CAPE TOWN – TS Galaxy came from behind at the Athlone Stadium on Wednesday night to beat Cape Umoya United 2-1 in an all-National First Division (NFD) Nedbank Cup quarterfinal clash.
The visitors, who became the first team in three years from the NFD to make it to the semifinals, had been very much second best for the first hour of the game.
But after Zakhele Lepasa's 42nd minute penalty had cancelled out Katlego Otladisa's 15th minute opener, former Cape Town All Stars midfielder Sizwe Mdlinzo struck with an 88th minute winner on his old stomping ground.
The Cape side made all the running in the first half, and after a bright start, they took the lead when Brandon Theron's pin-point cross picked out an unmarked Otladisa, who headed home from six yards out.
Umoya could have added a second soon after when Otladisa played a dangerous square ball across the goal-mouth, but Gavin Hammers arrived just too late to make any contact.
Hammers squandered an even better opportunity on the half hour mark when having done the hard work to dispossess Galaxy keeper Ludwe Mpakumpaku outside the box, he elected to pass rather than shoot at an open goal. The hosts did end up getting a free kick 20-yards out, but Eric Chipeta curled his effort narrowly wide of the upright.
Malesela's men had spent nearly the entire first half defending, and it was from their first real threat on the Umoya goal that they earned themselves a penalty shortly before the interval after Ntshuxeko Ndlovu’s shot struck defender Roscoe Pietersen on the arm.
With only a couple of metres separating the two players it was perhaps a rather harsh call, and the hosts' unhappiness was compounded when Lepasa's penalty flew into the net despite goalkeeper Dino Visser getting a touch.
Dominic Isaacs, the former Ajax Cape Town and Kaizer Chiefs defender, now in charge at Umoya, saw his team starting the second half with purpose as Sipho Senne shot wide from a tight angle before Mpakumpaku tipped a powerful free kick from Yusuf Maart over the bar.
However, as the hour mark approached, the Mpumalanga outfit began to play with more confidence and they should have been ahead when Snethemba Ngidi teed up Lepasa, but from just 12-yards out he skied his shot over the crossbar.
More chances followed for Galaxy and Visser did well to keep out a low shot from Ngidi before pulling off a brilliant reflex save in the 75th minute to tip Zairon Abrahams’s rising drive over the bar.
As the game moved into the final 15 minutes, there was little to choose between the teams, a winner looking possible at either end.
It was the visitors though who were to seize the moment when Terrence Mashego hoisted a long cross into the box, and when the defence failed to clear the ball, Mdlinzo stole in to volley the ball off his knee and into the net.
Galaxy had some anxious late moments as Umoya had two penalty appeals turned down before Pietersen had a good chance with a header, but directed it straight at Mpakumpaku.
The remaining fixtures see Bloemfontein Celtic hosting Golden Arrows on Saturday afternoon, with Bidvest Wits welcoming Chippa United to Johanensburg later that evening. Kaizer Chiefs take on Cape Town City at the Mbombela Stadium on Sunday.
African News Agency (ANA)