DURBAN – A resolute Royal Eagles started the promotion-relegation playoffs on a positive note as they defeated Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila 1-0 in an entertaining encounter at Chatsworth Stadium on Wednesday.
Patrick Nyame was the star of the show for Eagles with a number of great saves between the posts for the home side.
Tshakhuma dominated the first stanza, controlling the midfield and creating better goal-scoring opportunities.
The visitors played with finesse and an iron will to win, but failed to turn their chances into goals.
Mbulelo Wambi broke the deadlock for Eagles after 22 minutes, as he profited from a quality corner delivery by Sonke Ntuli on the left-hand side.
The game was played at a frenetic pace in front of an excited crowd, with both sides showing their attacking intent.
Eagles went into the interval leading by Wambi’s goal.
Tshakhuma continued with their dominance in the second half, but poor decision-making in the final third again let them down.
Eagles were unlucky to be denied by a post after 58 minutes, when Wambi hit the woodwork.
The home side introduced Diego Brown in place of Levy Mashiane, who was skating on thin ice as he was cautioned in the first half. He was given a lot of warnings after the interval, and it was a wise decision to take him off by Eagles’ technical team.
Nyame produced a brilliant save to keep Edward Manqele from restoring parity. He played a nice one-one with Phumelele Bhengu, and unleashed a thunderbolt from distance, but the Cameroonian was equal to the task.
Tshakhuma were piling on the pressure in search of an equaliser, but Nyame was having a stellar of a game. He denied Bhengu with another fantastic save in the 76th minute.
A minute later, Bhengu was at it again, but Sabata Mosebo made a goal-line clearance.
Eagles closed shop with four minutes to go as they sacrificed Nkosivumile Zulu, and Mario Booysen was introduced in his place.
Brown missed a glorious opportunity to kill off the game in referee’s optional time. He directed his attempt off target with the keeper to beat.
Andile Fikizolo was also in a good position and was a great option, but Brown went for glory.
Tshakhuma were unlucky not to get a point as Eagles registered just one shot on target the whole game.
Eagles will take on Maritzburg United on Sunday in their second game at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg at 3pm.
Maritzburg coach Eric Tinkler was present with his team to watch Eagles and Tshakhuma on Wednesday.@Minenhlecr7