Survival boost as Bay get late winner at Swallows

RICHARDS Bay FC players such as Moses Mthembu are carrying the side’s survival hopes. | BackpagePix

RICHARDS Bay FC players such as Moses Mthembu are carrying the side’s survival hopes. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 6, 2024


Smiso Msomi

Richards Bay (0) 1

Myaba 82’

Moroka Swallows (0) 0

RICHARDS Bay tightened their grip on the relegation/promotion spot with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Moroka Swallows at the King Zwelithini Stadium yesterday.

The Natal Rich Boyz broke a seven-game winless run in all competitions while securing a second victory for head coach Vusumuzi Vilakazi.

Just as the game seemed to be heading for a muddy draw, it was first-half substitute Khuda Myaba who found the all-important goal for Richards Bay in Umlazi.

The Malawian international striker broke the deadlock in the 82nd minute with a smart finish inside the box after a blistering counter-attack by the home side.

The pressure could not have been higher on Richards Bay ahead of this encounter after failing to collect any points in back-to-back matches.

Richards Bay also opened up a five-point cushion between themselves and bottom-placed Cape Town Spurs.

The arrival of a potential relegation candidate in the Dube Birds presented the KwaZulu Natal side an opportunity to cut their gap from safety to just eight points.

Following a few surprise results by teams in the bottom half at the start of the second round, the likelihood of both The Natal Rich Boyz and Spurs escaping became a possibility.

With Spurs only in action on Tuesday, it was up to Richards Bay to extend their two-point gap over them in one of five games they'll play at home this season.

Spurs will play hosts to a Mamelodi Sundowns outfit yet to suffer defeat at the Athlone Stadium, realistically hoping to avoid defeat to regenerate their early 2024 momentum.

In search of all three points, Vilakazi threw out all but one of the players who performed vehemently against Mamelodi Sundowns last time out.

Eswatini-born Justice Figuareido came in to replace Myaba in the front three as the hosts lined up in a 4-3-3 formation against Swallows.

Surprisingly enough, Musa Nyatama in the opposite dugout made several changes to his side that drew at home to Orlando Pirates, welcoming the likes of Gabadinho Mhango and Tlakusani Mthethwa back into the 11.

One would have assumed that wet conditions in Durban would suit the fast-paced passing game of Richards Bay but it was Swallows who looked more dangerous in the opening stanza as they edged the ball possession and registered five attempts on goal.

The Natal Rich Boyz bench quickly realised the need to wrestle the game back into their favour and made two substitutes at the halftime break.

Moses Mthembu and Thulani Gumede made their way on for Figuareido and Ntsako Makhubela, who had been under par on the day.

Many factors could've been attributed to the hosts’ display for a huge chunk of the match, but a downpour of rain in the second stanza saw both teams often struggle to get their feet on the ball.

However, it was Richards Bay who were able to dig deep into their arsenal and scraped through with a tight win under difficult conditions.