POLOKWANE – Polokwane City moved up to fifth place and within four points of joint log leaders Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns after coming from behind to beat Black Leopards 3-1 in a Limpopo derby at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Lidoda Duvha were on top for most of the first half and took the lead midway through the first stanza through Mwape Musonda. But the hosts hit back with an equaliser from Puleng Tloane just before half time, before Mpho Mvelase put them ahead in the 50th minute and then Mohamed Anas made quite sure of victory with a goal 10 minutes from time.
Leopards started on the front foot and could have been ahead after four minutes when Joseph Mhlongo burst free down the right flank, but he was denied by goalkeeper George Chigova, who made a sharp stop at the near post.
Rise and Shine had a chance of their own eight minutes later when Jabulani Maluleke blazed a half volley inches over the bar, although for most of the first half, it was Lidoda Duvha who controlled play and who looked more of a threat.
This was underlined on 25 minutes when Musonda rose majestically to head in an inch-perfect cross from Lefa Hlongwane.
The visitors remained on top and could have doubled the lead when Phathutshedzo Nange ran onto a goal kick and found himself one-on-one with Chigova, but he put a lobbed effort over the bar.
Polokwane began to find more rhythm shortly before the interval and after chances for Anas and Salulani Phiri, they equalised in the first minute of first-half stoppage time when Tloane latched onto a loose ball and curled a beauty into the top corner.
It took Rise and Shine just five second-half minutes to complete the turnaround as Mvelase sprinted onto a quickly-taken free kick before toeing the ball past Leopards keeper King Ndlovu from the edge of the area.
The hosts were denied adding another goal soon afterwards by the post and having failed to make it 3-1, they suddenly found themselves under pressure as Leopards came fighting back.
Chances followed for the visitors, but the scoreline remained the same as Musonda blasted a shot over the bar before Mhlongo found the side-netting when he should have scored.
The team from up north continued to knock on the door for an equaliser but they too found the woodwork against them as Hlongwane smashed a 75th-minute free-kick into the frame of the goal.
That proved to be the turning point; instead of getting themselves back in the contest, Leopards found themselves a further goal behind down five minutes later when Anas played Maluleke in on goal. Maluleke initially seemed to have squandered the opportunity, but then cleverly returned the ball to the oncoming Anas for a simple tap in.
Anas nearly rubbed more salt in Leopards' wounds with headed effort soon after, but once more the woodwork kept the ball out the net.
The result leaves Leopards just one point above the drop zone, although they do have two games in hand on three of the four teams below them on the Premiership table.
African News Agency (ANA)