Wits sink City to close gap on leaders

Bidvest Wits closed to within seven points of Absa Premiership leaders Mamelodi Sundowns with a 1-0 win over Polokwane City at the old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday night.

Phumlani Ntshangase scored the key goal for the Clever Boys, who remain in second place on the log and move to 45 points from 22 matches, seven adrift of the pace-setting Brazilians (who have played the same number of games).

Rise and Shine, meanwhile, remain in 13th place on the log with 22 points from as many matches and have opened the door for the likes of Jomo Cosmos and University of Pretoria to close in on the Limpopo side should they claim victories this coming weekend.

The early minutes of the match were marked by a series of rough challenges, the nastiest of which saw Thapelo Tshilo stamp down on the back of James Keene’s knee – an offence which probably would have earned the Polokwane defender a red card had it been seen by the referee.

Wits almost claimed the lead in the ninth minute, with Thulani Hlatshwayo unwittingly deflecting a left-flank cross toward goal off his thigh, but City goalkeeper George Chigova reacted brilliantly to claw the ball away from danger.

The rain started to pour down from about midway through the first half, making conditions tricky for the players – especially the goalkeepers, with the experienced Moeneeb Josephs almost embarrassed by a simple long ball which slipped through his arms but luckily squirmed away for a corner kick in the 37th minute.

Six minutes into the second half the Clever Boys threatened an opener, with Joaquim Lupeta getting away a low shot which was well saved by Chigova. Keene followed up to latch onto the rebound, but he appeared to be fouled from behind by Carlington Nyadombo – yet the referee waved away appeals for a penalty.

Wits were finally rewarded for their attacking endeavour just a few minutes before the hour mark. A corner kick was flicked on by Hlatshwayo and defensive midfielder Phumlani Ntshangase showed the instincts of a striker with a brilliant turn and volley into the top corner to put the visitors 1-0 up.

The goal proved to be the last major highlight of the match, with Wits unable to add to their advantage and City powerless to find a way back into the match against the visitors’ resilient defence.

Polokwane City 0 Bidvest Wits (0) 1 (Ntshangase 57’)

City: Chigova, Phungwayo, Tshilo, Nyadombo, Hlongwane, J. Maluleke, Alexander, Motumi (Tlolane 90’), Matsemela (Matjila 77’), Ngidi (Mavundla 77’), Mncwango

Wits: Josephs, Allie, Hlatshwayo, Mkhwanazi, Hlanti, Pelembe, Ntshangase, Motshwari, Sheppard (Shongwe 82’), Lupeta (Kadi 74’), Keene (Khumalo 90+1’)