Siphelele Mthembu's first-half goal was the difference between Free State Stars and SuperSport United. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

BETHLEHEM – Free State Stars defeated SuperSport United 1-0 in an Absa Premiership clash at Goble Park on Wednesday night.

The result moved the Free State side into a lofty sixth position on the log standings.

Aubrey Modiba had an early attempt to put SuperSport ahead, but hoofed his shot over the bar.

Soon after, Jeremy Brockie contrived to make the most of a half-chance with a clever effort on the half-volley, but unfortunately steered the ball wide.

Stars, though, weathered the storm and gradually took charge of the rest of the half. In the 25th minute, the Free Staters took the lead after a fine finish from Siphelele Mthembu.

A minute later they could have increased their advantage, but Reyaad Pieterse pulled off a brilliant save to deny Sibusiso Hlubi.

Stars continued to put the SuperSport defence under pressure and they fashioned another chance, but Sinethemba Jantjie could only turn his attempt wide of goal.

SuperSport had no choice but to go for broke in the second half, with coach Eric Tinkler making his intentions clear by bringing on Reneilwe Letsholonyane for Thato Mokeke.

Three minutes into the second period, the Pretoria side had a chance to level, but Nigerian defender Egwuekwe Azubuike headed over the bar.

With Stars content to keep things tight, in order to protect their lead, it turned into a bit of a dogfight in the centre of park.

Letsholonyane made his presence felt after coming on as a substitute and was unlucky when he drove an attempt straight at Stars goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare. 

SuperSport then made another change in the 63rd minute when Sifiso Miyeni came on for Richard Boateng.

Five minutes later, Stars were reduced to 10 men when Patrick Phungwayo was given a straight red card.

Desperate for some inspiration in attack, SuperSport took off defender Clayton Daniels and brought on striker Bradley Grobler in the 77th minute.

In the closing stages, SuperSport threw the kitchen sink at the opposition, with Sangare denying Miyeni with a good save, but Stars hung on to take the three points.

African News Agency (ANA)