Mvala, Mogaila inspire Highlands to victory

First-half goals from Mothobi Mvala and Mokete Mogaila inspired Highlands Park to a 2-1 win over Black Leopards in an Absa Premiership clash at Makhulong Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The result sees the Lions of the North climb above Orlando Pirates and claim fifth place on the log, while Lidoda Duvha drop to 13th, just one point and two positions above the relegation zone.

Highlands dominated from the opening minutes and soon began testing Leopards goalkeeper Jonas Mendes, with the likes of Mvala, Peter Shalulile and Mogaila looking full of attacking adventure.

The hosts almost broke the deadlock just past the midway point of the first half when Shalulile rounded the ‘keeper but only succeeded in hitting the crossbar. However, a short while later, the Lions of the North went ahead: Mvala provided a crisp finish through a crowd of bodies to make it 1-0 in the 28th minute.

Leopards almost came up with a quick reply, as a combination between Lesedi Kapinga and Lifa Hlongwane had the beating of goalkeeper Marlon Heugh, but Mvala proved himself a hero at both ends of the field by making a clearance off the goal line.

Highlands doubled their advantage in the 36th minute, with Mogaila scoring an opportunistic goal from a loose ball in the penalty area to give the Tembisa-based side a stranglehold on the game.

Yet they did suffer a blow just before halftime, with Sphiwe Mahlangu succumbing to injury. He was replaced on the stroke of the interval by Sello Motsepe.

The second half saw Leopards up their game, though they were unable to really bring the likes of Kapinga and Mwape Musonda into the game, leaving Heugh relatively untested. Highlands, meanwhile, were happy to conserve their energy, having done all of the hard yards in the first 45 minutes.

Lidoda Duvha looked to shake things up with the introduction of former Platinum Stars and Mamelodi Sundowns winger Mogakolodi Ngele midway through the second half, but even the presence of the Botswana legend didn’t truly spark them to life.

Leopards did claim a late goal, with Musonda converting from the penalty spot after Themba Ndlovu was brought down in the box, but it proved only a consolation for the team from the Limpopo province.

The teams will return to Premiership action on Wednesday 8 January, with Highlands away to Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium and Leopards at home to Chippa United in Thohoyandou.

Highlands Park (2) 2 (Mvala 28’, Mogaila 36’)

Black Leopards (0) 1 (Musonda 88’ pen)

Highlands: Heugh, Mokoena, Munyai, Letsholonyane (Mbunjana 62’), Rae, Mahlangu (Motsepe 45+1’), Msimango, Mbatha, Shalulile, Mvala, Mogaila (Ramagalela 73’)

Leopards: Mendes, Matlaba, Katjiukua (Ndlovu 76’), Gyimah, Zulu, Mokoena (Abubakar 63’), Ngambi, Bereng, Hlongwane (Ngele 69’), Kapinga, Musonda