Kaizer Chiefs derailed what looked like a runaway train in the Premiership race with a 2-0 victory over early-pacesetters Wits on Wednesday night.
This win moved Amakhosi to fifth position, and did the championship challengers a favour by handing Wits only their fourth defeat of the season.
Chiefs might not be among the genuine title challengers just yet, but beating Wits in their own backyard will do their league campaign a world of good and inject confidence to a team that are looking to end their three-season barren run.
An army of security guards, clad in yellow vests, populated Milpark and its precinct on Wednesday night.
They weren’t as menacing as the gilet jaunes (yellow vests) that shook France to the core in protests that started as a reaction to a new eco tax on petrol and diesel.
These “yellow jackets” were there to bring calm and ensure France’s chaotic scenes aren’t seen here in Milpark, with the visiting supporters having been involved in unsavoury scenes when their team wasn’t doing well last season.
The yellow vests were the only thing that light up a drab first half, with both teams cancelling each other out.
Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp retained the formation he used against Mamelodi Sundowns.
The German started with three centrebacks and gave the fullbacks freedom to go forward. Virgil Vries kept his place in goal, despite his howler against Sundowns costing Amakhosi the match.
The Namibian goalkeeper looked confident. He wasn’t rattled, even when his own fans jeered him for taking long in his goal-kicks.
Vries wasn’t the only one who lacked urgency here. Both teams started on a pedestrian pace even though there was a lot to play for.
Wits were fighting to increase their lead at the summit that was cut to two by Orlando Pirates’ win over Highlands Park.
Amakhosi, on the other hand, had to get a win to make up for their loss to Sundowns.
Chiefs took the lead through Leonardo Castro’s boot with a poacher’s goal. The Amakhosi forward connected with a loose ball that was played into the box by Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya.
That goal gave Amakhosi fans life in the stands. They found their voices and cheered their team on, competing with the Wits’ brass-band that played non-stop.
Chiefs supporters didn’t win this battle, but they were audible.
They wouldn’t have minded, because Chiefs were winning the real battle on the pitch after being frustrated for almost an hour by the best defence in the league.
Castro’s goal ignited Amakhosi. They attacked with more energy and determination. The Colombian’s goal also opened up the match.
Wits took the game to Amakhosi in search of an equaliser. They committed many men forward, opening spaces that Chiefs exploited with their pace.
Amakhosi caught Wits with a swift counter to seal the match and secure three points. Hendrick Ekstein found the back of the net, and gave Chiefs a much-needed win ahead of their trip to Ndola to take on Zesco United in the Caf Confederation Cup playoffs on Sunday.
The match ended in chaos, with Wits’ players storming referee Victor Gomes, who sent off Robyn Johannes in the last minute of optional time.