Lerato Lamola (centre) scored the second goal for Golden Arrows against Baroka. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

DURBAN – The top-eight scramble and the relegation scrap took a few twists after Golden Arrows and Baroka served a five-goal thriller to beat the chills at a wet Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu on Sunday. 

Arrows snuck back into Absa Premiership top-eight contention when they edged a 3-2 win, and Baroka slipped back to the bottom after their second defeat in nine outings. 

There was little from the home crowd to enthuse about early in the tie because Arrows were largely kept on the back foot.

Jose Garcia and Maboke Matlakala were responsible for that, with their attacking interplay creating two clear openings in the first half.

Apart from several half-chances in the first five minutes, Baroka had a strike from Matlakala ruled out for offside by referee Victor Gomes after Matlakala was put through with an exquisitely timed pass from Garcia.

Later, the roles were reversed and Matlakala fed Garcia, who sliced a shot wide of goalkeeper Nkosingiphile Gumede’s near post. 

Arrows survived the early onslaught and stayed in the game with a counter-attacking approach. The tone of the battle was expected given that Baroka were more desperate for the points, whereas Arrows could afford to play a waiting game. 

The Limpopo outfit started the weekend second-bottom in the standings, but slipped back to the bottom the night before after Highlands Park edged Chippa United for a victory that saw them overtake Baroka and Chippa.

They failed to convert their chances and were caught on the break with a long-range missile from Siphelele Magubane five minutes before halftime.

That opened up the clash further as the visitors were forced to go for broke in search of an equaliser, and that worked out in Arrows’ favour.

They pounced on the gaps and went into a 3-1 lead by the 78th minute, courtesy of a tap-in by substitute striker Lerato Lamola and a chip from Kudakwashe Mahachi, following neat interplay with Andile Fikizolo.

Before those strikes, Baroka levelled in the 70th minute via Victor Letsoalo, who punished a defensive blunder by Limbikani Mzava in clearing the ball.

It made for a frantic finish, where Baroka pulled within a goal of equalising after another poacher’s finish from Letsoalo in the 76th minute.

And they might have equalised too with a late dubious penalty, which was even more strangely cancelled by the man in the middle. 

Gomes penalised Gumede for clashing into an opponent after collecting the ball. Midfielder Richard Matloga coolly beat Gumede, but the goal celebrations were cut short by Gomes’ call, which would have come as a relief to the home team. 

That call allowed Arrows to get back into the top eight. They overtook Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town, who were set to play in a late-night clash against Bloemfontein Celtic, and moved to within a point of seventh-placed Maritzburg United.

Independent Media

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