Daily News

Supersport cementing second spot

- MIHLALI BALEKA mihlali.baleka@inl.co.za Supersport United Golden Arrows

Lepasa 30, 53

Mutizwa 76-pen (1) 2

SUPERSPORT are slowly consolidat­ing their status as this season’s Premiershi­p runners-up.

Matsantsan­tsa A Pitori hung on for a win as they beat Arrows at home last night to move five points clear of the third-placed Orlando Pirates.

Supersport’s win was inspired by Zakhele Lepasa, who scored a brace for his first contributi­on at the club. Arrows remained 12th on the standings and six points clear of safety.

The victory meant that their

CAF Champions League aspiration­s remained on track, especially ahead of their visit to Pirates, who are also chasing that No 2 spot in their next clash.

After Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs’ respective wins over the weekend, Supersport had to win at all costs this evening if they were to tighten their grip on that second-place finish.

But, of course, that was easier said than done, as they had to do that without Bradley Grobler, who was suspended despite being honoured for his century of goals in the PSL before the start of the game.

In the absence of Grobler, though, the scoring responsibi­lities were passed on to both Lepasa and Thamsanqa Gabuza up front.

Lepasa endured the most pressure, given that he was yet to get off the mark since joining the club on loan from Pirates during the January transfer window. But, boy, he duly took the responsibi­lity head on, scoring his brace in less than an hour as Supersport put day and night between them and the visitors.

Lepasa’s first goal in the first half ensured that his team went into the break with the lead after slotting home from close range in what was the best move of the first half. Before and after that, the two teams produced a nonflowing game. Possession was easily lost in the midfield by either side to the frustratio­n of the strikers.

Knox Mutizwa must have been the most frustrated of the lot given that he came into this game on a high after he scored a brace in Arrows’ 3-2 win over Chiefs a fortnight ago. The same couldn’t be said for Lepasa, who scored his second goal early in the second half in some style, pressing his markers before creating acres of space for himself to fire into the top corner.

Despite almost guaranteed to claim all three points, Supersport didn’t leave anything to chance. Instead, they continued to keep things tidy and neat in the middle and up front.

And they needed to do that to protect their defence as Thulani Hlatshwayo, Thatayone Dithlokhwe and Keagan Johannes all sat on three year cards, while a fourth would see them miss the trip to Pirates.

Johannes came close to finding his team’s third with his striker’s instinct in the box, only to force out a brilliant save from Siyabonga Mbatha. And soon thereafter, Supersport would come close to conceding after Mutizwa unleashed a thunderbol­t that forced Ricardo Goss into a high-flying save.

Arrows, who had continued to exert the pressure, though, were given a late lifeline after winning a penalty that Mutizwa calmly converted following a foul from Thubelihle Magubane in the box.

There was a nervy end to this match for Supersport as Arrows threw the kitchen sink in search of an equaliser, but their efforts were futile despite an effort from Bongumusa Nkosi and Goss’s blunder.

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