|Black Leopards © Gallo Images
A brace by birthday boy and Black Leopards captain Mongezi Bobe relegated Jomo Cosmos from the Absa Premiership even though late goals by Matthew Rusike and Tshidiso Tukane saw the Ezenkosi play to a 2-2 draw at the Sinaba Stadium on Wednesday night.
Cosmos had an early chance at goal when skilful midfielder Katlego Loke lurched onto a long pass and had Leopards keeper Aziwindini Maphaha beaten when he unleashed a thunderous right footed shot that hit the top of the cross bar in the ninth minute.
Six minutes later Cosmos had another chance to score. After good build up from Ezenkosi the ball fell to Rusike on the left side of the box, but the striker squandered the chance as he skied his effort with only the Leopards keeper to beat.
In the 37th minute Leopards failed to take a chance as Luyolo Mapolisa could not keep his attempt from 12-yards out down.
The match went into the halftime break deadlocked at 0-0.
Three minutes after the interval Haskins got a chance after he brilliantly controlled the ball inside the box with his first touch, but could only drag his left footed shot wide with his weaker foot.
There was drama in the 59th minute when Humphrey Khoza, who was the last man in defence, used his hands to prevent Tsietsi Mkhwanazi’s goal bound shot.
The Cosmos players appealed for a penalty and a red card to be shown, but in disbelief the referee turned a blind eye to the situation.
But Cosmos were made to rue that mistake by the officials as Leopards opened the scoring in the 72nd minute.
It was great work from Raymond Monama on the left flank as he beat a Cosmos defender before sending the ball into the box which was safely tucked into the back of the net by Bobe, 1-0.
Four minutes later it was 2-0 to Lidoda Duvha.
Bobe controlled the ball on the edge of the box as he went from the left side to the centre and unleashed a curling left footed shot that beat Cosmos keeper Avril Phali.
Substitute Tukane who had only been on the park for two minutes got Cosmos back into the match. A goal mouth scrambled ensued in the box and Tukane guided the ball into the net in the 84th minute, 2-1.
But there was to be some late drama as Rusike appeared to have handed Ezenkosi a lifeline in the relegation battle.
Siyabonga Nhlapo showed some vision as he found Rusike who beat the off-side trap and the Leopards keeper to make it 2-2 in the 88th minute.
The match ended to 2-2 and it means that Cosmos will now play in the National First Division whilst Leopards are only two points ahead of Santos in the fight to avoid the relegation/promotion play-off spot.
Jomo Cosmos (0) 2 (Tukane 84’, Rusike 88’)
Black Leopards (0) 2 (Bobe 72’ + 76’)
Jomo Cosmos: A Phali; G Shitolo, S Matete, R Manzini, T Mkwanazi; B Loke (T Tukane 82’), M Haskins (R Tomanyane 69’), E Samb, S Nhlapo; M Rusike, A Ngwerume (T Dondo 65’)
Black Leopards: A Maphaha; N Xakane, T Tshabalala (V Mabusela 87’), H Khoza, E Dzaga; I Duiker; S Mabunda, L Mapolisa (Maake 71’), M Bobe; K Nkhatha, R Ramagalela (R Monama 51’)