10-men Wits go down to Celtic

Bidvest Wits suffered a 2-1 loss at the hands of Bloemfontein Celtic at the Bidvest Stadium on Saturday night, conceding two goals in the final minutes of the match after going down to 10 men.

The Clever Boys, who would have gone top of the Absa Premiership log had they won, were leading until late in the game when defender Robyn Johannes was sent off, handing the initiative to Phunya Sele Sele. The Free State side scored twice through Tshegofatso Mabaso to secure a win which takes then level with their opponents in second place.

Celtic enjoyed the early attacking initiative and nearly claimed the lead in the 17th minute, with Kabelo Dlamini sending a shot direct on goal from a free kick, only to see goalkeeper Darren Keet pull off an outstanding save.

Just a minute later defenders Lorenzo Gordinho and Tshepo Rikhotso combined for the latter to head into the side netting, as Phunya Sele Sele continued their strong start to the match.

Wits grew into the game as the half wore on, but on 33 minutes they allowed Victor Letsoalo to spring their offside trap – luckily for the Clever Boys’ defenders Keet was able to deny the striker one-on-one and keep the score at 0-0.

Just a minute later Wits’ Simon Murray tried an imaginative effort from long range after spotting the Celtic goalkeeper off his line, but Patrick Tignyemb recovered well to claim the ambitious shot.

With the score locked at 0-0 at the interval, the Clever Boys made a tactical switch at the start of the second half by replacing Deon Hotto with Gift Motupa. The hosts soon tested out Tignyemb with a free kick from Thabang Monare, but the ‘keeper tipped it over the bar.

Yet the Cameroonian gloves-man had no chance in the 57th minute when Haashim Domingo sent a shot direct from a free kick into the goal via the underside of the crossbar – 1-0 to Wits, who were rewarded for a more aggressive start to the second stanza.

Celtic switched out their attack with the introductions of Neo Maema and Tshegofatso Mabaso, and on 77 minutes the latter – in trying to chase down a rebound off the crossbar – was fouled by Robyn Johannes. The result was a Celtic penalty and a red card for the Wits defender, who was adjudged to have denied a clear goal-scoring opportunity.

Mabaso converted from the spot kick to make it 1-1 in the 80th and just five minutes the substitute forward completed the turnaround for Phunya Sele Sele, rounding Keet and sliding a shot into the empty net for a famous 2-1 victory.

Bidvest Wits (0) 1 (Domingo 57’)

Bloemfontein Celtic (0) 2 (Mabaso 80’ pen, 85’)

Bidvest Wits: Keet, Mere, Johannes, Mkhwanazi, Hlanti, Alexander, Monare, Domingo, Hotto (Motupa 46’), Dzvukamanja (Weidlich 80’), Murray (Mahcupu 73’)

Bloemfontein Celtic: Tignyemb, Letlabika, Rikhotso (Mangweni 77’), Gordinho, Pfumbizai, Masuku, Mashikinya, Phalane, Dlamini, Mabena (Mabaso 68’), Letsoalo (Maema 70’)