Swallows' struggle continue this year after sharing the spoils with Celtic
BLOEMFONTEIN – Swallows FC are finding the going tough in the second half of the season.
On Tuesday night they dropped points for the 10th time in their last 11 matches in the DStv Premiership, following their 1-all draw with Bloemfontein Celtic at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium.
After ending their nine-game winless run to return to winning ways in the league at home against Black Leopards, Swallows, who are fifth, were looking to continue with the momentum away to Celtic who are eyeing a top-eight finish as well.
But the three points would have been great news for the Soweto giants, given that they are scheduled to make a “sponsorship announcement” with telecommunications giants Telkom during a press conference on Thursday, according to reports on Wednesday.
With the league also reaching its climax, with every point ought to have a huge say to the teams' ambitions, Swallows’ coach Brandon Truter knows that if he’ll strengthen his chances of being at the club’s dugout next term, he can’t afford to allow the team finish beyond the fifth spot.
Already the Birds came into this match sitting on that position on the standings, and “Brakkies” adopted an offensive approach – with Ruzaigh Gamildien and the Kgaogelo Sekgota who was drafted in the preliminary Olympic Games squad – leading the line.
That didn’t bear fruit in the first half, though, with Phunya Selele’s defence protecting goalkeeper Sipho Chaine. Even when Swallows had clear-cut chances, such as when Musa Nyatama put Sekgota through, the latter failed to finish off, putting his effort wide.
After suffering a massive blow early in the half, with captain and striker Ndumiso Mabena forced to come off for Harris Tchilimbou after sustaining an injury, Celtic were not quick off their blocks in terms of pressing Swallows for scoring opportunities as they battled to tick in attack.
But despite scoring opportunities few and far in between for Phunya Selele in the first half, Njabulo Ngcobo was forced to make a goal-line clearance for Swallows after a goal bound deflection from Tchilimbou deep into stoppage time.
However, it would turn out to be a bad day for goalkeepers in top-flight, given that Chaine awarded Swallows their opener after Rashid Watenga clumsy mistake against Baroka FC early in the day cost Chippa United all three points at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
After a back pass from Sifiso Ngobeni, Chaine blasted his clearance against a pressing Sekgota who let the ball roll in his path before hitting the second ball past the former. Neo Maema, though, handed an instant response for the home side.
Maema slotted home a Ngobeni cut-back which beat Virgil Vries after taking a huge deflection from Wandisile Letlabika. Maema, though, nearly snatched the win for his side but his long-range curler rattled the upright before Lucky Baloyi’s rebound was saved off the line by Vries.