POLOKWANE – A late goal at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday afternoon earned Baroka FC a 1-0 win over AmaZulu and an invaluable three points.
In a game that could have gone either way, a brilliantly-taken effort in the 84th minute by Tshidiso Patjie earned the Limpopo side victory, and might just be the goal which keeps them up in the Premiership for another season.
The Durban team had made a positive start to the game and were close to scoring in the 10th minute when Marc van Heerden's free kick flew just over the bar.
Baroka's first attempt came on 20 minutes when Bonginkosi Makume was given space outside the box to take a shot, which flew narrowly past the base of the left hand upright.
Both sides were, however, struggling to come up with clearcut chances in a tightly-contested first stanza and the only other real goalmouth action before the interval arrived when Mduduzi Mdatsane went through on goal in the 39th minute, but Usuthu keeper Siyabonga Mbatha did superbly to rush off his line and make a point blank save.
There was little change to the complexion of the match after the restart as the two teams remained evenly-matched, both looking for openings but just not able to find the final touch in front of goal.
AmaZulu did create a great chance just before the hour mark when Talent Chawapiwa played in a teasing cross, but Bonginkosi Ntuli misjudged his jump badly and barely made contact with a headed attempt.
It was then Baroka's turn to threaten the opposition goal and it took another brilliant reflex save from Mbatha, using his foot, to keep out Onkabetse Makgantai in the 70th minute.
The game seemed to be drifting towards a goalless stalemate, but with six minutes to go Tshidiso Patjie went on a storming run, beating Mbatha to the ball on the edge of the area and nodding it past the goalkeeper before slotting in from a tight angle.
Usuthu were unable to muster any real chances for an equaliser as the hosts did well to play out the final minutes for the win.
African News Agency (ANA)