Wits desperate to start 2018 on a high

Wits desperate to start 2018 on a high
Nazeer Allie of Bidvest Wits challenged by Bokang Tlhone of Free State Stars during the Telkom Knockout Last 16 match between Free State Stars and Bidvest Wits at the Goble Park Stadium in Free State on the 22 October 2016©Samuel Shivambu/Backpagepix

by Graeme Jackson

Friday Jan 05, 2018. 05:37

Bidvest Wits will be desperate to begin the New Year with a victory over Free State Stars in an Absa Premiership clash at Bidvest Stadium on 5 January 2018, kick-off at 20h00.

Wits ended 2017 on a disappointing note, as they succumbed 1-0 at home to Platinum Stars on December 16. The result not only saw the defending champions rack up a seventh loss from 14 matches, but also ensured they spent the festive-season break marooned at the bottom of the log.

The Clever Boys have struggled to ‘click’ at home this season. Their only win as hosts arrived back in September when they defeated Orlando Pirates 1-0, while they have lost five of their seven games at the Bidvest Stadium.

Stars ended 2017 with a 2-1 home win over Orlando Pirates - their third victory in the space of four league matches to make a strong surge up the standings. All three of those victories came at home, with the Free State side turning their Bethlehem base into a fortress at the end of the year.

Ea Lla Koto, though, have not impressed away from home, collecting just seven points from as many matches on the road. They last won away from home when they defeated Maritzburg United 1-0 in late September.

In head-to-head stats, Wits and Stars have met in 54 league matches since 1986. The Clever Boys have claimed 18 wins compared to 15 for the Clever Boys, while 21 matches have been drawn. The Johannesburg side has claimed 13 wins from 26 home league matches in the rivalry, suffering three defeats in the process.

When the teams met earlier this season they played to a 2-2 draw in a home match for Stars on August 23. Ea Lla Koto needed a late penalty from Siphelele Mthembu to salvage a share of the spoils, having twice trailed in the match. The teams’ last three league meetings have produced 12 goals.

Wits’ line-up from their 1-0 loss to P Stars on December 16: Keet, Hlatshwayo, Monare, Classen (Phiri Jr 46’), Ntshangase, Mkhwanazi, Rodgers, Frosler, Mhango (Gamal 46’), Klate (Keene 76’), Hlanti.

Stars’ line-up from their 2-1 win over Pirates on December 16: Sangare, Mobbie, Teyise, Keita, Makhaula, Potsane (Maphakisa 72’), Masehe, Vilakazi, Jantjie, Dlamini (Venter 63’), Mthembu (Anas 83’).

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