High­lands knock at Premier­ship door

CityPress - - Sport - MAXWELL RAMARU at Makhu­long Sta­dium sports@city­press.co.za

High­lands Park are a mere three points away from re­al­is­ing their dream of play­ing in the Absa Premier­ship next sea­son.

This they can re­alise as early as Wed­nes­day, when they host Mbombela United, whom they beat a fort­night ago.

High­lands’ 1-0 vic­tory over Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day vir­tu­ally con­demned AmaTuks to the Na­tional First Di­vi­sion next sea­son.

AmaTuks will now join Jomo Cos­mos, who were au­to­mat­i­cally rel­e­gated to the lower di­vi­sion at the end of Absa Premier­ship sea­son.

High­lands, who are on six points af­ter win­ning their open­ing two fix­tures, are three points ahead of Mbombela, while Tuks have yet to reg­is­ter a point or a goal in the play-offs.

Shaun Bartlett’s men came to the game aim­ing to get their cam­paign back on track af­ter los­ing their open­ing game to Mbombela.

But it was not to be af­ter winger Jose Gar­cia scored the only goal of the match via a curl­ing free kick in the 53rd minute to break their hearts.

Bartlett made four changes to the side that dis­ap­pointed him and also left striker Len­nox Bacela and winger Thabo Mnya­mane out of the team.

He opted for Atusaye Nyondo, Ge­taneh Kebede, Part­son Jaure and Ju­nior Sibande in the start­ing line-up.

Bartlett was hop­ing to draw in­spi­ra­tion from their 2-1 win over Golden Ar­rows in their last Premier­ship match of the sea­son, which gave them another chance to fight for their sta­tus via play-offs, but it was not meant to be as their re­main­ing two matches are mean­ing­less.

On the other hand, High­lands came into the match with their heads held high, hav­ing de­mol­ished Mbombela 3-0 in their first match.

High­lands coach Al­lan Freese made only one change to the side that started against Mbombela with de­fender Chris­tian Je­maine re­plac­ing Sandile Kh­wela.

The home side had the up­per hand from the start, but it was AmaTuks who came close to break­ing the stale­mate in the 17th minute when Nyondo’s curl­ing shot from the edge of the penalty box forced keeper Ta­puwa Kap­ini to con­cede a cor­ner.

How­ever, the Lions of the North piled more pres­sure on the Tsh­wane out­fit af­ter the break with a se­ries of at­tacks forc­ing them to de­fend deep in their own half.

Their ef­forts fi­nally paid off when Gar­cia broke the dead­lock with a curl­ing free kick, giv­ing keeper Tristyn Coet­see no chance.

PHOTO: LEFTY SHIVAMBU / GALLO IMAGES

BINGO! Jose Gar­cia cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing for High­lands Park at Makhu­long Sta­dium yes­ter­day

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