Absa Premiership weekend wrap - Sundowns’ lead slashed, Wits continue to struggle

Absa Premiership weekend wrap - Sundowns’ lead slashed, Wits continue to struggle
Luvuyo Memela of Orlando Pirates celebrates Goal during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Baroka FC on 06 January 2018 at Orlando Stadium Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Monday Jan 08, 2018. 09:30

The Absa Premiership returned with a bang on its first weekend of matches in 2018, with leaders Mamelodi Sundowns seeing their lead at the top slashed to just a single point, while defending champions Bidvest Wits continue to prop up the table.

The round got underway on Friday night with two matches which ensured the bottom two of Ajax Cape Town and Bidvest Wits remain stuck in the relegation zone.

Ajax allowed an early lead to slip away as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Maritzburg United, while Wits succumbed 1-0 at home to Free State Stars. The title holders have now gone seven league matches without a win and scored just one goal in that sequence.

Saturday’s afternoon match was a thriller, as Polokwane City came from a goal down to defeat Mamelodi Sundowns 3-2 at Peter Mokaba Stadium. Rodney Ramagalela’s winner 10 minutes from time handed the Brazilians their first away defeat of the season and secured a first home triumph for Rise and Shine.

This was followed by a match of equal quality between SuperSport United and Kaizer Chiefs, which may have ended in a goalless draw at Mbombela Stadium but still managed to be engrossing and entertaining.

The night games saw Cape Town City move to within a point of Sundowns at the summit, as Roland Putsche’s late strike saw them win 1-0 at Platinum Stars, while in Soweto Luvoyo Memela provided a brace of goals and an assist to see Orlando Pirates begin the year on a high with a 3-1 win over Baroka FC.

The round wrapped up on Sunday afternoon with impressive victories for Chippa United (2-0 away to AmaZulu) and Bloemfontein Celtic (2-1 at home to Golden Arrows), who have boosted their top eight hopes with a haul of points early in the New Year.

The Absa Premiership will continue with midweek matches this Tuesday (Ajax v Sundowns) and Wednesday (Wits v SuperSport), before a full round of matches across next weekend, January 12-14.

Absa Premiership weekend results

Friday 5 January

Bidvest Wits 0-1 Free State Stars

Ajax Cape Town 1-2 Maritzburg United

Saturday 6 January

Polokwane City 3-2 Mamelodi Sundowns

SuperSport United 0-0 Kaizer Chiefs

Orlando Pirates 3-1 Baroka FC

Platinum Stars 0-1 Cape Town City

Sunday 7 January

Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 Golden Arrows

AmaZulu 0-2 Chippa United

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