JOHANNESBURG – Baroka FC put four points between themselves and the automatic relegation position at the bottom of the Premiership table after edging to a 1-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium on Saturday evening.
Chiefs probably deserved at least a point, and could perhaps even have claimed all three, had they been more clinical in the final third of the field. But with that said, the Glamour Boys were some way off the levels they had reached in last weekend's Nedbank Cup win over Cape Town City.
For relegation-threatened Bakgaga, it was all about the result, and they will be thrilled to return to the Limpopo Province with all three points in the bag, thanks to an outstanding free-kick from Tshidiso Patjie in the 66th minute.
Chiefs dominated first-half possession, but the problem was that they didn't do too much with the ball, their attacks lacking in urgency and conviction, with a result that the opposition goal went largely unthreatened.
The visitors meanwhile tried to use counter-attacks and set plays to their advantage, but they too rarely looked dangerous on attack.
The only two real opportunities that did come in the first half arrived within a minute of each other, 20 minutes into the game, and both should have ended with goals.
The first fell the way of Baroka, but after Matome Mabeba had whipped in a wonderful cross for Lawrence Ntswane, and with Chiefs keeper Bruce Bvuma in no man's land, the header went over the bar.
At the other end of the pitch, Bernard Parker's measured header set up Philani Zulu, but with a large area of the net to aim for he steered his volley wide.
The only other notable incident in what became an overly-physical stop-start affair was an injury to Amakhosi defender Teenage Hadebe just after the half-hour mark; the Zimbabwean stretchered off the field with a reported concussion following a collision with the upright.
Hadebe was replaced by striker Ryan Moon as Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp changed his back five to a back four, and it was Moon who should really have put the Soweto giants in front, seven minutes into the second half. But after running onto a defence-splitting pass from Parker and having done the hard part in taking the ball around Baroka keeper Elvis Chipezeze, Moon fired his parting shot into the side-netting.
The game was opening up nicely as both teams began to play with more urgency in attack, although when the deadlock was broken, it was via a set-piece as Patjie bent a delightful free-kick into the top corner.
The hosts should have levelled things up 12 minutes later when a slick move saw Moon working the ball to Hendrick Ekstein in the box, but after fashioning space for himself, Ekstein sent a tame shot straight at Chipezeze.
That proved to be the only real chance Chiefs were to have to earn a draw as Baroka made it through the final minutes without much threat to their goal.