Johannesburg – Free State Stars delivered when it mattered most, beating Moroka Swallows 3-0 at the Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday afternoon to secure their top flight status for another season.
Ea Lla Koto had gone into the weekend in second last position on the PSL table, which meant they were in danger of being forced into the promotion-relegation play-offs later this month.
But a gutsy second half showing from the Free State side, together with Polokwane City's 4-2 loss to SuperSport United up in Pretoria meant it is the Limpopo side that will now be forced to play for their survival via the play-offs.
The first half was a lively affair, with plenty of action at both ends of the field. Swallows started brightly with an early Felix Obada chance, but the Nigerian went wide with his first minute shot.
Stars came alive as the match moved past the 10 minute mark, creating a couple of chances, but striker Richard Henyekane did not have his scoring boots with him as he fired wide of goal before having his effort on the half hour mark saved by Greg Etafia.
Birds front man Tshwarelo Bereng was also guilty of missing a couple of opportunities as he went wide with two consecutive chances around seven minutes before the break, Swallows ending the half the stronger side after Siyabonga Nomvethe also got in an effort on goal before the break.
The visiting side made a couple of half-time changes and the substitutes were soon involved as Danny Venter forced Birds keeper Greg Etafia into a couple of early second half saves.
Swallows though also had their chances, but again the likes of Nomvethe and Obada failed to deliver in front of goal.
With the game going into the final 20 minutes, Stars were desperate for a goal.
Enter Adam Abdul-Basit, who had only been on the field for 25 minutes after coming on at half time. The Ghanaian struck twice in two minutes, first converting a free kick from Venter in the 72nd minute before firing home from Nomvethe's cross soon after.
It got even better for Stars four minutes later when Lehlohonolo Thebakang stooped in with a header after Etafia had failed to deal adequately with Venter's shot. – Sapa