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So near and yet so far for relegated Highlands Park

PSL

TEMBISA – Highlands Park supporters hurled insults each time referee Victor Hlungwani made a decision which went against their team.

“You are costing us Mr Ref,” one bellowed with frustration, pointing at Hlungwani.

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Franklin Cale and Brandon Theron take it all in after Highlands Park were relegated on Saturday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePixMothobi Mvala, who scored against Sundowns, was unable to hide his disappointment after Highlands Park were relegated. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

“That was an unfair call and you know it,” the other followed.

And that’s because the Lions of the North faithful knew that Baroka FC only needed a draw in their match against Ajax Cape Town on Saturday to survive the automatic chop, to possibly go on to try their luck in the PSL promotional playoffs against the likes of Black Leopards and Stellenbosch FC to fight to stay in the Absa Premiership.

But it was not to be as Highlands drew 2-2 with Mamelodi Sundowns to be relegated.

In the first period, the Baroka handled the pressure of not conceding pretty against Ajax, who were fighting for a top-eight spot, going into the halftime break.

Highlands, on the other hand, failed to produce a similar type of performance against the Chloorkop outfit.

They conceded two goals going into halftime against a side which hammered them 5-0 in the first round late last year.

A win for Sundowns in this encounter meant that they would secure their place in next year’s Caf Champions League by finishing second on the league standings, that being Masandawana’s fourth consecutive appearance. And they did that with sheer class and style.

Themba Zwane was the first one to register his name on to the score-sheet after producing a beauty of a curled short to beat Tapuwa Kapini between the sticks.

Highlands Park officials show their disappointment at Makhulong Stadium. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix


Thabo Nthethe then followed. The highly experienced centre back sent Kapini in the opposite direction with a well-taken penalty just two minutes before the break.

Kapini had made an untimely tackle when he rushed off his line to block Yannick Zakri, who was surging forward towards goal unmarked. His careless decision cost his side dearly.

Seun Ledwaba pulled one back to give his side a fighting chance before the break.

But that goal was not enough as Baroka went on to score in the second half in their match against Ajax, exerting more pressure on the Tembisa outfit, who had no fight in them to push for a much-needed win.

Mothobi Mvala scored a late equaliser, but that was not enough to save Highlands Park from the chop.

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