Ajax show character with a late three-goal fightback
AJAX CAPE TOWN are out of the Premiership drop zone following their 3-1 victory over Platinum Stars(0-1 halftime) at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday night.
The Urban Warriors jumped from last place to 13th on the table after bagging their fourth win of the season, doing so as if their lives depended on the outcome.
They fully deserved the victory and the three points, thanks to a dominant secondhalf performance that produced three goals in the final 17 minutes.
For their coach Muhsin Ertugral, a first win from three starts brought a smile to his face after a rough ride for the club over the past week.
“The boys played outstandingly well in the second half,” he said.
“They got the passing pattern we’ve been working hard on right, and how well they played.
“We changed our shape for the second half replacing a forward with a midfielder, so a 3-5-2 formation, one that Stars could not handle.
“Now for the derby with Cape Town City, and I’m confident and sure Cape Town Stadium will be packed out.
“The lads will have two days off as a reward for their efforts”.
City won the first derby earlier this season 2-0.
On Friday, Stars dominated the opening half and, after squandering a few chances, got the breakthrough in the 40th minute when striker Zama Rambuwane was given time and space to guide a header past goalkeeper Brandon Petersen.
Ajax were hardly threatening and again failed to make any headway.
The hosts had to wait until the 25th minute for their first chance which went to roving forward Fagrie Lakay (substituted at half-time by Ndiviwe Mdabuka), but his header, while on target from just out- side the small box, lacked any pace to trouble keeper Dino Visser.
Tendai Ndoro made his debut as the lone striker and, after a quiet start, he had two chances in double quick time that had the home faithful on their feet and roaring him on.
But the 32-year-old Zimbabwe international could not make it count, his first effort lacking bite and going straight into the keeper’s gloves and then, with time on his side, a scuffed grass-cutter that went wide of the target.
Dikwena kept their lead going into the break.
Ertugral’s charges started the second half as if they meant business.
They were now gaining ground deep into enemy territory in numbers and looked menacing.
Gerald Takwara marshalled the midfield with aplomb and had support from Tercious Malepe and sub Mdabuka, while Tashreeq Morris and Samuel Julies operated down the flanks and caused problems in the Stars’ defence with their running lines.
It was no surprise then when Ajax, whose supporters had found their voices, drew level in the 73rd minute through Malepe who was in the right place to mop up from close range, this after an attempted defensive clearance fell his way.
Ajax were in total command and went up 2-1 when Morris’ classy strike ended up in the Stars’ net.
A fully deserved lead with eight minutes to go.
Stars were now staring down the barrel and needing to rediscover the form of the first 45 minutes to have any chance of forcing a draw.
But Ajax, who were desperate for the win that would move them out of the danger, were not to be denied their fourth win of the campaign when Ndoro rifled a shot into the net a minute into the four minutes of stoppage time.
SUPPORT ROLE: Midfielder Tercious Malepe led the Ajax fighback on Friday.