A late Tendai Ndoro strike helped Highlands Park edge Bloemfontein Celtic 1-0 at the Makhulong Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Ndoro’s 86th-minute goal could have huge financial implications after his strike saw the Lions of the North defeat the travelling Celtic side.
The win moves Highlands Park past Siwelele on the table as the race for the lucrative top-eight battle goes down to the wire.
Mothobi Mvala was one of four players recalled to the Highlands’ starting line-up against a Celtic side that could count on a returning Tshegofatso Mabasa for attacking spark.
Goal-poacher Ndumiso Mabena, usually so adept at finishing for the visitors, was guilty of squandering a decent first-half chance which seemed to nudge Highlands up a level.
Peter Shalulile and Mvala then wasted chances to send the hosts in front as the halftime whistle came with neither side able to burst the net.
Owen da Gama was then left fuming as influential midfielder Mvala was sent for an early shower in the 71st minute for a second bookable offence.
The coach’s wrath may not materialise as Ndoro then showed his class and composure with a late strike that decided the contest.
* Maritzburg United showed great character at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday to earn a 3-1 win over SuperSport United to keep their hopes of avoiding relegation alive.
After the hosts took an early lead through Mohau Mokate, Aubrey Modiba levelled the match for SuperSport just after halftime, before Judas Moseamedi came off the bench to score two late goals.
Mokate headed in a Fortune Makaringe cross with only three minutes on the clock.
Their tails up, Maritzburg went looking for another goal and a series of chances followed, although the score-line remained unchanged as SuperSport keeper Ronwen Williams did brilliantly to save Siphesihle Ndlovu’s top-corner-bound shot, before keeping out an effort from Makaringe as well.
When Williams fumbled a cross, Yannick Zakri should have made it 2-0, but instead curled the ball over an unguarded goal.
Zakri was guilty of another bad miss just a minute later when he found himself one-on-one with Williams just 10 yards out but shot straight at the goalkeeper.
After the hosts squandered another opportunity when Brian Onyango sent a header over the bar, SuperSport sounded a warning just before the interval when Bradley Grobler turned sharply and fired just past the post.
Maritzburg’s failure to add to their tally was to come back to bite them just a minute after the restart as Mxolisi Macuphu cleverly teed up Modiba, whose first time shot from 18-yards flew into the net via the upright.
With 20 minutes to go, coach Eric Tinkler replaced Mokate with Moseamedi, and two minutes later, it paid dividends as the substitute got on the end of a superb cross from Makaringe and planted a powerful header past Williams and into the net.
Maritzburg were able to finally wrap up the win right at the end of the third minute of added time when Man-of-the-Match Makaringe played a delightful through-ball for Moseamedi, who toed the ball past Williams and into the net.
The KZN club remains bottom of the table, but can avoid automatic relegation with a win against Baroka next Saturday.
🗣️ Coach Eric Tinkler— Maritzburg United FC (@MaritzburgUtd) May 4, 2019
"I'm delighted with the win but it doesn't change anything really. We still have to go to Baroka and win. We knew that and I know my players will be highly motivated for that game."#WeBelieve #WeAreUnited #TeamBlue pic.twitter.com/Y8XuiC410o
* AmaZulu and Black Leopards played to a 1-1 draw at the King Zwelithini Stadium.
Leopards showed some enterprising play in the first half, but had to wait until the 69th minute, for Mwape Musonda to convert from a spot-kick after he was fouled in the penalty area.
The goal further enhanced the Zambian’s status as the league’s leading goal-scorer, with 15 strikes this season.
However, just when Leopards thought that they would be returning to the Limpopo province with all three points, AmaZulu’s Sbusiso Mabiliso unleashed a thunderous effort that took a deflection and ended up in the visitors’ net in the 82nd minute.
The match was also the final appearance for 41-year-old Siyabonga Nomvethe, who scored 123 goals during his career which saw him wear the colours of African Warriors, Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows, as well as AmaZulu.
💬 Coach Cavin Johnson— AmaZulu FC (@AmaZuluFootball) May 4, 2019
“The ball just didn’t drop for us in the first-half but we were never going to lose that game. Credit to the players for their fighting spirit and of course to Bhele for coming on and doing so well.”#Usuthu_Unite pic.twitter.com/h5QzmL4H59
While AmaZulu, now on 31 points from 29 games, are assured of top-flight football next season, Leopards’ Premiership status will only be decided during the final round as they occupy second last spot on 27 points from 29 games.
Dylan Kerr’s charges find themselves equal on 27 points with Free State Stars and Chippa United, but poorer in terms of goal average, as they prepare to host high-riding Cape Town City on Saturday.
* Chippa United caused a huge upset by beating Polokwane City 3-1 in Limpopo to keep themselves alive in the relegation battle.
The 13th-placed Chilli Boys’ goals came from Rhulani Manzini, Donashano Malama and Repo Malepe, while Polokwane, who are fifth on the log, replied via Mohammed Anas.
🚨FULL TIME 🚨— Chippa United FC (@ChippaUnitedFC) May 4, 2019
3 Goals, 3 Points 🌶️🔥#AbsaPrem #SSDiski @polokwane_city 1 - 3 @ChippaUnitedFC #ayeyechilliboyzayeye #seasonofrevival #prideoftheeasterncape pic.twitter.com/zlo4Z5KUdo
#AbsaPrem RESULTS:— IOL Sport (@IOLsport) May 4, 2019
AmaZulu 1-1 Black Leopards
Maritzburg United 3-1 SuperSport United
Highlands Park 1-0 Bloemfontein Celtic
Polokwane City 1-3 Chippa United
Kaizer Chiefs 1-1 Free State Stars
Wits 3-1 Baroka FC
African News Agency (ANA)