Stellenbosch claim key win in survival fight

Stellenbosch’s survival fight in the Absa Premiership was given a major shot in the arm when they defeated Highlands Park 4-1 at the Makhulong Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Iqraam Rayners inspired Stellies with two goals and an assist, helping them claim just a fourth win from 18 league matches this season and rise to the relative safety of 11th place on the log. The Lions of the North remain in sixth spot.

Stellenbosch started strongly and were rewarded for their early pressure with a penalty. Key attacker Iqraam Rayners stepped up to take the spot kick and duly beat Highlands goalkeeper Marlon Heugh to make it 1-0 to the visitors in the eighth minute.

The early goal conceded sparked Highlands into life and they created several scoring chances, though they initially struggled to find a way past Lee Langeveldt in between the Stellies goal posts.

Just past the half-hour mark the hosts were rewarded with an equaliser. Mokete Mogaila latched onoto Lindokuhle Mbatha’s assist and sent an effort beyond goalkeeper Langeveldt to make it 1-1 and deservedly bring the Lions of the North level.

Yet Stellenbosch were undeterred and remained a threat on the counter attack. They duly scored a second goal in the 41st minute, with defender Alan Robertson heading home a rare goal to see the Cape side enjoy a 2-1 lead at the halftime interval.

Highlands made a change at the start of the second half, withdrawing Wayde Jooste and replacing him with Rodney Ramagalela. They went on to enjoy dominance in terms of chances created, but lacked the cutting edge to truly capitalise.

And they were punished with two late goals from Stellies, who struck through Rayners and Nyiko Mobbie (who each provided the assist for the other’s goal) in the 85th and 88th minutes to seal a famous and much-needed win for the Cape side.

The teams will return to Premiership action next weekend: Stellenbosch will host Baroka on the evening of Friday 17 January, while Highlands will be away to Orlando Pirates on Saturday 18 January.

Highlands Park (1) 1 (Mogaila 31’)

Stellenbosch (2) 4 (Rayners 8’ pen 85’, Robertson 41’, Mobbie 88’)

TEAMS:

Highlands Park: Heugh, Mokoena, Mbhele (Motlafi 80’), Motsepe, Mzava, L. Mbatha, Jooste (Ramagalela 46’), Letsholonyane, Shalulile, Mvala, Mogaila (T. Mbatha 60’)

Stellenbosch: Langeveldt, Mobbie, Robertson, Johannes, van Heerden, du Preez (Bergman 53’), Scott, Matsi, Karuru (Gould 80’), Rayners, Isaacs (Moon 69’)