Cape Town — Billed as the 'Battle of the Basement' the Swallows v TS Galaxy DStv Premiership clash ended in a dogfight as the teams fought for their lives at the Dobsonville Stadium, Soweto, on Saturday evening.
In the end, 10-man Galaxy prevailed 1-0. With this victory, they lifted themselves off the bottom of the log with a 3-point push to move from 16th to 14th place. Swallows dropped one place into 15th position, and now the log is propped up by Baroka FC.
Swallows' winless run in the league has now extended to six matches, and with the end of the season in sight, the relegation axe looms large.
Both teams adopted a cautious approach at the outset and were patient in build-up work as they probed defences. Galaxy managed their work way past the opposition midfield, but they lost their way in the final third.
Swallows traded heavily on a one- and two-touch short passing game, which helped take play up to the opposition goalmouth. However, inevitably the move broke down mainly because of over-elaboration.
In effect, both sides, in their eagerness to play constructively, tried to play too much football when a more direct approach may have yielded an early reward.
Around the half-hour mark, Galaxy came close to scoring after a raid down the right flank, but they were blown up for offside by Akhona Makalima, the only female referee in the DStv Premiership.
It was, however, a cue that score was imminent, and moments later, Galaxy attacked down the opposite flank with telling effect.
Galaxy Midfielder Lindokuhle Mbatha proved too pacey for opposition defenders. He pulled out at least three Swallows players en route to the penalty area before he laid on an angled feed into unguarded territory. Nigerian Augustine Kwem, one of several Galaxy players ranging up in support in front of the Swallows, side-footed the ball into the goals in the 34th minute (1-0).
By the time the first half came to an end, Galaxy managed to contain Swallows fightback, and on the balance of play, given their slight territorial advantage, just about deserved to be ahead.
Swallows showed a far greater sense of urgency when the second-half play started. . They managed to pin Galaxy down in their half. Just ahead of the hour mark, they enjoyed two scoring chances, but these went begging.
Swallows' high press meant Galaxy were forced to settle to a defensive role for an extended period. On occasions, Galaxy broke out to stage counter-attacks which Swallows battled to contain. Ten minutes from the end, Galaxy spurned a gilt-edged chance to score.
While Swallows managed to exert relentless pressure, Galaxy defender Ebrahim Seedat was red-carded in the 71st minute.
Galaxy held out for their first away league win and third clean sheet this season.