|Thato Ferland © Backpagepix
This will go down as an afternoon when Blackburn Rovers threw away the title chase in the NFD as they went down 2-0 to Chippa United at Philippi.
For Chippa though, the win takes them closer to a top three finish and thereby a position in the Promotion Play-offs.
The result leaves Chippa in the third and final play-off place, on 49 points, they trail Rovers by a single point with one round of games to go.
However, with Thanda (47 points) winning, Chippa’s participation in the play-offs is not yet finalised. FC AK, who lost to Dynamos, are left on 45 points, and with an inferior goal difference to Chippa, whom they play next week, are all but out of the running.
Locals were out in their numbers to support the NFD debutants in their quest to make the promotion play-offs at the first time of asking. The stadium was jam packed to capacity with fans in a jovial mood, making for a fantastic atmosphere.
The home side made a somewhat tentative start, with Rovers dominating early stages in terms of possession and territory.
The first chance came after eight minutes when Zamuxolo Ngalo received a free kick at the back post, but he mistimed his header.
Chippa’s first effort on goal came after 15 minutes but Petrus Ngebo’s half volley was someway off the mark. The same player got a great chance three minutes later, but having being picked out by Khanyisa Matomane, Ngebo dragged his shot wide.
Visiting winger Curtis dos Santos was a constant threat down the right hand flank and he fired in a decent effort after 30 minutes, but his shot was hit too close to keeper Abduraghmaan White.
Just before the break Joshua Sauls had an excellent chance to put the Cape side in the drivers seat, but with only Bafana Nhlapo to beat, the Blackburn keeper came out tops as he rushed off his line to make a brave block.
Chippa had the first chance after the break, with Sifiso Hlanti unlucky to see his shot rebounding off the upright.
The hosts were looking far more purposeful and this translated into the opening goal, 10 minutes into the second half, as Sauls reacted fastest at the back post after a corner had been re-directed to that vicinity.
In the 67th minute the Chilli Boys gave themselves the cushion of a second goal when substitute Mfundo Shumana slotted home from 15-yards out, the on-loan Ajax Cape Town midfielder showing good composure to pick out the bottom corner of the net after the ball had rebounded to him.
Spurred on by substitute Linda Shiba, the Eastern Cape side came back into the game strongly as they looked to get back into the game.
With five minutes to go the visiting team wasted another great chance when Petholo Lebepe made a hash of his effort, five yards out at the back post. Clarence Foroma also blasted over the bar from 10-yards in injury time - the day and match appeared to be destined to be Chippa’s as they held on for the crucial three points.