Royal AM secured the bragging rights in the KwaZulu-Natal derby after defeating AmaZulu 2-0 at the Chatsworth Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Result: Royal AM 2-0 AmaZulu
Date: 08 January 2023
Venue: Chatsworth Stadium
Royal AM made four changes to the side that drew with TS Galaxy, as Elias Pelembe, Shadrack Kobedi, Khetukuthula Ndlovu and Motebang Sera were all recalled.
Usuthu meanwhile, handed new signing Junior Dion his debut in the starting line-up to partner the returning Gabadinho Mhango up front and former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Hendrick Ekstein also got a rare start.
Thwihli Thwahla had a bright start as Sera made their most of their early chances on 12 minutes with a glancing header in the box after a free-kick delivery by Pelembe.
The home side continued to threaten from set-plays, as Ricardo Nascimento almost doubled their lead on 23 minutes with a dipping free-kick that required a full-stretch save from goalkeeper Veli Mothwa.
Royal AM were in control of the latter phase of the first stanza and it was up to AmaZulu to improve considerably going forward, as they went to the half-time break trailing by an odd goal.
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Folz reacted with a double attacking change at half-time as Lehlohonolo Majoro replaced Mhango and Thabo Qalinge took the place of Rally Bwalya in a tactical switch.
The visitors looked much better in their efforts to get back into the game early in the second stanza, as they pinned Royal AM in their own half.
However, Thwihli Thwahla came the closest to doubling their lead on 67 minutes from a counter-attack after Sera curled a shot that came off the top of the crossbar and bounced away from goal.
There was controversy as a goal was awarded to Royal AM for the strike by Sera that bounced in front of the goal-line but after consulting the linesman, the referee eventually disallowed the goal.
As Usuthu committed numbers forward without testing goalkeeper Hugo Nyame, Thwihli Thwahla brought fresh legs in attack with eight minutes to go, as Menzi Masuku and Mxolisi Macupho entered the fray.
The two substitutes had an immediate impact, as Macuphu settled the game for Royal AM with a tap-in after a cross by Masuku from a transition attack.
Usuthu suddenly came to life in stoppages, as Majoro forced a save out Nyame with a volley in the six-yard box but the visitors could not get more momentum, as Royal AM secured their first win in four matches.
Here's how they lined up:
Royal AM: 16. Nyame, 22. Rikhotso, 14. Matlaba, 3. Nascimento, 6. Kobedi, 23. Ndlovu, 7. Pelembe, 40. Cele, 12. Mahlasela, 11. Potsane, 33. Sera.
Subs: 32. Ngcobo, 5. Dlamini, 13. Manganyi, 17. Mogaila, 38. Mashiane, 34. Thikazi, 30. Gamildien, 50. Masuku, 9. Macuphu
AmaZulu: 44. Mothwa, 5. Sikhakhane, 14. Hanamub, 23. Mphahlele, 17. Gumede, 8. Makhaula, 4. Malepe, 50. Bwalya, 11. Mhango, 27. Ekstein, 33. Dion.
Subs: 1. Mzimela, 22. Khumalo, 42. Mabiliso, 36. Kunene, 47. Qalinge, 3. Ndlovu, 15. Zuma, 7. Ntuli, 20. Majoro
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