluli had to leave the field injured in the seventh minute.
In the 12th minute Salmaan King took full advantage of Thanda’s misfortune when he exploited space down the left flank and drove a low cross into the box.
And who else but the People’s Team’s top goal scorer, Eleazar Rodgers, was hovering on the edge of the six-yard box and duly side-footed the ball home to give Santos the lead, 1-0.
After the goal the visitors continued to dominate matters and their cause was helped in 29th minute when Thanda suffered another injury that resulted in their centre back, Sipho Made, leaving the field.
Six minutes later and that disruption nearly resulted in the games second goal as some slack marking allowed Nasief Morris a free-header from ten-yards out, but his effort struck the left-hand upright.
As the half progressed Thanda did manage to find their footing in the game and came bitterly close to finding the equaliser in the dying seconds of the half.
Peter Nwadike let fly with a powerful 25-yard thunderbolt that went inches wide of the upright with the keeper well beaten.
The second 45 was one completely dominated by the home side, but despite all their possession they couldn’t create a decent chance on goal.
Instead, it was a half characterised by a stubborn Santos defence that kept Thanda at bay time and again.
Santos’ defence was so good that the best chance of the second half only came in the 91st minute for Thanda, but Pa Dembo Touray was on hand diving full stretch to his left, making fingertip save, to deny Itshegetseng Lehumo as the game ended 1-0.
Thanda: Khuzwuayo; Mvalo, Wallis, Made (Xowana 29’), Hendricks, Mdluli (Lehumo 7’), Dlamini (Mthombeni 73’), Thopola, Mthiyane, Nwadike, Sitayitayi
Santos: Touray; Barends, W. Arendse (Mafoko 60’), Morris, Skippers, T. Arendse, Armogam (S. Arendse 63’), Rodgers, Chimodzi, King, Shabangu (Isaacs 54’) – Backpage Txt