Sekhukhune United climbed to fourth spot on the DStv Premiership table with a 1-0 win over Swallows FC on Friday evening.
Result: Sekhukhune United 1-0 Swallows FC
Date: 20 January 2023
Venue: Peter Mokaba Stadium
Sekhukhune switched three places around from their narrow win over Stellenbosch as Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya, Elias Mokwana and Tlotlo Leepile returned to the line-up.
The Birds meanwhile, were without Gregory Damons, as Mthokozisi Shwabule earned only his second start of the season, in the only change after a goalless draw against TS Galaxy.
Ernst Middendorp's charges had a bright start but they nearly went behind on 14 minutes after Leepile had a crack at goal from a tight angle with strike that was plucked out of the top corner by goalkeeper Thakasani Mbanjwa.
The game became a scrappy affair but Sekhukhune packed a punch in the last third, compared to Swallows, who were not decisive in the last third, as Mokwana forced another save from Mbanjwa with a looping shot in the box.
Brandon Truter's men had the momentum towards the interval, Chibuike Ohizu squandering a good chance just before the halftime break after failing to hit the target from close range,
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Neither side took the game by the scruff of the neck coming from the interval and it took a moment of brilliance from Ntiya-Ntiya just after the hour-mark to break the deadlock for Babina Noko with a screamer from out of the box that sailed into the top corner.
Swallows got out of their slumber and started threatening with 20 minutes to go as Junaid Sait forced a great save out of Sangare with a powerful strike.
Middendorp reacted by making an attacking with 15 minutes left in the second half, as Lindokuhle Mtshali replaced Shwabule.
Mwape Musonda was a threat for the Birds in the dying minutes after he replaced Kagiso Malinga due to injury, but Waseem Isaacs came the closest to snatching the equaliser in stoppage time with a header that came off the post.
Babina Noko held on in the end and leapfrogged Kaizer Chiefs in fifth spot on the table while Swallows find themselves in 14th position.
Here's how they lined up:
Sekhukhune United: 30. Sangare, 4. Cardoso, 2. Mobbie, 36. Ntiya-Ntiya, 39. Gyimah, 15. Kabwe, 18. Seabi, 17. Mokwana, 21. Letsoalo, 8. Leepile, 34. Ohizu.
Subs: 1. Nsabata, 44. Mahashe, 5. Madonsela, 6. Mashikinya, 35. Mahlangu, 3. Mokhabi, 3. Makhubu, 20. Masiya, 27. Mkhabela.
Swallows FC: 31. Mbanjwa, 32. Lukhubeni, 34. Sait, 4. Allan, 28. Sasman, 43. Zulu, 6. Mthethwa, 23. Shwabule, 26. Malinga, 47. Wambi, 3. Isaacs.
Subs: 50. Tshabalala, 41. Khumalo, 42. Makaringe, 2. Sibiya, 49. Ngwenya, 20. Musonda, 9. Mtshali, 44. Mngonyama, 39. Matsheke
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