Ashley du Preez in action for Stellenbosch FC at Idas Valley Stadium in Stellenbosch. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky / BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – Stellenbosch FC stayed top of the National First Division following their 3-0 victory over relegation-threatened Cape Umoya United at the University of the Western Cape yesterday.

Stellies have 55 points from 29 games and enjoy a two-point lead over Royal Eagles of KwaZulu-Natal heading into Sunday’s final round of matches.

Steve Barker’s team knew the score before the penultimate round of matches in the NFD, that a win would give Stellies the title and automatic promotion to the PSL if second-placed Eagles did not pick up points from their clash with bottom-placed Witbank Spurs, which they did (4-0). Consequently they have to win their final game at home against league rookies Maccabi FC to be crowned champions.

Eagles travel to struggling Ubuntu Cape Town, who lost to Real Kings and drop into the bottom two.

Gregory Roelf, who joined Stellies from Cape-based ABC Motsepi team Magic FC during the January transfer window, broke the deadlock in the 34th minute for his second goal of the season set in motion by smart inter-passing that saw Iqraam Rayners and Leletu Skelem move play into the penalty area before Roelf fired in a low shot that had United goalkeeper Dino Visser beaten to his right side. It was a deserving lead for the men from the Winelands as they were dominating territory and possession.

United, who needed at least a point to stay clear of the drop zone, did have an early chance to go ahead but in a one-on-one situation with Stellies keeper Dalyan Hawies forward Sipho Senne’s shot on target was blocked away.

Stellies had shots on target from defender Alan Robertson, Skelem and Rayners, who is on 19 goals for the season and in with a shot at equalling the league’s record of 22 set by Bhengu Phumelele.

Skelem brought the crowd to their feet with an audacious overhead that forced Visser into tipping the ball over the crossbar. Rayners fired in from the right byline only for the upright to deny him a third goal in two games (he scored a brace on Wednesday in the 2-1 victory over TS Galaxy at Idas Valley Sports Ground).

The second half saw the men from the Winelands own proceedings with their calculated build-ups and sorties causing problems for the home side’s defence but without damage being inflicted.

That changed five minutes from time when Abednigo Mosiatlhaga came off the bench and doubled the advantage with a thunderous strike following up his corner kick. Ashley du Preez then made it 3-0 moments after coming on as a replacement in front of his parents.

United response in the face of defeat was a red card dished out to Braddon Theron.

There was bad news for third-paced Ajax Cape Town in their bid for a place in the promotional play-offs after going down 2-1 to Uthongathi FC at Athlone Stadium. It means the Urban Warriors have to win at Mbombela United to qualify.

Mike de Bruyn