Bidvest Wits (1) 3
Mhango 20 pen, Ngele 66, 70
Golden Arrows (0) 0
Bidvest Stadium - Reviews about this match will differ – some will argue it was one those forgettable Absa Premiership encounters, while others will claim Bidvest Wits showed grit and improved in the second half to make it look like a comfortable win on Tuesday night.
The hosts were not at their best, but did enough with two well-taken goals from Mogakolodi Ngele later on to add to Gabadinho Mhango’s first half penalty. The visitors, fresh from taking a big scalp at the weekend when they eliminated reigning league champions Mamelodi Sundowns out of the Nedbank Cup, were mostly poor and would have probably not conceded in the manner in which they did if they were just a little bit sharper.
Wits were patient, asserting their authority in the game at the right time to ensure they go top of the Premier League standings by a point, but with a game in hand.
Those who would have argued that this was hardly a game to linger long in memory would have looked to the first half to conclude their assessment. Apart from referee Chris Harrison awarding a spot kick, which striker and Wits leading scorer Mhango coolly converted, there was very little to write home about.
The Clever Boys were even dealt a blow as early as the 19th minute when midfield workhorse Thabang Monare walked off the pitch clutching his hamstring and was replaced by Phumlani Ntshangase. But those who are always eager to see a football match through will praise Wits for a second half worthy of a side looking to win the championship.
With the officiating far from convincing – like when one of the linesmen flagged Mhango for offside despite the ball coming from a throw-in and disrupting play as well as aggravating the coaches on the sidelines – the Clever Boys dug deep to put the game to bed.
Ngele took the initiative for Wits’ second goal, ambitiously testing Arrows goalkeeper Nkosingiphile Gumede from distance. The keeper didn’t even dive and Wits were cruising. It was the former Sundowns man who was again on hand to put away a third goal for the home side to guarantee their status as log leaders on Tuesday night.
Mhango turned provider this time and picked out Ngele in the congested Arrows box, and the latter was first on the ball to beat Gumede for the second time.
Ngele’s double was definitely the highlight for Wits, giving them belief that they can still go all the way in the unpredictable title chase without the injured James Keene, who watched from the stands alongside another important player in Daine Klate.
Gavin Hunt’s men have another true test next Wednesday when they travel to the Mother City to face Cape Town City, who could overtake them as log leaders later this week.
This championship race is only just heating up.