Johannesburg - Free State Stars held off an early charge from Ajax Cape Town to secure a well-deserved 2-1 win in their Premiership match in Phuthaditjhaba on Wednesday.

Ajax were in control early in the encounter, creating a couple of chances, with Enoch Shabalala firing over the bar before Toriq Losper had an effort saved by Stars goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.

Stars, however, took the advantage midway through the first half when Luyolo Nomandela slammed home a low strike to give the hosts the lead.

Ajax hit back eight minutes later, with Mweene clearing a shot from Shabalala before Granwald Scott netted from the rebound to score the equaliser.

The visitors created another opportunity on the half-hour mark but Mweene was again up to the task, saving an effort from Lebogang Manyama.

The home side made the visitors pay, after they failed to capitalise on a dominant first-half performance, when Togolese international Sadat Ouro-Akoriko netted in first-half injury time to give Stars the lead at the break.

Stars seemed to return with more confident after the interval, with Ajax goalminder Sander Westerveld forced into action numerous times as he prevented the hosts from stretching the gap.

Angelo Kerspuy sent his strike too high before Westerveld managed to get a hand to Nomandela's effort in the 71st minute.

The Free State keeper was called on again with 13 minutes remaining and he managed to deflect Paulos Masehe's shot, but the hosts had done enough to secure victory. - Sapa