EAST LONDON – Hosts Chippa United put a dent into Free State Stars' slim title hopes, with a 1-0 win in an Absa Premiership match played at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in East London on Saturday afternoon.
The result was sweet revenge for the Chilli Boys, as Chippa are known, following their 2-1 reverse against the same opposition in Nedbank Cup action last weekend.
After a first half of few goal-scoring chances for both sides, whatever Chippa coach Vladislav Heric said to his charges at the break, seemed to do the trick, with Abel Mabaso scoring the only goal of the match in the 47th minute. The midfielder's side-footed scoring effort came courtesy of a pass from Onassis Mntambo.
The goal seemed to jolt Stars’ attackers into action, but all of skipper Paulus Masehe, fellow midfielder Thabang Klaas and striker Sinethemba Jantjie, were unable to finish off chances past Chippa No 1 Daniel Akpeyi.
At the other end of the park, with the exception of the goal scored by Chippa, Stars goalkeeper Badra Sangare, had a quiet game, playing behind a reasonably solid rearguard which has been one of the Bethlehem-based team's strengths this season.
The victory was Chippa's first league triumph since they beat Amazulu 2-0 on January 7, while the result also brought an end to Stars’ seven-match unbeaten run which consisted of five league and two Nedbank Cup games.
Chippa, move to 30 points from 24 matches and will travel to Tshwane for their next league encounter, when they take on top-of-the-table Mamelodi Sundowns on April 4.
Stars, who remain on 37 points from 24 outings, will play Kaizer Chiefs in their next league match on the same date. Before then, Stars will take on giant-killers, National First Division side Ubuntu Cape Town, in the Mother City on March 31, in a Nedbank Cup quarter-final.