Ajax show char­ac­ter with a late three-goal fight­back

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN

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.

PHANDO JIKELO

SUP­PORT ROLE: Mid­fielder Ter­cious Malepe led the Ajax figh­back on Fri­day.

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