Phathutshedzo Nange celebrates with his Black Leopards teammates after scoring the winning goal against Platinum Stars. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

With judgment being reserved in the Johannesburg High Court where Ajax Cape Town are seeking an urgent interdict to prevent the promotion playoffs from taking place, Black Leopards got off to a flying start in their bid to return to the Absa Premiership.

Lidoda Duvha put their homeground advantage to great use by overcoming a sluggish Platinum Stars 1-0 to earn the first maximum points of the three-team mini league that could well be turned on its head by the court’s outstanding decision.

Judge Raylene Keightley will study all the admissions of the various parties and a ruling on the case that has seen Ajax got relegated after being found guilty of fielding the ineligible Tendai Ndoro is expected by Friday.

Clearly not bothered by the case, Leopards who finished second in the National First Division (NFD) played like a team clearly hell-bent on joining the big boys in the elite league.

The Limpopo outfit were their usual attacking self in front of their partisan fans and could have rendered the match a no-contest in the first half.

Granted it was Stars who started the most sprightly of the two, to the extent they forced two consecutive corners in the first three minutes of the match.

But once they settled, Leopards bossed the match and always looked dangerous whenever they ventured forward and had numerous chances to score.

But all of Joseph Mhlongo (twice), Marks Munyai and Phathutshedzi Nange sent their shots away from the target when they had opportunities to beat Dino Visser.

Denied what should have been a penalty on the ninth minute when Enocent Mkhabela tripped Munyai inside the box, Leopards never dropped their heads.

They were duly rewarded early in the second half following a swift counter attack that saw the ball hoofed from their half all the way up.

Ryan de Jong’s attempted clearance was poor and Mhlongo delivered a great low cross that Meshack Maphangule bridged for Nange to slot home from inside the box.

There were numerous opportunities for both sides thereafter and Stars actually found the net late on but from an offside position.

In the end it was Lidoda Duvha and their passionate fans who sang them all the way to this win who were celebrating at the final whistle, coach Joel Masutha being heartily congratulated by members of his technical team.

With Jomo Cosmos next up for them on Sunday, Leopards will no doubt be hoping that Judge Keightley throws out Ajax’s case lest they have to forfeit this result and then play the Cape outfit.

IOL Sport

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