JOHANNESBURG – Tshegofatso Mabasa came off the bench in fine style to score two goals in five minutes in a 2-1 league win for Bloemfontein Celtic over Wits at the Bidvest Stadium on Saturday night.
The result sees Celtic going level second on the table on 20 points, three behind Orlando Pirates and behind Wits on goal difference.
All three goals in Braamfontein came in the second half, with Hashim Domingo putting Gavin Hunt’s team ahead, before Mabasa netted a brace which takes him top of the Premiership scoring charts this season with five goals.
The first half saw both sides with a couple of good chances, starting as early as the second minute when Victor Letsoala robbed Robyn Johannes of the ball and played in Ndumiso Mabena, but the latter was unable to locate a teammate from inside the box.
Having overcome an uncertain beginning to the game, the home side started to find some rhythm and had a couple of attempts, but neither Terrence Dzukamanja nor Elias Pelembe could find the target.
Letsoala was causing ongoing problems for the Clever Boys defence, and Wits goalkeeper Darren Keet appeared fortunate to remain on the field with just a yellow card rather than a red, after he came storming out of his box and clattered into the Celtic midfielder as he went in on goal.
It was just as well from the home side’s perspective as the Bafana goalkeeper came up with a brilliant save moments later, when he tipped Kabelo Dlamini’s top-corner-bound free kick over the bar.
Keet was at it again in the 33rd minute when he kept out Letsoala, who had beaten the offside trap and gone clean in on goal after a lovely through-ball by Lantshene Phalane.
Shortly afterwards, Celtic keeper Patrick Tignyemb made an equally good save when he got back on to his line to stop Wits forward Simon Murray scoring with an audacious effort from the halfway line.
Tignyemb also had the first save to make after the restart, and again the Cameroonian did superbly as he tipped Thabang Monare’s free kick over the bar.
But there was little he could do to stop the Students breaking the deadlock, in the 56th minute, after a free kick was rolled into Domingo, who blazed a rocket of a shot into the roof of the net.
The Free Staters regrouped and came back looking for an equaliser.
And their efforts were rewarded when they were handed a penalty in the 78th minute after Phalane’s thunderous free kick hit the bar and then bounced off Keet, before Johannes fouled Letsoala just as he was about to put the rebound into the net.
Johannes was red-carded by referee Victor Gomes, before Mabasa made no mistake in beating Keet with a 79th minute spot kick down the middle.
The winner arrived just five minutes later as Letsoala played in a slide-rule pass for Mabasa, who showed fantastic composure to go around Keet and put the ball into an empty net.
Wits almost grabbed a late equaliser, but after Tignyemb had made a double save, Sifiso Hlanti fired over the bar from 15 yards out on the rebound as the Clever Boys failed to reclaim their place at the top of the standings from Orlando Pirates.
African News Agency (ANA)