DURBAN – Mamelodi Sundowns are ruthless away from home this season, and they stretched that record to seven games without defeat on the road after beating Lamontville Golden Arrows 1-0 at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu on Sunday.
A first-half strike from Bangaly Soumahoro was enough to take Sundowns back to the top of the log, displaying Orlando Pirates with 22 points after 11 league outings.
Masandawana still have three games in hand, but have already opened up a two-point lead.
The Tshwane giants have blown away most of their opponents on the road, collecting 19 out of a possible 21 points, with only Chippa United able to resist the Sundowns army in a 0-0 stalemate last week at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane made one change to the team that humbled Baroka 4-0 midweek at Lucas Moripe Stadium.
Khama Billiat was omitted from the 18-man squad and Oupa Manyisa was slotted in his place.
Billiat is on his way out of Sundowns. The club is trying to sell him as soon as next month in order to cash in since his contract is set to expire in June.
On the other hand, Clinton Larsen made three changes to the team that lost 2-1 against Free State Stars on Wednesday.
Nkosingiphile Gumede gifted Abafana Ba Style an opportunity to go in front when he parried a corner kick taken by Percy Tau straight to Soumahoro, who capitalised from a poor clearance and slotted the ball into the net in the sixth minute.
This early goal gave Sundowns confidence as they dominated possession in a very packed midfield made up of Hlompho Kekana, Themba Zwane, Manyisa, Tiyani Mabunda and Sibusiso Vilakazi, who was operating as a second striker.
Despite enjoying the bulk of the possession, Sundowns failed to create meaningful chances to increase their lead.
Sundowns had the post to thank in the 10th minute when Kudakwashe Mahachi unleashed a thunderbolt which left Denis Onyango shocked between the posts.
The Brazilians survived again in the 19th minute when Tebogo Langerman cleared Mahachi’s goal attempt on the line.
Playing against his former side, Mahachi looked like a man on a mission to prove himself as he created all the problems for the likes of Bangaly and Motjeka Madisha at the back.
He did find the back of the net in the 26th minute, but he was judged to be in an offside position.
Arrows’ defence was tactically sound and resolute on open play and held their lines well.
The game was played at a very high pace. Sundowns’ second shot on target came two minutes before the interval as Tau tried his luck outside the box, and Gumede fumbled, but was quick to recover.
A lack of concentration crept in for Arrows as Vilakazi nearly netted the visitors’ second, but his shot was wide.
Larsen went for pace, power and flair when he brought in Nduduzo Sibiya and Thomas Chideu in the place of Siphelele Magubane and Lerato Lamola after 53 minutes.
Sundowns commenced the second half like a house on fire, and Gumede made a telling save to deny Kekana from a set play in the 56th minute.
Mahachi was controversially booked by Victor Gomes for what he deemed a dive just outside the box.
Gumede kept Arrows in the game with good saves during the second half.