Butholezwe Ncube scored the winner for AmaZulu against Chippa United. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

PORT ELIZABETH – AmaZulu followed up Tuesday’s league win over Highlands Park with a 1-0 victory over Chippa United at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday night.

The KZN team were on top throughout the first half as they produced some high-intensity and entertaining football, and they scored three minutes before the break through Butholezwe Ncube.

Chippa came back strongly after the interval, but it just wouldn’t fall in front of goal for Eric Tinkler’s side.

The defeat means that Chippa are joined on 10 points on the league table by AmaZulu.

Both clubs are just one point above bottom-of-the-log sides Maritzburg United and Black Leopards, who are set to play Orlando Pirates and Wits respectively on Saturday.

Argentine striker Emiliano Tade was especially lively for the Durban team in the opening stanza, and he had some decent early chances – a half-volley which tested Chippa keeper Daniel Akpeyi at the near post, and a 22nd-minute free kick which flew inches wide.

The visitors continued to play with desire and energy, and after a neat build-up in the 41st minute, Tade was not far off with a rising drive from 25 yards out.

And just a minute later, Usuthu had their breakthrough when Ncube received a pass on the left hand side of the box, before cutting inside and firing home at the near-post.

Chippa began to play themselves back into the match after the halftime interval, and had a sniff at goal in the 55th minute when Ruzaigh Gamaldien burst into the box and went close with an effort from an acute angle.

A storming run by Thabo Rakhale set up Gamaldien for another chance eight minutes later, but AmaZulu keeper Siyabonga Mbatha was able to make a fairly routine save.

Usuthu were, however, able to stem the Chilli Boys attack, and for the next 15 minutes, the game developed into an enthralling, evenly-balanced affair, with both sides showing plenty of effort and industry, although chances on goal proved elusive.

The next opportunity was to fall to the home side in the 82nd minute, when Zitha Macheke blasted a first-time shot over the bar from just 12 yards out, before Gamaldien had a goal ruled offside in what looked like a very tight call.

The Port Elizabeth-based side continued to pile on the pressure in the closing moments, but had no more than a couple of half-chances as Cavin Johnson’s team held on determinedly to make it six points for the week.

African News Agency (ANA)