Galaxy edge Swallows, exit relegation zone

TS Galaxy defeated Swallows FC 1-0 at the Mbombela Stadium on Sunday afternoon, leapfrogging their opponents out of the DStv Premiership’s relegation playoff zone.

The result – secured by an early goal from Sphiwe Mahlangu – sees the Rockets move to14th place on eight points and edge ahead of the Birds on goals scored. The Soweto giants are in the relegation playoff zone (and just one point ahead of bottom-of-the-log Marumo Gallants) after registering a 10th straight league match without a win.

Swallows almost got off to a flying start, with veteran Lebohang Mokoena picking up a pass from the left before bursting into the penalty area and firing just over the target as early as the second minute of the game.

However, Galaxy claimed the lead in the seventh minute with a superb goal from Sphiwe Mahlangu – the midfielder shifted the ball onto his right foot on the edge of the box and fired a low curler into the bottom corner, beating the dive of Swallows goalkeeper Jody February.

The Rockets were certainly the more fluent team in terms of passing and carved out another scoring opportunity just past the midway point of the first half, though this time Tshegofatso Nyama’s low shot was easily saved by February.

On 39 minutes Mxolisi Machupu should have doubled the hosts’ lead, firing over from close range after a great cut-back from the right by-line by Sinethemba Mngomezulu.

The half ended with Galaxy 1-0 up and very much worthy of their lead – perhaps even frustrated that they did not fully capitalise on their dominance to open up a bigger advantage.

Swallows were the first to make tactical changes in the second stanza, bringing on Zaphaniah Mbokoma and Kamohelo Mahlatsi eight minutes after the restart, and they were the livelier team in attack up to the hour mark.

On 63 minutes Machupu nearly made it 2-0 with an imaginative effort, chesting up a cross from the left before attempting a looping overhead kick – his shot was on target but lacked the pace to beat February, who was able to tip it over the crossbar.

Ten minutes later the Birds blew a great chance to equalise, with substitute Khetukuthula Ndlovu weaving his way past several Galaxy defenders before being denied by a fine low save from Vasilije Kolak.

The Rockets’ goalkeeper had another key contribution a short while later, coming off his line to thwart another brilliant solo run, this time from Keletso Makgalwa, as Swallows began to play with more risk and aggression.

However, Galaxy were able to see out the remainder of the game with relatively few scary moments, allowing them to claim a second win from their last three matches and move out of the red zone.

The teams will return to DStv Premiership action next weekend, with Galaxy hosting Cape Town City on Saturday 27 November, and Swallows welcoming Kaizer Chiefs to Dobsonville Stadium the following day.

TS Galaxy (1) 1 (S. Mahlangu 7’)

Swallows FC 0


TS Galaxy: Kolak, Munyai, Makitan, Sanoka, Seedat, Aubaas, Nyama (Mogaila 63’), Ndluli, S. Mahlangu (Filipetto 88’), Mngomezulu (Brooks 67’), Machupu (Mbunjana 88’)

Swallows:February, Khupe, Sait, Mohamme, Sasman (Basadien 82’), Matlou (Mbokoma 53’), Nyatama, Mokoena (Mahlatsi 53’), Solomons (K. Ndlovu 67’), Saleng (Makgalwa 67’), Gamildien