LINKS GOAL A LATE GIFT

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN IN CAPE TOWN

GIFT Links was un­der­stand­ably de­lighted to score the 89th minute win­ner for Cape Town City to give his team a 1-0 win over Su­per­sport United at the Lu­cas Moripe Sta­dium on Sat­ur­day night.

“First of all I would like to thank the man up­stairs be­cause it is by his grace that I am do­ing the work that I am do­ing,” he said.

“I’m very, very happy be­cause I’ve got the goal that I’ve been wait­ing for for a very long time.

“My team­mates told me to re­lax and that to­day I would win the game for us, and that’s what hap­pened, so I’m very happy.

“I should have scored ear­lier with my first chance that I missed that left me dis­ap­pointed, so when I got the last chance from a cross from my cap­tain that took a de­flec­tion I wanted to fin­ish it, and I did.”

The Cit­i­zens move up three places to sixth in the stand­ings, while Mat­sat­santsa drop out of the top three to sev­enth (23 points).

With this re­sult City com­pleted a sea­son dou­ble over their Pre­to­ria ri­vals hav­ing won 2-0 on the open­ing day of the sea­son in Au­gust, but they were for­tu­nate this time af­ter be­ing out­played for most of the en­counter that saw the 8.15pm start of the game de­layed by 20 min­utes due to light­ning, thun­der and rain.

When the sides took to the field it was the hosts who dom­i­nated pro­ceed­ings, and bet­ter fin­ish­ing from United would have seen them go­ing into the break a cou­ple of goals to the good.

That said, City’s sec­ond-choice goal­keeper Sage Stephens was on guard through­out and pulled off a cou­ple of stun­ning saves to keep his side in it; not to men­tion be­ing at the right place at the right time to save other on-tar­get shots in the half.

City failed to string to­gether any mean­ing­ful pas­sages of play and it left coach Benni Mc­carthy scratch­ing his head try­ing to fig­ure out how to break down a well-or­gan­ised op­po­nent and get some mo­men­tum go­ing.

But the Cape raiders made a game of it in the sec­ond half.

“We needed to run it a bit more; ev­ery­thing was re­ally static and we were slow to ev­ery­thing, but the minute we started mov­ing around and cre­at­ing spa­ces for us to re­ceive the ball in that’s when were we were able to find lots of pock­ets for our front men Ker­mit (Eras­mus), Siphelele Mthembu and Gift, and that’s when we were hav­ing joy,” said Mc­carthy.

“Also the three changes that we made saw the guys com­ing on do­ing what was ex­pected of them.”

New sign­ing Eras­mus had a quiet out­ing and only got one shot in that sailed way over the cross­bar.

He and fel­low striker Mthembu failed to make the kind of im­pres­sion Mc­carthy would have wanted, and it was no sur­prise when the coach subbed his lead­ing goal scorer Mthembu for Ayanda Patosi in the fourth quar­ter.

Links was the main threat for the United de­fence and his win­ning goal was a top-class ef­fort that won him praise from his coach.

“Gift’s goal was well-taken.

“It’s not easy to take it from the air and hit a first-time vol­ley, so well done to him for his long­waited goal,” said Mc­carthy.

Links (20) made a num­ber of dart­ing runs in the fi­nal third though he missed a cou­ple of ear­lier chances, one a one-on-on sit­u­a­tion with United keeper Ron­wan Williams.

But when it mat­tered, and with his side un­der se­vere pres­sure in the clos­ing stages, he stepped for­ward and em­phat­i­cally did the job for his team­mates who will owe him more than just a pat on the back, as they will share half of the R1.5-mil­lion the club won for be­ing the team to pick up the most points (16 from a pos­si­ble 21) in the last seven rounds of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Pic­tuire: Sa­muel Shivambu Backpagepix

BROKE HIS DUCK: Gift Links of Cape Town City was re­lieved to fi­nally put a ball into the back of the net for his team on Sat­ur­day evening.

Pic­ture: Syd­ney Mahlangu Backpagepix

PLUG THE HOLES: Mi­lutin Sre­do­je­vic coach of Or­lando Pi­rates will have to tweak the team’s de­fence, as they are still let­ting in far too many goals.

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