Free State Stars edge Golden Arrows in Bethlehem

Free State Stars defeated Golden Arrows 2-1 in Wednesday’s early Absa Premiership match, played at the Goble Park Stadium in Bethlehem.

Ea Lla Koto’s goals were netted by Goodman Dlamini and Sinethemba Jantjie, while Abafana Bes’thende’s reply was scored by Siphelele Magubane.

The teams traded attacks throughout the opening 20 minutes, with Arrows needing defenders Trevor Mathiane and Nkanyiso Mngwengwe to be at their best to deny a lively Mohammed Anas, while Siphelele Magubane shot just off target from a free kick at the other end.

As the half wore on, the Durban side began to assume a greater control of the game and created some fine scoring chances. The first arrived on 29 minutes when Knox Mutizwa flicked-on a throw-in to find Magubane, but he shot over the crossbar.

With just a few minutes to go to the break, Arrows had another opportunity as Mutizwa again was the architect, this time picking out Thabo Molefe, but the midfielder shot wide of Badra Ali Sangare’s posts.

Stars also threatened late in the half when Anas finally managed to shake off the attention of Mngwengwe, but his subsequent shot didn’t trouble Nkosingiphile Gumede in the visitors’ goals.

The hosts picked up in the second stanza where they left off in the first and on 49 minutes they broke the deadlock: Anas was once again at the heart of the attack, as he controlled a cross before teeing up Goodman Dlamini, who finished the chance to put Stars 1-0 up.

In the 57th minute Ea Lla Koto doubled their lead, with Sinethemba Jantjie scoring from a set piece to put his side well in control of the match. Or so Stars thought, until Abafana Bes’thende pulled a goal back on the counter almost immediately, with Zolani Nkombelo setting up Magubane to finally find the back of the net.

This sparked a period of dominance from the KwaZulu-Natal side as they pushed for an equaliser up to the end of the game, but even with a seven-minute period of added time they were unable to penetrate Stars’ defence a second time.

The result sees the Free State side move up to eight place on the log - temporarily at least - while Arrows remain fourth but are likely to drop down a place or two when the evening matches are completed.

Free State Stars 2

Dlamini 49’, Jantjie 57’

Golden Arrows 1

Magubane 59’

Stars: Sangare, Mashego, Mobbie, Keita, Phungwayo, Jantjie, Masehe, Mokhuoane, Maphakisa (Hlubi 63’), Dlamini (Teyise 88’), Anas (Abrahms 70’)

Arrows: Gumede, Dube, Mngwengwe, Mathiane, Nonyane (Lamola 55’), Cele, Molefe (Jooste 61’), Mahachi, Magubane (Ntanga 80’), Nkombelo, Mutizwa