Leopards slip closer to relegation playoff spot

Leopards slip closer to relegation playoff spot
Lehlogonolo Masalesa of Black Leopards and Salulani Phiri of Polokwane City during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 game between Polokwane City and Black Leopards at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane the on 07 April 2019 © Kabelo Leputu/BackpagePix

by Staff Reporter

Sunday Apr 07, 2019. 17:10

Black Leopards have slipped closer to the relegation playoff spot in the Absa Premiership after they were beaten 3-1 by Limpopo rivals Polokwane City at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday.

Lidoda Duvha find themselves just one point above the playoff berth (despite being in 12th place) as the relegation battle goes into overdrive in the final stages of the season, while Rise and Shine have no such troubles as they fly high in fifth place.

The first clear chance of the game went the way of Leopards in the fifth minute, with Joseph Mhlongo racing free down the right of the penalty area, but his low shot was turned away for a corner kick by goalkeeper George Chigova.

Lidoda Duvha claimed the lead on 26 minutes through a simple move, working the ball wide to left winger Lifa Hlongwane, who provided a perfect cross for an unmarked Mwape Musonda to nod home league goal number 13 of the season.

Polokwane should have drawn level on 39 minutes when a cross from the left found Mohammed Anas unmarked just inside the penalty area, but the Ghanaian striker dragged his effort wide of the target.

Yet Rise and Shine ensured the half-time score was 1-1 when Puleng Tlolane netted his first goal in more than year: the striker curled a brilliant right-footed shot into the top corner in the first minute of injury time before the interval.

And just six minutes into the second half City claimed the lead for the first time. A quick free kick in the middle of the park caught the Leopards defence napping and Mpho Mvelase poked home a low shot to make it 2-1 to the hosts.

It was so nearly 3-1 just a couple of minutes later, with Anas first denied by a brilliant save from King Ndlovu, before the rebound was headed onto the woodwork by Tlolane.

Leopards reclaimed a foothold in the game and began to pressure for an equaliser. Coach Dylan Kerr then freshened up his attack midway through the second half by introducing Tshwarelo Bereng and Ivan Mahangwahaya from the bench.

The visitors from Thohoyandou almost levelled the game on 74 minutes through winger Hlongwane, who rattled the crossbar with a fine strike direct from a free kick.

With Leopards trying to commit more men forward, Polokwane took advantage of space behind the defence on the counter attack. Anas and Jabu Maluleke combined beautifully on 80 minutes to see the former score into an empty net and make it 3-1 to City.

Anas neatly scored the home side’s fourth in the 86th minute, with his downward header from a corner kick bouncing up to strike the crossbar.

Polokwane City (1) 3 (Tlolane 45+1’, Mvelase 51’, Anas 80’)
Black Leopards (1) 1 (Musonda 26’)

Polokwane: Chigova, Mvelase, Mbonani, Motloung (Nkili 74’), Hlongwane, Manaka, Phiri, J. Maluleke, Booi (Seabi 80’), Tlolane (Musona 69’), Anas

Leopards: K. Ndlovu, Munyai, Munganga, Ndou, Zulu, Nange (Bereng 51’), Masalesa, Mhlongo (Mahangwahaya 68’), Kapinga (Bereng 68’), Hlongwane, Musonda

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