NELSPRUIT – Baroka FC boosted their relegation hopes while denting SuperSport United’s title ambitions with a 1-0 Absa Premiership victory at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.
The result saw SuperSport miss out on the chance to go top of the league table, while Bakgaga are now just two points away from climbing out of the relegation zone.
United also failed to break Kaizer Chiefs’ record 19-game unbeaten run in the PSL era.
The match came just a couple of days after the Tshwane club gave permission to head coach Stuart Baxter to apply for the Bafana Bafana job.
But while Baxter questioned the attitude of his players afterwards, credit should go to Baroka, who showed they are up for the relegation fight after defending with commitment and providing a real threat on the counter-attack.
SuperSport enjoyed the better of the first-half exchanges, although for the most part, they failed to overly trouble Baroka goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke.
Kingston Nkhatha was lively for Matsatsantsa early on, and had a cross-cum-shot flash across the goal-line, before his 19th minute overhead kick went straight at Masuluke.
Thabo Mnyamane also had an opportunity for the home side, but his attempted lob over an advancing Masuluke was poorly executed.
Bakgaga were to go closest to scoring when a swift counter-attack in the 21st minute saw Mxolisi Kunene running clear on the left, before unleashing a shot that seemed destined for the bottom corner of the net until Reyaad Pieterse made a brilliant diving save.
The only other noteworthy action of the first half saw Jeremy Brockie firing a volley marginally wide of the near post.
Nkhatha had a great chance to put his side ahead five minutes after the restart after going clean through on goal, but he took too many touches and allowed Masuluke to affect the block.
Baroka had been looking dangerous on the break and increasingly employed long-ball tactics to try and turn the home defence.
It was via the direct route that they took the lead, a flick-on resulting in Maboke Matlakala going through on goal before beating Pieterse with a composed finish on 55 minutes.
As much as SuperSport huffed and puffed in trying to find an equaliser, the