Olaleng Shaku (right) opened the scoring for Baroka against Stellebosch on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Stellenbosch FC’s challenge for promotion to the PSL was snuffed out in 2-0 defeat to Baroka FC at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday afternoon.

As it stands, Baroka have seven points, Stellenbosch two and Black Leopards one point. Baroka and Stellenbosch have one game remaining; Leopards have two games to play and have a sniff if they win both this coming week.

For Stellenbosch, though, that’s it – they’ll have to try next season again. Truth be told, though, as has been the case throughout the promotion playoff campaign, they just don’t have enough in attack.

On Saturday, it fell apart for Stellenbosch when they went a goal down as early as the second minute. As a result, whatever game plan was practised, whatever the strategy was expected to be, it was flung out the window. Two minutes in, and a new game plan had to be called for.

As for the goal, it was a real sucker punch. Stellenbosch’s intention was to keep things tight early on and look to hit on the counter, but they failed to stick to the script as they allowed Olaleng Shaku to drift free from a free kick, and the gleeful Baroka man pounced to head in.

Stunned by the early setback, the Cape Winelands team struggled to get going. They kept turning over possession, which allowed Baroka’s free-running players to cause them all sorts of headache in defence.

On top of that, Stellenbosch battled to find any urgency in attack. They lacked a cutting edge up front. The idea was to get the ball to target-man Mame Niang and then play off him, but the Senegalese striker was well-policed by the Baroka defence.

Stellenbosch’s bad luck continued a few minutes before halftime when left back Edward Hadebe was stretchered off with a bad injury, to be replaced by an attacker in Brent Adonis.

It showed that Troughton had abandoned any thoughts of caution and was planning to throw everything forward in an attempt to try and snatch the victory they so desperately needed to keep their promotion hopes alive.

But nothing would turn for Stellenbosch – and they were fortunate not to concede again 10 minutes into the second half when captain Junaid Sait had to clear a goal-bound attempt from Victor Letsoala off the goal-line.

With nothing happening in attack, Troughton then had no choice but to go for broke, bringing on Cleophas Dube in place of Niang and youngster Jamie Webber for David Booysen.

With Stellenbosch bombing players forward, they were always going to leave themselves short at the back – and Baroka were able to capitalise by netting another goal through Mduduzi Mdatsane.

Independent Media

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