CAPE TOWN – After an eight-game winless run, Ajax Cape Town finally registered their first win in 2017 when they edged out Highlands Park 1-0 on Wednesday night.
The Capetonians had to dig deep in the second half, though, to keep a spirited Highlands at bay.
It was, however, clear to see why these two sides are struggling as they produced a football game that wasn’t always very pleasing to the eye.
But for a truly splendid goal from Ajax winger Mark Mayambela, this was a bit of a forgettable occasion.
In the opening 45 minutes Ajax dominated possession and territory, while Highlands sat back in defence with numbers behind the ball.
With this the approach, Ajax, of course, needed to be very careful when they lost the ball because the visitors from Tembisa were always dangerous on the counter.
Ajax found it difficult to play their way through the congested defensive lines of Highlands, and they were going to need something special – something different – to find a way to goal.
And that was exactly what they got in the 10th minute when, after a stunning piece of link-up play and inter-passing, Mayambela found himself clean through on goal and the finish was a stunning one indeed.
With Highlands goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini rushing out to make things difficult for Mayambela, the tricky Ajax attacker produced a deft, audacious chip to leave the keeper stranded and give the Cape side a 1-0 lead.
As the game meandered along, there was no change to proceedings. Ajax, despite all their possession, never really threatened the opposition. They passed it around in non-dangerous areas, without creating all that much.
And because of that, they were always ripe to be caught on the break, which nearly happened three minutes before halftime when Highlands midfielder Brandon Theron had an great chance to equalise, but headed wide from right in front of goal.
Highlands coach Gordon Igesund then released his team from their defensive shackles in the second half and they were, by far, the better team in the second period.
With a bit more luck and, dare it be said, a lot more quality, Highlands could perhaps have got something out of the match.
But as it is, they just never had enough and Ajax held on take the vital three points on offer.
The Cape side now move up to 11th on the PSL standings, while Highlands remain anchored to the bottom.