Bloemfontein Celtic’s caretaker coaches John Maduka and Lehlohonolo Seema saw their side snatch a 1-0 league victory against struggling Chippa United at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane on Friday night.
In what was the first Premiership action of 2019, Celtic ended the four-match losing streak they had taken into the Christmas break thanks to Ndumiso Mabena’s second-half goal, despite Chippa having enjoyed the bulk of the scoring chances.
The Chilli Boys were certainly the dominant force in the opening 45 minutes, and coach Joel Masutha would have been disappointed to see his side going into the break without having found the net in front of a lively home crowd in Mdantsane.
The hosts had two good chances around the sixth-minute mark as Rhulani Manzini had a header well saved by Celtic keeper Patrick Tingyemb, before Tebogo Makobela just failed to pick out the far corner of the net from a tight angle.
There was another opening for Chippa midway through the first stanza when Tercious Malepe did well to turn inside the box, but he succeeded only in dragging his shot into the side-netting.
Malepe was again in the action when Mbhazima Rikhotso’s under-hit back-pass forced an error from Tingyemb, but the Chippa midfielder was unable to score with the goal at his mercy.
The Eastern Cape side continued to pile on the pressure, and Mark Mayambela was very unlucky not to get on the score-sheet when he sent a 36th-minute header from a corner thumping against the bar.
The Free State side finally threatened the Chippa goal in the 40th minute, and it took a brilliant reflex save from Daniel Akpeyi to keep out a thunderous drive from 25 yards out by Lucky Baloyi.
Chippa were to respond with an attack of their own just moments later, and Tingyemb was forced into getting down quickly in order to keep out a stinging shot from Andile Mbenyane.
The visiting team managed to stem the tide in the second half.
And after Neo Maema had sliced a shot wide, Phunya Sele Sele took the lead in the 58th minute when a delightful dinked pass from Kabelo Dlamini put Mabena in on goal, the veteran striker showing a cool head to lob the ball over the oncoming Akpeyi.
Boosted by the goal, Celtic grew in confidence and were able to take a hold of proceedings, ensuring Chippa struggled to try to find a way back into the match.
There were a couple of potential openings for an equaliser for the Chilli Boys, and they did lay siege to the Phunya Sele Sele goal in the final 10 minutes, but some good work by the Free State side in defence enabled them to hold on for the win without much issue.
African News Agency (ANA)